Me, My Heart, and I

by Melinda Gallo

Fête du travail

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

To celebrate the Fête du Travail (Labor Day) in France, I went to the Bastille. Not to protest like thousands of people, but to visit the annual Grand Marché d’Art Contemporain (Contemporary Art Fair). Last Saturday when my beau and I were walking through the Bastille metro station, we saw the poster advertising it. Unfortunately, my beau couldn’t join me on my trip to Paris, but I didn’t want to miss taking advantage of my day off from work to peruse the artwork at the marché.

When I got into the metro station at La Défense, the turnstiles appeared to have been turned off. The young woman in front of me slid her ticket in and it was returned to her. She looked back at me and then we both noticed the open doors. We walked through them and dashed down the stairs. In less than a half hour, I was on the opposite side of Paris. As I made my way through the hallways, I could hear music blasting from the place (square). I had no idea that there was a manifestation syndicale (trade-union demonstration) until I saw the large red flags waving around the place.

I crossed the street and entered into the marché. I arrived shortly after it opened and made my way around it twice to admire the artwork. I find it inspiring to see the artists show off their work and talk to passersby. I overheard a woman asking the artist what she was thinking when she painted a specific piece hanging in front of them. The artist responded, “Je me laisse guider par ma main (I let my hand guide me).” I couldn’t help but look back at the artist.

After a few hours, I decided to go to the Champs-Elysées to take a stroll. The rain that had been announced for the whole day never came and I wanted to enjoy the cloudy weather without getting wet.

I exited the George V metro station and found myself in the middle of crowds of people walking both ways on the Champs-Elysées. I walked up toward the Arc de Triomphe and sat at a bench to eat a sandwich that I bought at the Drugstore. I watched cars as they drove around the Arc de Triomphe. It was hard to catch a glimpse of the place without a car in front of the Arc de Triomphe.

Afterwards, I jumped back onto the metro to head home. Within a half hour, the rain came. I thought back on my day and was happy about especially since I let myself be guided, much like the artist I saw earlier. Visiting Paris has now become a true luxury for me. When I was staying in Paris, I rarely visited it much except on the weekends. I don’t know why I let the distance dissuade me from going into town since it takes me almost the same amount of time even though I’m just on the outskirts.

The holiday in the middle of the week was a treat, but mostly because of my solo trip to Paris.

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