One of my favorite places on the planet Earth is Paris and my favorite time in Paris is the early morning.
I love getting up early and watching the city come to life. The streets of Paris are washed and scrubbed by 6 am and the beauty of the cities architecture is a stark canvas without the clutter and distraction of humanity.
I was on the streets outside our vacation rental before six and the only people moving were the city employees driving the small whirling street cleaners. In the morning the scent of Paris is fresh and carries the slightest hint of flowers. I walked to a little cafe where a sleepy barista was just placing the chairs and tables in front of the cafe in preparation for the morning coffee rush.
The street was empty, an empty Paris, Paris just for me. No bustling merchants, no late night parties, no human sound, just the gentle sounds of Paris sleeping.
Across from me, doors begin to open and metal security grids begin to screech as they complain about being opened. The butcher down the street has begun raising the gate to his shop and has begun the day. Slowly the trucks which are the life blood of Paris begin to appear and the merchants that line the street in a parade of two wheel dollies move out of their shops to collect the treasures they will soon offer to the masses.
My new friend, the barista, appears and lays a steaming hot cup of coffee before me as I watch, the four merchants who work in the fruit shop across from me begin their daily ritual of setting out their fruit. I can smell the sweet scent of berries mingled with the scent of peach as the merchants pour the crates of fruit into their bins. In the cool morning breeze they joke as they wheel cases of fresh fruit out and lovingly arrange it like an edible art display.
Like a small trickle of water before the deluge the locals begin to appear. Office workers with their obligatory leather cases hanging from their shoulders.
A lady sporting a long bagget like she is bearing a flag in a parade walks by marching toward the day. I think to myself she is the grand master of the parade of souls that will fill the streets in only a few hours.
A window washer asking the merchants for work cleaning their windows. Paris is coming awake.
My barista shows up with a second cup of coffee and takes my empty without a word. Maybe he sense how I am lost in the moment. How I am enjoying a new birth of one of my favorite cities.
I take one last photo of the art some talented soul has put on a security gate. The art will disappear when the merchant comes and the gate is raised, but for now I have this little hidden part of Paris that only appears when no one is there to see it. The eyes in the painting look at me they are wise they are the eyes of one who knows the best time to see Paris.
I feel the warmth of my cup. I take the last bitter sweet sip of my coffee. I close my eyes and hear the faint murmur that will soon be the sound of Paris by day. It is time to go, I stand, take one more look at the filling street and I begin my short walk back to our room where Charlene and Alyssia are still deep asleep. Life is good.