Last Saturday, on what turned out to be the third-last day of summer, I ended up at La Défense, a place which means several things to me:
- hoards of rush hour commuters squashing like sardines on to the RER.
- a shopping centre where you never see daylight
- the Auchan supermarket where I once spent 40 minutes queueing for the express checkout
- a scary half-underground bus station which I have sometimes used on dark nights in the middle of a train strike
- the only place in Paris where the restaurants almost exclusively sell junk food.
From which you will understand that it was a strange location for me to be on a day of 30 degree heat and glorious weekend sunshine.
But I was, and, walking along the parvis from the metro station to the Grande Arche, I was able to experience the more attractive face of the area, where glossy buildings too tall to be allowed in Paris stretch up into the blue sky, the sunlight on the shiny surfaces reflecting to create a multi-faceted display that almost seems to exist in more than three dimensions, and fountains and even greenery create a space that is surprisingly liveable.
Needless to say, I got my camera out.