The sun blazes on the city streets, after I've spent hours in the Gibert Joseph bookshop on Saint Michel. I walk up to the garden next to the Musée Cluny, where I find a little water pump next to the public toilets. You have to turn around the knob at the top, making a circular motion, and it then emits a gush of water. I try to catch it [for I forgot today, to bring a bottle of water with me] and though most of it escapes my cupped hands, still, I manage to swallow a couple of mouthfuls.
I walk on along the Boulevard Saint Germain, until I come to the Institut du Monde Arabe which K had recommended. You'll hear plenty of oriental music there he said, but today, there is no-one outside playing music. I want to stay in the sunshine so I don't go in. I walk back a little way along the quai, past the bouquinistes and then go down to the river. I have never walked along here before, and that's the astonishing thing about Paris, I've been here so many times, but there are still so many parts of it I'm placing my feet on for the first time.
Barges are lightly tethered to the river bank. L'Heure Bleue, The Blue Hour, in the photo, is a more unusual one. The wakes of the tourist boats slide away against the walls, leaving the Seine-surface rippling and dancing, greeny grey. This bridge - which I think is the Pont de Sully – is wrapped in a beige covering and parts of it swell and ripple as a breeze passes over it. Other parts seem stretched tight, motionless. Grey tubes emerge from this covering and wrap themselves over the bridge like a hungry life-form, bridge-gnawers, bridge-fondlers.
A bateau mouche, wide and low, an elegant two-tiered cake, with a red and white striped awning over the lower level, slides underneath the bridge. Bateau-mouche? I think about this word, for the first time. A boat-fly? Is it so called because it skims the surface of the water? Or because of its speed? And why are the two lights above the bridge arch always red? Two feux rouges, one below the other, that never change. The traffic on the river continues, does not hesitate when faced with these red lights. The water is olive green, glistening like polished skin.
Further along the quayside, someone sitting on a flight of steps plays a muted melancholy saxophone. I walk up the steps and go through the Jardin des Plantes. Emerging on the other side, on the rue Geoffroy Saint Hilaire, there is another water pump.
Following this street, I come out onto the rue des Gobelins, walk up to Place d'Italie and on to la Butte aux Cailles, where I go into the piscine, to ask about their opening hours. It seems that you can swim anytime between 11 in the morning and 9 in the evening. But I didn't bring my swimsuit with me. You can buy one here I'm told. And a – casquette, I say, guessing the word and gesturing around my head. Bonnet, he smiles. I'm not swimming today, I've walked for hours and I'm heading home. But it's good to know it's possible.