Secret Seine Staircase

I’d never dare to suggest that an enormous stone staircase in a tourist-focused area of Paris would be a “secret”, but that glowing doorway below street level looks like some secretive club or spy rendez-vous.

Secret Seine Staircase

Pont au Double Light Stream

Paris is a city where relics of many eras coexist together: Notre Dame from 1345 above the Pont au Double from 1883 and the futuristic light streaks of a twentieth-century riverboat. Perhaps that’s why the city makes such an excellent setting for cyberpunk fiction like William Gibson’s Neuromancer.

Pont au Double Light Stream

Notre Dame from Under le Petit Pont

The bridge that stands in this location has apparently been destroyed in various ways (usually swept away by the flooding Seine) thirteen times. I guess the fourteenth time is the charm, because the solid and secluded underside of the bridge now feels like the kind of place to hold a clandestine spy meeting.

Notre Dame from Under le Petit Pont

State Police on the Seine

The architectural grandeur of Paris makes even utilitarian buildings, like the State Police headquarters in the distance beyond the bridge, are marvels.

On the other hand, the shadows and mysterious doors along the Seine itself look more like the setting for a Cold War spy thriller…

State Police on the Seine

Boats in the Seine Near Notre Dame

The bridge in the distance is the Pont au Double, and it is one of several that connect the Rive Gauche to Île de la Cité. That central island fascinates me because it is the site of the medieval refounding of the city. The island used to be packed with residences alongside government and religious buildings. Today it is almost entirely dominated by the latter buildings (like Notre Dame on the right), yet I heard that census information still lists a few hundred people living on the island. Where are those last homes hiding?

Boats in the Seine Near Notre Dame