Although I miss the space of home, I’m a city girl at heart, and La Défense is one of my escapes from Paris. Standing over the metro Esplanade La Défense I can see the Arch de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower when I look towards Paris. When I turn around, it’s a futuristic maze of shiny glass and metal towers surrounding huge pedestrian areas and courtyards framed by trees, shrubs and park benches, with Grande Arche de La Défense as its focal point.
Yesterday, it was incredibly calm and serene. I went to a class in the neighbouring area of Puteaux and the entire region was like a ghost town – it was the first time I’d been back since my two Société Générale students went on holidays. What I hadn’t realised was that the rest of white-collar Paris had gone with them.
After yesterday’s class I sat on a step near a fountain and let the breeze ruffle my hair and my skirt, feeling safe in my sense of anonymity – something that you can only really achieve in a city (yes, I’m aware that Paris is a city, but each arrondissement is like a little village – I already have a following in mine).
Jazz music washed over my stone steps and I watched kids wading in the fountain, ignoring the ‘no swimming’ signs – if I hadn’t had been wearing a skirt, I might have joined them. It was very tempting, at the fountains were stunning in the afternoon light – when each stream of water hit its peak, it broke into crystal-like fragments and crashed back down to the pool.
I usually like La Défense because it is filled with business people and I can pretend that I’m one of them in my power suits (we’ll ignore the fact that I burned one of these suits with the iron, and I have to balance my bag over the now-shiny material until I sit on it). But yesterday, being there when it was so peaceful, I started to think of what it would be like to live in one of the white apartment buildings in Puteaux, and to have a career in one of these towers.
As I watched the clouds turn pink and the shadows lengthen over the courtyards, my heart filled with love for this amazing city.