A Paris Friday Night in May

Henri IV statue on Pont Neuf in Paris

Click on photo to watch the Friday night video – Henri IV statue on Pont Neuf in Paris lighting ceremony

On the streets of Paris, you can have a plan but always be ready for the unplanned.

On this Friday night, a statue lighting event led to crossing paths with feet moving faster than mine and the search for perfection with small, tedious retakes on a movie set.

I wanted to go out Friday to see a lighting ceremony and fire works on the Pont Neuf bridge in Paris. It was a lighting ceremony of Henri IV’s statue. The king was a major source of new building and architectural style in the 1500s (think Place des Vosges where he built a his and hers palace).

The illumination idea of Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, is to mark the anniversary of the death of Henri IV. The neon lights that envelope the statue will mark this spot on Pont Neuf as a “meeting place” between May 14 and July 14, 2010.

The fire works were on the ground instead of in the air (the organizer’s interpretation of fire works seemed different from the crowd’s expectations). Frédéric Mitterrand, the Minister of Culture, gave a speech lacking in anecdotes. When no one in the audience understood that the event was over, Mr. Mitterrand’s spokesman had to tell everyone that they could leave and thank you for coming — oops! The ending fell flat! It was a fun moment anyway.

We walked past the Conciergerie lit by passing tour boats and took a delay at the corner of the Quai de l’Horloge and the Pont au Change.

The Friday night rollerbladers came whizzing through with the police leading them across the bridge. Started to get rowdy after a long wait, the police stopped the traffic so they could cross the road and continue into Châtelet.

As we headed toward the Bastille, we knew a film crew had been shooting a movie for a couple of days on our street. For three days film trucks were in the cordoned off parking spaces. The main restaurant and bar of Cafe de l’Industrie was closed during this time to serve as a backdrop for the film. One exterior section of the restaurant was repainted as “Bistrot du VIe” (Bistrot in the 6th arrondissement).

This Friday night, they were shooting the night scenes. So we watched them shoot and reshoot this scene, and I did my own filming. The telefilm for France 2 is called “Le temps du silence” (The time of silence). The year is 1945; it recounts the story of a young man, returning to Paris after 18 months in Buchenwald. He is wondering how to explain this experience to others now that he has returned to Paris. Or should he just remain silent.

This was just another Friday night on the streets of Paris.

Henri IV
For more historical information about Henri IV and what he was planning and what he accomplished as well as his amorous escapades, visit the France Culture website.  Click on “Version accessible” at the bottom of the page. Use Google Translate to read the non-Flash version in English.

Rollerblading in Paris
Visit the Pari Roller website (use Google Translate) for information on the Friday night route and other information about times. It is a three-hour tour (no castaways on Gilligan’s Island here). You return to Montparnasse at around 1 a.m. On the English page you will find information for the Association, the place, the date, the route, security, membership in Pari Roller, and rules of the game.

The police start the run along with the Pari-Roller staff and they pull up the rear. On Friday night a lady wanted to cross Boulevard de Palais. A policeman on his skates whipped over and safely wove her between the speeding masses to the other side.

Find more sporting information on the Mayor of Paris web page: Pedal power or skates: free trips around Paris

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