The Sparkle of Paris

Photo by Getty

Bill Simons


It rains and Paris’ spirits sag. Gloomy grays feel grim – drizzles dampen. But on sunny days this town is transformed. Its light dazzles bright.

“Everything is better with the sun,” says the Indian writer with the warm smile in the media bar. Today Parisian breezes are soft. They offer hints. Innocence and renewal scent the air. Now the French chatter bounces loud. Its sing-song conversations fill centuries-old alleys by ancient buildings. 

A cruel invasion 1,298 miles away somehow feels distant. We barely notice the homeless man lying flat by the Societe Generale bank lobby. Instead we see a green canopy of leaves over Rue Molitor, peacefully oblivious to the din of sprinting motorcycles.  

This morning, within the sports haven that is Roland Garros, the sun sparkles bright. Giddy kids sprint with more glee – their autograph balls bounce higher, their hopscotch games seem more free. By mid-morning the line for waffles is 12 deep. The endless queue for Lavazza espressos has its own serpentine twist. In the shadow of Philippe Chatrier Stadium, a folk trio – guitarist, singer and a washboard whiz – offer gentle tunes.

We hear Scandinavian accents, we spot flowing Arabian garb and white continental chapeaus with orange brims. Army cadets with their gold buttons, white gloves, odd Napoleonic hats and epaulets watch the Serb Novak Djokovic hold court on a clay carpet. 

All the while, the corridor under Court Suzanne Lenglen has its own inner life. A boy eagerly chases his tennis ball, two young girls giggle with delight, a sullen woman in splashy silver sandals is lost in her phone and two players bitterly complain about the ATP not awarding points for Wimbledon.

Roland Garros is not the foremost attraction in this magical city. It’s not the Louvre. The Eiffel Tower stands miles away, and Sartre’s Left Bank has little use for break points. But today we embrace a special Parisian gift: Roland Garros, free and breezy, on a feel-good spring afternoon.



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