A Portrait of Aulnay-Sous-Bois

Today was another day of foiled plans and mystery but redeemed eventually by me successfully disembarking a train on a whim to visit an unlikely part of the French suburbs.

The day started in confusion. Had the clocks gone back? If they had, had my phone automatically registered the change, in the way it now seems to know when I move through time zones? Not caring to overestimate the cleverness of Apple technology, I was forced to spend the first half hour of the day surfing French stations and listening out for a time check. Pénible in the extreme. I still had no idea if the clocks had changed, but it seemed i was at least synchronized with the French and thus, more importantly, the airport.

Next I set out to do the Cutlog Art fair (the unofficial alternative to the established FIAC art fair) before landing on FIAC itself. Cutlog was a sad disappointment compared to last year when it was edgy and original. This year it seemed full of Cubist pastiches done on distorted chipboard, splattered and defaced old master-ish works, and clichéd photos of not very much. Seeing passé ideas reworked without originality or even skill is dispiriting. It made me look forward to FIAC even more.

Except FIAC when I arrived had an hour long queue. I decided no art fair could be worth an hour long queue, and as I wondered what to do with my remaining 5 hours, visions again of anonymous cafés in suburban sunshine sprang to mind.

It was enough. I raced back to Châtelet to hop on the first available stopping train to the airport, and only an hour later found myself sauntering along the sunny streets under the impossibly blues suburban skies of Aulnay-sous-Bois.

As I stepped out of the station, I was surprised to sense an edginess to the town. It certainly felt edgier than Cutlog. The glimpse of so many bourgeois pre-war town houses from the train had convinced me it would be a very genteel bourgeois sort of place. But I emerged into more chaos, flapping rubbish and noise than a third world shanty town. It had, it seems, been market day, and after eventually finding the tranquil streets of maisons bourgeoises i had anticipated, I discovered it was some kind of local festival day. I had, it transpired, hit Aulnay-sous-Bois on one if the most exciting days of its year. Or maybe, just maybe, it was a normal Sunday?
The Station
A Front View of the Station

I soon realized I had missed the market

But the market remains were all too evident


I was pleased to discover coffee in the sun was a lot cheaper than in central Paris or indeed in Leeds

I was thrilled to discover a haunted house behind high ivy-clad gates

And then the genteel quiet streets

With dog turds carefully collected and bagged and neatly placed in the gutter

By now, the maisons bourgeoises were ten a penny

And finally I stopped to watch the town having fun at the local
Festival in the park where a good day was clearly had by all

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One response to A Portrait of Aulnay-Sous-Bois

  1. There can be so much fun just wandering a strange part of the world, looking for the perfect coffee and seeking the heart of what is going on. Love that you just headed out to find something different.


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