I was only one year old when my father died. He left me a wrist watch and his wedding ring which were never given to me and a book. I have only the book, an old book called “Les Miserables by Victor Hugo”. I don’t remember him, therefore that book was like him to me. Reading it, I was walking in the streets of Paris where I had no chance to visit until I was thirty-three.
My Paris was from the book and my imagination. It had walls and gates so one could not enter without proper documentation even if they were French. Jean Valjan jumped from the city walls to escape Inspector Javert and police officers.
When I first visited the city on 2009, I was looking for my Paris from the book. Buildings, streets were almost the same but the people. Gates were not as strict as they were in the past I guess. Since then, I’ve been visiting the city for eight years and photographing what I see and feel.
Looking for the scenes from Hugo’s streets, I was seeing many other things. Africans earning their livings out of Eiffel, American bike polo players in front of Les Invalides, musicians and painters from eastern Europe, Mona Lisa lovers in Louvre, a diverse population both in center and suburbs... Beggars, homelesses, fugitives, tourists... I met Parisians too, hiding in their shells, watching their home change.
The world is changing, so is Paris. Borders and walls are disappearing.
I wonder what Javert would have done if he lived these days?