I did my favourite thing: commandeered an armchair and a chair without arms for my feet and sat in the Luxembourg Garden under two sequoias facing the orchard, on the left, and beehives on the right, with the last of the dark-eyed Susans and some blue delphiniums on long stalks. The sun was going down behind an apartment building on the Rue d'Assas. The students from the Lycee Montaigne had all gone home to do their homework. Around me were others reading or having conversations I eavesdropped on shamelessly.

It is, or was, a beautiful day, the chestnut trees are turning colour and the plane trees' fingertips meet overhead, making the allees into tunnels with light at the end. Something was happening in the Orangerie: that section of the Garden was blocked off and guarded and on the other side of the barrier paparazzi milled round with long lenses on their cameras. Pairs sat around tables playing chess, usually with a few onlookers. It was blissful.