It's a summery Sunday morning and the church service across the street has just started to the tune of mournful hymns sung at the tempo of a dirge, but I can't quite bring myself to close the windows and deprive myself of the flutter of pigeon wings, rolly bags, high heels, cars cruising for parking spots. Last night the street noise went on late; I was wakened sometime in the wee hours by African-accented voices having a loud argument under my window. The argument began on the left and faded away to the right, and I didn't get up to see what all the shouting was about, though I was sorely tempted. When I did finally get up it was to the sound--new here, though perfectly normal in San Francisco--of mandarin. A young couple going their different ways around the church and exchanging last minute instructions--or so I imagined.

Yesterday I went to the Marais late afternoon for a reading and saw a wedding party leaving the church--on bicycles. The groom and bride led the cortege, she sidesaddle on the luggage rack, he peddling, dragging a couple of white enamel kitchen pots behind them. Then came the parents, and the friends. All very noisy and cheerful and head-turning.

I waited at the bus stop, Carrefour de l'Odeon, next to a woman sitting on the base of the statue of Danton, who told me she wasn't waiting for a bus, she was people-watching: she didn't get into Paris (from surburban-but-barely Boulogne-Billancourt) very often and she'd been to the Poetry Market and now she was watching people, from her perch on the pedestal about a foot from the bus lane. She worked, she said, in the Tourist Office.