One bitter cold night in Paris, in a Montmartre café over soupe aux oignons and steaming cups of hot wine, I mentioned to Vitali and Wilhem that I wanted to see the Monument to Alexandre Dumas created by Gustave Doré, particularly his sculpture of D’Artagnon from The Three Musketeers.
Vitali, obviously having just come from a successful showing at Paris Fashion Week, said, “Let’s do it!”
We didn’t know the location of the monument so Vitali used Google maps and we discovered it was in Place du Général-Catroux in the 17th arrondissement, supposedly only a short 39 minute walk from where we were.
With newfound purpose and determination, we left the warmth of Chez Ma Cousine, and set off into the cold Parisian night.
First through Montmartre, past Sacré-Cœur…
And then down the long staircases, with a stop to visit Le Chat du Montmartre.
We did fine for a while, on track and on target…we passed from Montmartre into Pigalle, where an enthusiastic Vitali posed before the Moulin Rouge.
From there something happened…I don’t know what. Vitali doesn’t know. Wilhem doesn’t know. We assume Google maps led us astray. We walked. And we walked. No monument. We walked. We walked. We couldn’t check the map as we did not have wifi. “This is the right way, I sure of it,” Vitali insisted, and still we walked, and the hour grew late. We stopped people walking their dogs and Wilhem asked if they knew where the Monument to Alexandre Dumas might be found. They had never heard of it. And so we walked.
I saw that my shoes were starting to behave the way shoes should not – that is, they began to break apart (see previous post: Paris: A Tale of Two Oxfords. I said we should give up. “No,” Vitali insisted, “we can’t give up – not after we’ve come so far.” I began to feel like one of those noble explorers fallen by the jungle trail, urging my companions to, “Go on without me! Save yourselves!”
Urging, poking, prodding, and then – and then – voilà! The monument, looming out of the darkness.
It had a fence around it to keep out trespassers, but did that stop me? It did not. I climbed over the fence, trespassed with abandon, figured a way through the planted garden, and found myself face to shoe with the great D’Artagnon himself.
And so now I’ve done it.
I’ve seen it.
I trespassed, risking imprisonment in the Bastille and, possibly, the guillotine.
I need not go there again.