In Paris, I never expected to fall in love. And yes, I know how weird that seems. Who doesn’t even go to Paris without anticipating that their tour will bring a little bit of love? It is the whole point of the place, and besides.

But when I reached the City of Light, I had just suffered a lengthy break-up in London. I felt like that of an emotional refugee arriving in Paris: escaping a broken romance, determined to find a pleasant little corner of the world where I knew no soul, where the wine was inexpensive, and where I could respond to my broken heart.

I didn’t have a passion for love. It led only to pain and grief. My only goal was to imitate the authors who had come before me, to sit down at Hemingway’s movable feast table, and to drink and eat to the satisfaction of my heart.

But the city had other plans for me, as it played out, just as it had countless thousands of hopeless romanticists before me.

And the truth of the matter is that in Paris you cannot avoid love. It’s flagrantly displayed on every corner of the street.

Alona Koenig Photography. Fine art film wedding and bridal boudoir photographer in Cairo, Egypt

The French are the undebatable masters of public displays of affection, somewhat apart from the fact that the entire city looks like a romantic comedy film set-the kind of location where Meg Ryan could goofily fall in love or Marlon Brando might take an apartment near the Seine and have a lot of steamy afternoon sex.

Sitting at a café, minding your own business, is not unusual, just to have your croque monsieur disrupted at the next table by a romantic couple playing an enthusiastic tonsil hockey game.

Nor is it absolutely rare for couples in France to have almighty lovers’ tiffs on street corners or at the local pub, for that matter.

After living in Paris for ten years, I came to realize that a feeling is never properly felt in France until it has found expression in public, in full view of total strangers. Love, I concluded, was a spectator sport, and every French man and woman was always ready to run and play a melodramatic role on the field.

As a country, France is indeed a high-emotion, country-sized cauldron. Every French individual understands that they may be called upon to make an explicitly romantic gesture at any given moment, to spend hours chasing a member of the opposite (or same) sex (often a total stranger), or to argue passionately with their partner and then furiously make up.

It is also entirely beyond me how the country gets some work done.

France is the world capital of flirting, as well. And one of the many great pleasures of living in the City of Light is that. There is an unwritten consensus between all Parisians that it is not only permissible to subtly flirt on the street with strangers, it is compulsory.

The raising of an eyebrow as you walk up the Metro stairs, a flirtatious smile, a lingering glance. Far from being hostile or predatory, it is an appreciation of a fellow human’s attempt to look good that day. A harmless gesture that says: I’m alive, you’re alive, both of us have blood flowing through our veins, and while I’m hell-bent on getting on the train and getting my wife and children to work/home, in another life, in another time, well, who knows? For both parties, it is life-affirming and brings La Vie a Paris the frisson it is rightly popular for.

Female wedding photographer in Cairo. Wedding and bridal boudoir photography in Egypt

And so I found myself falling in love in Paris, against this highly charged backdrop and against my best judgment.

I arrived in Paris on Friday and started working in a small café near the Seine on Saturday. I got a small salary from the owner, but it included a small flat above the café. Another woman was working and living in the café as well. Gitte was her name and she was from Denmark. She has been living in Paris for 5 years now. Gitte was going to become a friend and confidant of mine.

Gitte, who looked tall and very elegant, had come to Paris to model and encountered an odd array of the most colorful Parisians in the process.

They were all performers, musicians, or writers. In his studio, Gitte invited me to a party offered by an artist. Umberto was his name. He was half Italian and he was built like a little boxer. With black skin, a nose that is crooked, and sturdy arms. Umberto has taken on an instant love for me. We visited his studio, and some of his work, he showed me. There were a great many pieces unfinished. 

Umberto was a carver. He presented me with champagne. I discovered that he liked me. I searched out Gitte when the party was ending and asked if it was safe to stay a little longer with Umberto. Gitte had gotten drunk.

“I trust him completely. He has a lovely touch” he said laughingly.

Umberto sat me down on a low couch after everyone had left. I was sitting on a chair opposite him. We’ve spoken. He told me about his sculptors, and I told him about the dreams I had. For an hour, we talked, never letting our eyes wander far away from others.

“I would like to sculpt you.” Finally, he said.

“I could not be a model Umberto, I know nothing about your world” I said, within me rising with this very desire.

Wedding photographer Alona Koenig. French, English, Russian and Ukrainian speaking photographer in Cairo, Egypt

He sat in silence. I wondered if I would be kissed by him. I laid myself on the sofa, pondering his request. Umberto came around and sat down at my feet. I did not know that Umberto had entirely stopped talking. He slipped off my shoes and rubbed over my feet with his hands. As if they were made of crystal, he held my feet. His palms sweated.

It was as if he was trying to coat a thin layer of paint on my foot. He was stroking every aspect of my feet. His hands did not lose touch with my skin at any point. In this way, Umberto slowly raised both legs up.

There was no single piece of my skin left untouched. This was the adventure I was craving for. It was the life that I needed. My hips had been penetrated by Umberto.

“Please, may I strip off your dress?” he asked.

A single “Yes” was all I was saying.

I stood and he removed my dress delicately. As he started to disrobe me, I did not deter him. It was cool, and on my skin, I could feel the bumps growing. Umberto was frowning.

“You must be smooth”, he said.

All around me, he lit candles and I lay on the sofa, watching him. I’ve warmed up. Umberto started, stoically, as before, with his feet. The continuous caresses have caused their own heat. The warmth of his hands slowly started to match the rising heat inside me. He caressed the coils of my sex softly as he approached the top of my thighs. He went on towards my waist.This love making scenario paved the way for our romantic love journey, as we completely fell in love and lived happily today.

Award winning fine art wedding and bridal boudoir photographer in Cairo, Egypt. French, English and Russian speaking wedding photographer in Cairo. Fine art film photographer in Cairo, Egypt. Vintage charm. Timeless elegance. French ‘joie de vivre’.

It was my pleasure having you here. Thank you for your interest in my works and I hope to meet you soon!

Alona Koenig

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