Newly inaugurated as Perec’s Bench, this place is thought to be the viewpoint from which author Georges Perec sat and wrote his lesser-known Oulipo text about ‘what happens when nothing happens’. Recently translated into English as ‘An Attempt At Exhausting a Place In Paris’.
His observations of Place Saint Sulpice from over forty years ago drew me into revisiting the place a couple of years ago (October 2014), and remarkably it remains a time-piece. A notable feature is its original mid-1800s decorative fountain which on approaching hits you with its monumental roar of cascading water; possibly the sound-fix for animating the structure’s stunning stone-carved lion figures.
Discovering Paris through literature can take us to places otherwise left untrodden, and this spot fits the brief perfectly. A great spot, where on a crisp autumn day, you can sit and contemplate in the heart of Paris’s 6th district. A unique stopping-off point for an eventful day people watching, maybe? Priceless.
There’s also a virtual visit which soaks up the sights and the sounds of the place’s people and architecture, loosely written in Haiku texts. It’s something I put together in homage; retracing Perec’s original footsteps, that same October weekend, but 40 years later. So ‘what happens when nothing happens’? Check in with ‘An(other) Attempt At Exhausting a Place In Paris‘, an immersive and offbeat tour around Place Saint Sulpice.