Pronounced doh-mahj – and easily one of my favourite words in the French language, not just because of its meaning (quite simply ‘pity’ but with ‘quel’ in front it becomes ‘what a pity’), but also because in order to utilise this word I will have needed to have understood at least part of what was just said to me (being kind to myself using the word ‘part’ purely for context).
For example, I might hear ‘nous n’avons plus de pain chocolat,’ (we have no more pain chocolat), to which I have been known to reply ‘oh, quel dommage,’ and I’m sure the Boulanger looks at me and thinks to himself, ‘no Madame, I think I just did you a favour’.
In a more theatrical manner, I also use dommage when reading signs like ‘le musée est fermé le lundi’ (‘the museum is closed on Monday’ – this is important to note in Paris and actually, I should know this by now), and in which case I would simply mutter under my breath, ‘oh, quel dommage’. No one hears me for it’s usually just me and the pigeons but for what it’s worth, it makes me feel purposeful amongst the pigeons.
Today, I used a fair quota of ‘dommages’ – first when I overhead the guard at Saint Chappel telling a rather blotchy faced American that the chapel wouldn’t be opening until 2 o’clock this afternoon (dommage- it was at that point 1.00 pm).
‘Never mind,’ I thought, ‘we’ll head off to see Uncle Picasso up in the Marais’ – and off I set at quite the pace with my satchel full of school books, along the Rue de Rivoli, left into Rue Vieille du Temple towards the Museum of Jewish Art and History (on list must get there soon), before sweeping down Rue des Rosiers (actually one of my favourite streets in Paris- full of shops and falafel vendors), and up via the Square Georges Caïn, a tranquil little square that sits just moments away from Maison Victor Hugo and the Place de Vosges.
After taking some ‘much needed’ photos of people sitting peacefully eating their lunch in the square with an overflowing graffitied rubbish skip in the background, I continued (and still at pace) to Place de Thorigny, where Musee de Picasso is situated.
It was there that I read the sign about Mondays (double dommage).
So excited was I to return to the resting place of one of the biggest collections of works by my hero, and at such a pace was I walking, I almost mowed down a civilian who was also muttering under his breath about Monday closures.
‘Never mind,’ I thought for the second time today ‘there is always tomorrow,’ and with that I lumbered across to le Wood Cafe in Place de Thorigny, where I had a tepid coffee and took time to read the news and catch my breath.
This morning marked the beginning of my final week of French classes (I’m not sure my French teacher thinks that’s a pity), and I finish up at the Eurocentre on Friday afternoon.
Next week, I will spend whole days continuing to explore this beautiful city before traveling to India on the 26th of January. To say that this trip has gone too quickly would be a pretty gigantic understatement- I can’t deny that my heart might be sinking like the Titanic every time I think about packing up.
It’s easy to be wistful, particularly when you’re holding onto a moment in time that is so special and a privilege to be a part of, and as I wandered through the Place de l’Hotel de Ville this afternoon- a significant Parisian landmark and one which always ‘marks the spot’ when I’m making my way home, I thought about how grand and important that building really is. I stood in its shadows and smiled in the afternoon light as the sun peeked through the clouds- the carousel in its forecourt lit up as I stood pondering the light, the sky and the sheer size of the building and a little boy squealed with joy while his grandmother proudly took photos.
That grand building has been the headquarters of the municipality of Paris since 1357- and it stands as physical proof that Paris is going nowhere and I know in my heart (and like so many have known in their hearts before me), that there is always tomorrow and a hundred more tomorrows.