moments of illumination in the city of light

010 : Tom Frozart Cluny-La Sorbonne metro station, 5th arrondissement
Born in 1952 in Bretagne, France, Tom Frozart currently works as project coordinator Why Paris? I live there most of the time He digs the following Paris bits: 1. Jardin Alpin (within Jardin des Plantes) 2.Choice of Movies 3.Bookshops 4.Courtyards 5.Open Markets He is, however, a bit miffed by the dogs, Saturday evenings, the Champs Elysées, mopeds, and the Tour Montparnasse For more info on Tom Frozart you should send an email.

image: Ippei Justin Naniwa

“Her soul is okay though, she’s just received Holy Communion at Saint-Nicolas, one station before”

Cluny - La Sorbonne, 7:50AM – The front carriage is packed out with schoolgirls looking down at their knees, revising lessons, or reflecting on the virtues of silence and humility.  No males in sight; nannies or elder sisters shepherd the younger ones.  Would they raise their eyes, they’d get a glimpse at their fate, in the shape of a ghastly figure standing by the door.  Navy blue skirt, bottle green tights, no defined age, repeated pregnancies have taken their toll; her soul is okay though, she’s just received Holy Communion at Saint-Nicolas, one station before.  From Boulogne they’ll cross the river in procession and climb to Saint Pie X, the Roman Catholic sanctuary across the street from my office.  Behind its high walls, nuns instil the blessings of motherhood in innocent minds, at bay from the nefarious influence of Babylon-upon-Seine and its wagonloads of sinners.

The two next carriages are full up too; Africans and Eastern European escapees, Chinese and Turks, West Indians and Arabs, all trying to catch up on their sleep.  A Gypsy plays an accordion on a screeching mode.  The underground artist composes his face to suit each fragment of clichéd tune chosen to cheer up any dozing audience; he locks his eyes onto a first traveller, shifts at random to another one in the hope of extorting a smile of compassion that a kid in tattered clothes will convert into petty cash.  Yet the begging cup will stay empty; might have studied psycho-musicology under the late Ceaucescu, too early for Piaf, Lemarque, and Katchaturian.  No space for the Holy Trinity in non-Christian lives, not the right line, not the right time.

I’m tucked between a pram and the door in the second last carriage, standing on the last free spot, looking through the glass into the last wagon.  A space-time enclave where boys and girls call out to each other and show off in the latest cheap and hype gear fallen from the shelf; final destination: Boulogne’s coed Jewish complex.  They won’t cross the Catholic girls getting out at the opposite end of the platform.  Sephardic Jews, exiled en masse to their foster motherland, after France lost its colonies in North Africa.  No au pairs looking after pre-schoolers, mothers and aunts as required.  Most belong to families in the rag trade; boys in kippahs and Nikes; tarted up teen girls exposing midriffs, muffin waists and inflated boobs; flesh ranks high on the womanhood scale, no catwalk material.  Wedding photos pass hands, giggles will be heard all the way to the terminus.  Within a few years they’ll work in some fashion shop, marry, come back to Line 10 at 7:50, in mum’s seat and shoes, last carriage.

7:51AM, doors slam shut.  A black hole sucks away the white and turquoise time capsule; Cluny station shrinks to a pinhead in the distance.

Et voilà.

location information

  • Name: 5th arrondissement
  • Address: Metro Cluny-La Sorbonne Blvd St Germain 75005 Paris
  • Time of story: Morning
  • Latitude: 48.853239
  • Longitude: 2.344594
  • Map: Google Maps



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