Photo © François Grunberg
I wasn’t always a Count, and wasn’t always called St. Germain either. I was born about 2200 years ago on a dirt islet, that after years of landfilling became the île de la Cité. My parents were poor boatmen of the Parisii celtic tribe.
I lived through the Roman invasion, the mixing of Celtic and Latin cultures, the christianisation of the region. This place changed borders and names so many times over the centuries that, to this day, I feel more Parisian than French. I know that the country called France today has never been a monolith, but an ever self-reinventing place of cultural, ethnic, religious, and political exchange.
I travelled a lot over the past 2000 years, but always came back to Paris. I have been a boatman, a farmer, a merchant, a soldier for hire, and a monk. I became rich and famous under Louis XV, grew politically during the French Révolution, and fought weapon in hand, in the streets, for the last time during Paris Commune. Since the arrival of photography, I have been much, much more discreet.
I have been into science since the Renaissance. Alchemy, philosophy, chemistry, molecular biology, neuroscience, AI, internet memes: I am fascinated -and sometimes appalled- by the evolution of technology and means of communications.
I was actually shooting a 360° video of Xmas lights on place de la Bastille for social networks when reality started bending and I fell… in a cell in the Bastille, facing the Man in the Iron Mask!
It was impossible: the Man in the Iron Mask was never real! I wasn’t in the past, but in the Spirit of Paris, the city’s collective unconscious, its fantasized image. Shaped by Hollywood, Netflix and Instagram, by the minds of billions of humans who think about Paris without living there. To escape this strange place, I created a ritual, mixing fiction and reality, magic and technology, and reappeared in Real Paris, near where I was born, in the middle of a Seine flood!
Since then, I have been travelling involuntarily between Real Paris and the Spirit of Paris. Thanks to you, I can download myself to your phone and walk the streets I miss so much. In exchange, you’ll learn more about the city, its ancient and recent history, its incredible inhabitants, both famous and unknown: be my legs, I’ll be your ears!