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Phespirit goes to France
Paris     March 2000

Rain subsides and clouds part as Phespirit makes a long overdue first visit to Paris. Having arrived at the Gare du Nord by Eurostar from London, Phespirit footslogs up to the top of the Butte de Montmartre (lofty perch of the Sacré Coeur) before realising that his hotel is, in fact, all the way down the other side. This had clearly NOT been the most effecient way to traverse the city. Nevertheless, the exercise demonstrated that Paris is not as vast as one might think and that any reasonable walk is bound to present the newcomer with pleasant surprises on the way. On this first trek, Phespirit stumbled upon Au Lapin Agile (historic hip nightclub for intellectuals) and the only vineyard in the capital.

Taking to the Metro, Phespirit headed further afield, to the Arc de Triomphe to commence a stroll up the Avenue des Champs-Elysées and along the River Seine to the Cathedrale Notre-Dame. Predictably fine views are to be appreciated from the top of the cathedral towers, including those of Notre-Dame's resident falcons: circling, calling, hovering - it's a bizarre and unexpected thing to look down on the backs of two falcons hovering over the centre of Paris .....

In the Louvre Museum it might be possible to lose one's self for a month. However, in a single morning Phespirit restricted himself to inspecting the first floor Denon wing paintings, the Greek antiquities of the Sully ground floor, plus the adjacent exhibits from Pharaonic Egypt, the Levant and antique Iran. It must be conceded that, indeed, this is probably the most impressive museum in the world, both in terms of its collection and its setting. However, Phespirit always keeps in mind the massive extent of vandalism and pillaging suffered by the rest of Europe during the Napoleonic wars in order that these treasures might be thus assembled, all under one roof.

Paris is a truly beautiful city - the locale of Montmartre is especially pretty - and exceeds expectations even during this winter month when the trees are still denuded of leaves and the flowers remain below ground. Phespirit looks forward to the time of his return.

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