On the Monday I took a train from Bordeaux to Paris. This journey under grey skies brought me back to earth with a jolt. The landscape I passed through seemed tedious and ordinary, especially beyond Poitiers, and flat, featureless, arable fields stretched as far as the eye could see. Or perhaps I was just feeling a little tired and jaded after my long walk...
I arrived at Gare Montparnasse in the early evening. It was pouring with rain, and I walked for half an hour through the rain to the Hôtel de Nesle, a cheap, tiny, off-beat hotel near Place Saint-Michel. The next day I explored Paris, city of love and romance, but on this occasion I didn't find much of either. I think it was something to do with my mood, which had become dull and listless...
|The famous 13th-century stained glass windows of La Sainte-Chapelle.|
|La Sainte-Chapelle under grey Parisian skies.|
|The centre west portal of Notre-Dame. This stupendous example of Gothic art depicts the Last Judgment.|
|Notre-Dame de Paris. The cathedral's three rose windows — north, south and west (you can see the west one here) — are some of the great artistic masterpieces of Christianity.|
|Le Pont des Arts. Here couples pledge their undying love for each other by attaching a padlock to the railings and throwing the key into the river below.|
|Near the Rue Mouffetard on the Left Bank.|
|The Pantheon is a mausoleum which contains the remains of distinguished French citizens. Here is the memorial to aviator and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who wrote The Little Prince.|
|Underneath the the Pantheon's central cupola.|
|The university of the Sorbonne.|
|Place de la Sorbonne.|
After two weeks' walking through remote, rural France, I soon found the grand buildings of Paris — those monumental symbols of wealth, power and privilege — rather oppressive. I began to feel unwell, and a cloud of lethargy and mild depression enveloped me...