Magazine article The Spectator

Besotted-Again

Magazine article The Spectator

Besotted-Again

Article excerpt

Paris

What was it that Papa called Paris in his paean to the city? Something about a moveable feast, I believe, and about being a mistress that never grows old. She sure doesn't. In the 21 years that I've been writing in The Spectator I must have scribbled at least 40 columns about the City of Light, and have never failed to use the cliche about how besotted I am about the place.

This week was no different. Fresh from having done close to 100 miles of hiking in one week with Paul Johnson in the Swiss Alps - we lost Lady Carla after three days to the lure of Henry Kissinger's Connecticut Alps - the mother of my children and I drove to where good Americans go when they die. Once upon a time, with few cars on the road, the trip took a good eight hours driving fast and non-stop. We made it in six, stopping for a leisurely lunch, and arriving fresh after the air-conditioned wonders and soft suspension of a brand new Jeep Cherokee. And the beautiful autoroute.

Soft Parisian summer evenings evoke great nostalgia, and last Sunday night was no exception. As dusk descended we walked to the Pont de l'Alma and a delicious dinner outdoors at Chez Francis. The only bad note was a bunch of American youngsters wearing baseball caps, enormous trainers and below the knee shorts. They were looking for the tunnel. I remember the time when Americans came to Paris for `la douceur de vivre'; now they come for the Pont de l'Alma tunnel.

Yet the city, as always, prevails. Who cares about the barbarians when the place is full of monuments to politically incorrect soldiers and poets? Even the few buildings that are covered in grime are beautiful, old and stately. The city's parks and plazas have never looked better, thanks to the earlier football theatrics. Ah yes, I almost forgot, it was also collection time, as in Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, and some others whose names do not deserve to be mentioned in the elegant pages of The Spectator.

Although my knowledge of fashion is on a par with Bill Clinton's veracity, I do know what I like. In the past there were three: Chanel, Hubert de Givenchy and Balenciaga. Now there are four: Valentino, Carolina Herrera, Bill Blass and Oscar de la Renta. The rest should all be arrested, have large pieces of cement attached to their feet, and thrown into the deepest part of the Seine for crimes against women. …

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