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This report is taken from PN Review 84, Volume 18 Number 4, March - April 1992.

Stendhal on the Canebiére David Arkell
As my plane touched down at Marseille airport the European Cup Final at Bari was reaching crisis-point: the last minutes of a goal-less draw were pointing to a penalty shoot-out. It was not surprising that the bus service into town had been temporarily suspended.

I waited patiently till the game reached its grim conclusion. (The headlines next day were to say it all. JINXED, cried Le Meridional, while Le Provençal in even bigger type groaned IT MAKES YOU WEEP.) When at last we moved off the silence in the bus was eloquent.

I was unprepared for the scenes on the Canebiére that followed. Marseille had decided to celebrate. Groups of wild men were driving up and down the wide thoroughfare - a sort of Mediterranean (and steeply sloping) version of Fifth Avenue - hooting their horns and shouting insults. Caught up in the milling pavement crowd I was swept down towards the Old Port and my hotel in the rue Beauvau, where I checked in and soon fell fast asleep. I dreamt that the mock celebrations went on all night. In fact they did.

Stendhal's arrival in the rue Beauvau on the evening of 25 July 1805 had been more dignified. For one thing he had come by stagecoach, for which rue Beauvau was the terminus. Descending from the carriage he would have noticed with satisfaction that the Grand Theatre at the end of the street was quite an impressive building. For it was here ...


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