JUSTICE LEAGUE OF FRANCE: Instapundit posts a letter from his Paris correspondent Claire Berlinski in which she mentions a large amount of security around the Palais de Justice ("Palace of Justice") due to the TotalFinaElf corruption trial that's going on there at the moment.

I don't have much to say about the trial, other than "duh".

But I do want to tell you a little story about the Palace of Justice. When my brother, myself, and one of our friends travelled in Europe in the summer of 2001 (we got home less than a week before 9/11) we visited the Palace of Justice in Paris, largely because the name sounds really cool. We had to walk a ways to get there, and when we arrived it was around 3pm on a Thursday afternoon -- the place was utterly deserted.

There was a security guard at the pedestrian entrance who made us walk through a metal detector, but once we were inside the huge and ornate structure we were amazed that we appeared to be the only people there. A few people in suits walked past us on the ground floor, but once we went up a few staircases we were all alone. Every door was unlocked and every room was empty. It was very surreal, like we were in Tel'aran'rhiod.

At first we were worried that we were in some forbidden area and that we'd get thrown into some Parisian jail and left for dead, but after wandering for a while we became convinced that there was no one to discover our presence anyway. We found several concealed spiral staircases that led up to various storage (?) cells (mostly filled with boxes and rubbish), and a few bolted doors that led to various parts of the roof. The doors were only bolted from the inside, however, and we were able to easily make our way out onto the top of the building using conveniently placed ladders.

We didn't have digital cameras with us, but we did take a lot of pictures from top of the palace (which I will scan, if I can find them). The Eiffel Tower was clearly visible from one angle, as was the Seine River. We felt like cat-burglers escaping from Justice League of France. Eventually the sun went down and the novelty wore off.

When we left, even the guard who had been at the main gate had gone home.



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