old salut!

Colin Randall wrote here on France, things Anglo-French and more......but has moved

October 12, 2006

London vs Paris

This site has now moved to Salut!

All that flitting between France and Britain has sharpened my appreciation of the little things that separate the two countries.

There are bigger distinctions too, of course, and I have a feeling these will crop up here as they did at another blogging place.

Picture by Paul Cooper

I always look forward to visits home but this has a lot to do with the people I want to see when I get there, and - as a past master of juggling travel plans with football fixtures lists - what I may want to do.

But on a largely football-free weekend (my regulars know of my less than wholehearted passion for internationals, though I will make a point of watching my younger daughter play for Acton Ladies tomorrow), I have been reduced to contemplating matters London vs Paris.

There is plenty wrong with life in Paris. It is stressful, crossing the road is perilous even on green, you get ripped off in many restaurants and bars and there is never an employee on hand to help when the machine rejects your perfectly valid Metro ticket.

But no Parisian, or French for that matter, barman has ever asked me to accept a cardboard cup for wine, as happened in the cafe next to Eurostar arrivals at Waterloo as I waited for my wife's train.

And no one is yet accosting me in Parisian streets with copies of free newspapers they want to shove in my face. Effectively unemployed for the first time since I was a teenager, I grudgingly acknowledge the boost this war of the freebies has given to a certain corner of the labour market.

Yet I cannot help sympathising with one wit I saw trying to win readers and reduce his pile of papers in the rain outside the Monument Tube station. "They're rubbish but they're free," he cried. "And they make good umbrellas."

Then there are the first stirrings of Christmas and New Year promotional activity, perhaps even more pronounced in the provinces. I came across Xmas dinner ads in Britan at the end of September; I don't think we'll see much of that in France for weeks to come.

London did threaten a late equaliser, though. A simple Indian meal in Chiswick, nowhere near the best I've encountered even in London W4, was nevertheless so good that I was quickly reminded of a significant downside to expat life in France.

Then a visit to the National Gallery enhanced our London experience by being free, which the Louvre isn't. Unfortunately, the paintings of Cezanne, Monet, Manet and Renoir made me homesick for the places depicted: the Bois de Boulogne (yes, by day), the Tuileries, Montmartre and Provence.

The honest truth is that I cannot wait to get back to the Gard du Nord tomorrow night.

This site has now moved to Salut!


At October 12, 2006 10:28 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

London vs Paris... it is, of course, no contest:
Paris, every time

At October 13, 2006 11:57 AM, Blogger Colin Randall said...

I am sorry that one result of my concerns about comment content is that Bill Taylor seems to have made the only response to this posting. In fact, there were more than 40 replies by the time I felt I had to delete and re-post it.

Read Rough and Smooth, which now appears out of sequence, for an explanation. It is not as simple as Philb suggests, that "this is your private space, you can do whatever you want to".

Two of the problems that I am trying to grapple with:

1) As a private individual, how much time can I realistically devote to checking for libel/abuse before allowing a post to appear?

2) What if one word or phrase troubles me? As I understand blogspot, the only choice I have is to delete or publish the entire message. I cannot simply edit out the offending part.

Richard of Orleans suggests asking the sender to withdraw or amend a posting, but this would meet my concerns only if it could somehow be done in advance, not once the comment is up there for the world to see.

Perhaps Sarah Hague, who also uses blogspot, could offer some wise words of advice.......

At October 13, 2006 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having delved into blogger there are only two comment options:
1. moderate them
2. no moderation, but comments can be removed once published if the administrator is logged on, by clicking on the little dustbin in the post, bottom left.

However, self-moderation is the best policy, especially considering Colin's current situation.

PetiteAnglaise only made her situation public once it had been resolved so as not to jeopardise her position with her employers.

If we want Colin to continue blogging, we have to help him out by refraining from making dodgy comments, of any sort.

At October 13, 2006 2:41 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

Count me in as a self-moderator.

At October 13, 2006 7:05 PM, Blogger June Harper said...

People wielding free papers are one thing but try nipping out for a 15 minute lunch break only to be accosted by no fewer than 6 different volunteers working for various charities ready to pounce on you asking you to sign up. Something that takes about 10 minutes each time. Walking to get a sandwich is sometimes like an obstacle race, or like being in a computer game, things come at you from all angles, courriers, free paper people, charity vultures, hari krishna's and people preaching about god.

At October 13, 2006 7:19 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

When I lived in New York, June, at the height of the Hare Krishna and Moonie thing, the quickest way to get them to leave you alone was for YOU to ask THEM for money. It was the one thing they didn't have an instant answer for. So it might be worth a try.

At October 13, 2006 7:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Until the Maire of Montpellier cleaned things up, you couldn't walk in the centre of town without being harassed by dirty louts with dogs for money. Once the Maire had removed the steps of the main fountain meeting place and put a cafe in front of the opera house, the two favourite places for them to hang out, it all became a lot pleasanter.

We also get market researchers and petitioners. The charity guys are also about, but not as aggressive as chuggers, yet.

Lost in the last remarks, was also my recounting of seeing Christmas advent calenders and chocolates in Norma! Horrendous. You can't get advent calenders without chocolate here either. They just aren't sold. You can get Star Wars ones, Bob the Builder ones, and Barbie ones though, amongst others...

At October 13, 2006 7:49 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

A Barbie Advent calendar. That sounds like a natural for eBay, Sarah. Inveigle a few crazed U.S. collectors into a bidding war and it could help make your post-Advent Christmas a little merrier.
Toronto has an ongoing problem with street-people (as we rather euphemistically call them) begging, some more aggressively than others. But the real annoyance are the kids, who tend to work in pairs and shill for local hospital charities, Greenpeace and similar unimpeachable causes. "Hi," they chirrup. "Got a second for...." It really sets your teeth on edge. I'll take the drunken panhandler on the corner over them any day.

At October 20, 2006 10:26 PM, Anonymous alison said...

Paris? LOL. London by a mile..or several.

At November 04, 2006 12:55 PM, Anonymous June Harper said...

I spent a summer in Montpellier whilst at uni studying French and Sarah I remember well the gangs of homeless people. The shell of this beautiful town shone but it's under belly was a different story. There were literally gangs of homeless people walking the streets begging, usually high and unpredictable and with packs of straggly and probably rabid dogs.
It didn't feel like a safe place to walk alone at night.


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