old salut!

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

November 16, 2006

France in flashes....2

This site has now moved to Salut!

Soon I will be leaving Paris, but not France. Two-and-a-half years in the City of Light is not much of a milestone but it's the longest I've lived anywhere outside London since the 1980s.

Thanks to this Parisian phase of my life, and indeed to living in France generally, I am able to start listing - in no special order - a few of the things I now know.

It is a work in progress; the number in the headline will change each time I have a flash of inspiration and want to add something. New thoughts will always appear at the top.

************** WHAT I KNOW NOW **************

* Policemen on roller skates and - when deployed as traffic cops - bicycles will always look like something out of a French farce.

* Marks & Spencer should be ordered to re-open its Paris store. Don't take my word for it; ask a native Parisian.

* The French are not the worst drivers in Europe and probably not even the second or third worst.

* Paris may not, despite a former colleague's insistence, be the City of a Thousand Bad Restaurants. But I am up to double figures and truly believe London now has a distinct edge on quality, variety and service - though not always value.

* Provincial France is still streets ahead for eating out. But my search for a good Indian restaurant here was doomed to failure.
* It is therapeutic to swear in English at psychopathic drivers who try to mow you down on green at pedestrian crossings. But this is not advisable if you happen to be having a mobile phone conversation with a charming American lady at the same time.

* If you want to find out something from a French ministry, make friends with a French official in London. Exposure to le modèle Anglo-Saxon will have given him a hint of urgency.

* Power walking or gentle jogging in the Tuileries is not recommended for those liable to feel like physical wrecks in the presence of superfit Parisian sapeurs pompiers.

* Arriving on time, for dinner, drinks or similar, is a serious gaffe. Getting there early is positively insulting and destined to bring social exclusion.

* Gard du Nord handles people more efficiently than Waterloo. And no one there will try to serve you wine in a cardboard cup.

* Anna Perry *** was right. The Champs Elysées may look pretty when lit up for Christmas but feels ugly and naff most of the time and, at the bottom end, menacing at night.

* Brits who want to live in France, but stick to English-speaking ghettos and recoil in horror from any idea of integration, bring disgrace on their country and should go home.

* French reality and game shows are even worse than those on British TV. And French television generally is dire.

* Leaving Paris on a TGV feels much better than coming back.

* Coming back to Paris on Eurostar feels much better than leaving.

*** Anna Perry is another casualty of the linking problem.
If you want to see past references to her, go to the Telegraph blogs home page, click on foreign and then you find me as "archived" at the bottom of the list of foreign correspondents. Type her name into the search facility.
Regulars will remember the makeover that left all early posts looking as if no one had replied. But go back to the very first in December 2005 and there is a link to the original version, complete with comments left at the time.

This site has now moved to Salut!


At November 16, 2006 11:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sounds very exciting, Colin. Which point of the compass will you be taking?

I agree with all your observations except Eurostar. I just love trundling through the Kent countryside, welcoming me back to Blighty.

I've almost given up on French tele. I watch Sky - 'Dalziel and Pascoe' last night. Lovely northern humour.

At November 16, 2006 3:08 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

Trundling is right. Whereas in France (and Belgium) the Eurostar whooshes along at the speed for which it was designed. Yet another metaphor for national decline.
Colin: The best of good fortune, mate. You'll do fine.

At November 16, 2006 3:25 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

I'm happy your staying in France. Your education is far from complete.The tipping point for the paradigm change is still a little way off.If you integrate the local life of province, which I am sure you will, then I am sure it will be the happiest time of your life.

Now Colin having spent your life grilling individuals and persuading them that the information 'is in the public interest', it is time for you to open up a little. Where does the pachage stand? What is your future? Are you still a fan of Anglo Saxon personnel policies?

At November 16, 2006 3:42 PM, Blogger Colin Randall said...

Thanks Richard. Reminds me of being a spotty young Press Association reporter and pressing the intercom to speak to Reginald Maudling, then in some difficulty.

"Mr Maudling," I began, "would you like to say something about all the messages of support you must have been receiving?"

My reply to you mirrors his to me: "Nice try."

At November 16, 2006 5:06 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...


At November 16, 2006 5:26 PM, Blogger Colin Randall said...

OK, maybe the acne had gone by then. What about "as in bald spots beginning to appear"?
But that's my last word before I head to London for farewell party, followed by Sunderland vs Colchester (you cannot imagine how many strings I had to pull to get a ticket for that one)

At November 16, 2006 5:55 PM, Blogger Louise said...

Is this post the beginning of a swan song?

At November 16, 2006 6:03 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

I have no inside information, Louise, but I suspect not. We could be about to witness a phoenix rising from the ashes of its own funeral pyre. Colin, as evidenced by his blind loyalty to Sunderland, is a man of strong, if sometimes incomprehensible, faith. It behooves us to keep our own faith in him and his return.

At November 16, 2006 6:14 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

Louise, your just a pessimistic goatgirl

At November 16, 2006 6:15 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

We'll keep the faith.

Likely to be eyed at the game by MI6 though.
That's how they do it.

For the duration, the odd poem or two coming when it's time.
And BT,do not poke around "odd"!

At November 16, 2006 6:28 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

Don't WHAT?

At November 16, 2006 6:55 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Richard has broken through the barricade over at D&D with a seven point discourse.

We can expect an invasion anytime.
Sharpen your pencils.Collect your wits.

At November 16, 2006 7:15 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

I think I'll go to Boston instead.

At November 16, 2006 7:44 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

To pacify Hippo running loose and clicking on his direction finder.

Dear little Hippo.
In your hour of need.
Before you come charging on four footed speed.
Think of the peace think of the quiet.
At your lush grassy patch,your favourite diet.
Take no notice of the stranger's shoe.
Two feet in the left one,harmless to you.

At November 16, 2006 8:25 PM, Anonymous James said...

Who are Boston playing tonight Bill?

At November 16, 2006 8:29 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

The Bruins are at home to the Toronto Maple Leafs. But I won't be there until tomorrow and hockey's not my thing, anyway.

At November 16, 2006 8:38 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

My problems are as nought compared to those of "Jed M," who appears to be one sick puppy. Whatever the Urban Dictionary's definition (and this one's totally new to me), when I say I'm going to Boston I mean I'm getting on a plane and that's where it's taking me.

At November 16, 2006 8:43 PM, Anonymous jed m said...

Yeah, I believe you, Bill Taylor.
Thousands wudn't.

At November 16, 2006 8:44 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...


At November 16, 2006 8:45 PM, Anonymous Jane FN said...

Whose leaving party? Yours? If so, then my invitation must have been wrongly addressed

At November 16, 2006 9:29 PM, Anonymous James said...

I dread to think what Jed's definition of "one sick puppy" is.

At November 16, 2006 9:53 PM, Anonymous Corinne said...

So it is us girls who you say are catty. You mecs leave us far, far behind you.

Is this a blog ? Or maybe a CHATroom ( meeeiow !!)

At November 16, 2006 9:59 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

For anyone looking for excitement tonight, the first estimations of the Fabius, Royal, DSK primary are due at 1 am French time. I guess I'll tune in at cornflakes time, but everybody is excited. We want to know who will give Bush's successor the run around.

At November 16, 2006 10:19 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Who will the winner be,Richard?

At November 16, 2006 10:29 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

I don't know. Everybody says Ségolene, I guess she will win but won't do as well as expected. She just upset the teachers, who are a major part of the electorate.

If you are bored while waiting for the results, may I suggest the TF1 television site. They have a questionaire to tell you if you are ready to have a baby. I just did it and apparently I have a strong desire to become pregnant, and will be a mature excellent mother.

If that doesn't interest you, there is an interactive Kama Sutra. You define what you are looking for and they give position, techniques, methodology.

And finally how to communicate with your man. " Don't use silence, they just love it when you stop talking"

At November 16, 2006 10:38 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Is this the shoe on the other foot,speaking?
Will you receive a reply to your D&D comment?He always replies.

At November 16, 2006 10:55 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

Well Anne he has a conundrum, as Alan Greenspan would say. He would sell his soul to get comments on his blog.I am the only person to put comments on his blog. But he doesn't like my comments and takes them down. So there you have it, will he won't he? I guess he'll refer the question to Myriam, since it's a tough decison.

At November 16, 2006 11:01 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

Exquisite in every sense of the word, Richard.

At November 16, 2006 11:03 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

It'll take awhile,but he'll have a good folowwing.Just a matter of time.
You did well over there.

At November 16, 2006 11:14 PM, Blogger Robert Marchenoir said...

"Arriving on time, for an appointment or dinner or whatever, is a serious gaffe. Getting there early is positively insulting and destined to bring social exclusion."

You mean when you go there as an important journalist?

Being late for an appointment would be a foolish thing to do if you were applying for a job, for instance.

At November 16, 2006 11:23 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

I read the same into it as Robert Marchenoir.
Nice to see some clarity.

I'm neither 5 minutes early or 5 minutes late.

At November 16, 2006 11:34 PM, Blogger Louise said...

Well, I've just checked on D&D and your comment is still up, Richard - although I think the subject matter was written with you in mind. And I'm sure he is regretting going off in a huff - however I see that James and Marchenoir are back and Corinne - now could that be Colin?!

So I wonder what the Phoenix has up his sleeve - I do hope he isn't going to become a sports commentator as he obviously has a passion for football - going all that way to see Sunderland play - a real labour of love, eh?

At November 16, 2006 11:44 PM, Blogger Louise said...

Me too, Anne - I admit that I am always on time which works well here in Switzerland but was hell in France and I was invariably left hanging around for at least 20 minutes and getting angry! I work on the principle of 'punctuality is the politeness of kings' but someone once said 'punctuality is the virtue of the bored', so perhaps I have been bored for a long, long time!

At November 16, 2006 11:46 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Louise,do not think for a minute that Colin Berry regrets going off.
Here is an individual of limitless cunning.Schemes are the diet of his day.
Remember he was once a professor and knows how to engage response from minnions like us.
If anyone else here is not in anticipation,then bless your socks.

At November 16, 2006 11:51 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Then stay on as Queen Louise and you will never lose your throne.

At November 17, 2006 12:00 AM, Blogger Louise said...

Yes, I think I'd prefer being the Queen than being bored - talking of Royals, Reuters annonce that Segolene has over 60% of the vote so far ... so the next French election promises to be even more boring than usual.

At November 17, 2006 9:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, Sego won, and comments were made on how stylish she looked. Well, that's what counts, n'est-ce pas?

Why do we never hear that Mr X wore a stylish blue suit? Might it be because we can SEE he is wearing a blue suit and don't need the qualification? Why, then, do we need it with Sego, or any other female politician.

If Sego gets in, I predict everything will go on as usual, because I'm not sure she either wants to stand up to the unions, or implement radical change. It's status quo time. In a stylish cream suit.

At November 17, 2006 1:24 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

Well now Sarah, what a catty little comment. Jealous? Talking about bitchy comments what about this one "Still, she looks a mess, in layers of clashing colours and unmatching materials" Now I wonder on which blog site you will find that? But if you are wanting to post a comment, don't try. La patronne has protected the site with so much knicker elastic only bubble gum comments get through.

At November 17, 2006 2:50 PM, Blogger Colin Randall said...

Robert Marchenoir has a point on more formal appointments and I should have limited - and will now limit - the observation to social events.
I may have said elsewhere that on my very first day as the Paris correspondent of The Daily Telegraph, I arrived a few minutes early for lunch with the ambassador
(no, not a one to one but for several British journalists) and was sharply sent away again by the man on the gate.

At November 17, 2006 4:07 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Colin Randall may have been early at the Ambassador's gate and as he states was sent off sharply.
Well I'm pleased to see HM's staff is quick and crisp.
The man at the gate knows his job and in the name of the Queen,delivers.
May we be delivered from the objectionable post of THURSDAY NOV 16 8:31 pm sign'd jed m.
There was no one at the gate when it arrived.Please send it off sharply.
Decorum you understand.

At November 17, 2006 4:17 PM, Blogger Colin Randall said...

Quite right. Jed spotted and ditched.
Oh dear Janefn, the ALWAYS invited Janefn. Don't tell me you are in the UK. If you are you are commanded to attend. Call me, or Kelly for details.

At November 17, 2006 5:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jealous of what Richie-babes?

Of course, you're always sweetness and light at all times to everyone.

Cut the crap, roo.

At November 17, 2006 5:35 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

Sarah what about this sweet little comment 'Maybe it's because she's as plain as a pudding, just like her daughter'
I think some big mosquitoe just bit you.

At November 17, 2006 5:42 PM, Blogger Louise said...

Richard - wrong blog - don't pick comments off Sarah's blog and post comments here - no-one will understand you otherwise (although even when pertinent it can be hard going with you).

At November 17, 2006 6:00 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

Louise You sound like M. Berry setting out blog etiquette. Are you a teacher as well? Why should the ladies get away with their nasty little comments about Ségo. I adore Ségo. And yes she does look nice. She does dress well. No doubt she goes to a great deal of effort. Why shouldn't we say it?

At November 17, 2006 6:13 PM, Blogger Louise said...

I honestly don't think I was bitchy about Sego - but she has no policies so she has a lot of work to do...
Blog etiquette - I think not ... if I hadn't read Sarah's blog today before reading your posting, it was quite senseless - just helping you along Richard, that's all. Out of the kindness of my heart.
And you know I'm not a teacher - I keep goats, remember?

At November 17, 2006 11:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Richie, I'm not talking about Sego on my blog. Hadn't you understood that?

Are you trying to tell me what I should or shouldn't blog about? That's rich (geddit?!) coming from you.

At November 17, 2006 11:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, anyone can post on my blog. What are you talking about? I put in a letter recognition to keep out spam. If you can't manage that, then that's just tough.

At November 17, 2006 11:42 PM, Blogger Halcyon said...

Wow, I've been mentioned on the blog. Looks like I'm moving up in the world!

Ref: the charming American lady who was cursed at during the mobile phone conversation.

Unless there are other charming Americans you call and curse at!

At November 19, 2006 11:09 PM, Anonymous Xavier Kreiss said...

Love it! As a Frenchman living in London, I always find your "mirror image" remarks fascinating.

But let's disagree a bit: On restaurants, of course. Paris, although (to your colleague) " the City of A Thousand Bad Restaurants", is also the " the City of much more than a Thousand Good and Reasonably Priced Restaurants".

A challenge: find more than three or four cheap, cheerful and good restaurants in London serving English food. Apart from pubs, of course, even though chicken tikka is fast replacing steak and kidney pie.

Your "search for a good Indian restaurant" in Paris was doomed to failure. A pity. But surely some opportunities here for enterprising British Asians?

As for arriving late at parties, you're absolutely right, of course. That way, we can be sure that the wine has had time to breathe.


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