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

December 04, 2006

Adieu to the rue de Rivoli

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Only three weeks to go so we invited the concierge and his wife to our farewell to Paris party. They couldn't make it, though the crown princess who will one day rule as Queen Victoria came instead.

But that's being extravagant with the truth.

The lovely Princess Victoria of Sweden was indeed in our building on the rue de Rivoli, the Daily Telegraph office-cum-apartment that has been our home, shared with a procession of colleagues from London, for two-and-a-half years.

But the nearest she came to attending my shindig was when she bowled over to my wife at the bottom of the lift shaft, assuming her to be part of the Parisian Swedish Circle's welcoming party.

We'd agreed to take it in turns to make sure guests to each function were ushered to the right one.

As it happens, and despite the fact that we were able to secure the presence of not only two ambassadors but the charming and witty Petite Anglaise (leading me to speculate that this must surely outrank one Scandinavian princess), it was not too difficult to make the distinction.

None of those attending our party wore formal evening dress. And, as a mark of the leaner times upon which their hosts had fallen, our guests were mostly carrying bottles or titbits of food, or both.

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"Il y a un petit problème," the concierge had said when I asked him to join us and our friends and colleagues for Saturday's modest soirée to mark the end of two eras - mine as a Telegraph journalist and the Telegraph's (rather longer) presence in two of Paris's most chic arrondissements, the 1st and the 8th.

The Swedes had their royal reception, the concierge added in worried tones, and the strict security measures included the stipulation No Press.

Luckily, our neighbours saw the funny side of one minor snag: the majority of our people were indeed likely to be press. In the end, the building somehow accommodated all their guests and all of ours. The sifting process at the lift worked a treat.

To the horror of one or two French friends, we'd promised only a "light buffet" and the more sensible guests dined out before arriving. But the light buffet stretched an awful long way and I fear I shall be eating the remains - cheese, crisps and charcuterie - until we leave for the Var immediately after Christmas.

Living at the office has been a far from ideal arrangement.

But when you peer out from the living room, directly opposite the Tuileries, you get as good a view as you'll find in most parts of Paris.

It runs from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower and takes in all the landmarks in between, and we have been fortunate - despite those benign invasions of our privacy from London - to experience it.

Successive Telegraph correspondents, dating from before the Second World War, have had similar luck, being based in a series of imposing offices in the 1st and 8th arrondissements. Soon, for us, it is to be adieu to the rue de Rivoli, au revoir to Paris.

Among regrets, one sticks out. Why didn't I put more pressure on the mayor of the 14th arrondissement to order the demolition of the Tour Montparnasse, the one ghastly blot on the landscape as seen from our room with a view*.

* Captured here, in photos two and three, by one Bill Taylor, who may have a flawed outlook on penal matters but knows a bit about photography. The first is mine and the last, a family snap taken by me on Tour de France finale day, shows how thin you'd need to be to dine on the balcony.

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At December 04, 2006 8:11 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

Colin Surely what is missing from your 'flashes of France' is the extraordinary beauty of the country. You have fallen in love with the views from your office. Everytime I turn, at night, into the Champs Elysées from Place de la Concorde my heart stops. So it does when I cross the Loire at Orléans. Or walk in the Auvergne. Or ski at the foothills of Mont Blanc. Look across at the Pyrenees from Pau.Drive in the Corsican hills. Sail offf the Brittany coast.Once you have experienced that on a daily basis it is difficult to take second best, let alone third, fourth, fifth or sixth.

At December 04, 2006 8:24 PM, Blogger Colin Randall said...

Suppose I took the extraordinary beauty for granted in my flashes of France, though I think I have mentioned it often enough in other postings.

At December 04, 2006 10:41 PM, Anonymous SH said...

Found an interesting passage in a French novel over the weekend. The translation roughly is:

In spite of all the faults of the French, their vanity, their casualness, their desire for pleasure, their refusal to admire anything that does not come from France, the pettiness of their ambitions compared to their appetite for glory and renown, their propensity to criticise... it is a gifted nation without which America would not be what it is today.

The writer, Maurice Denuzière, left journalism after a career of 30 years to write books. Am I giving ideas to anyone reading? I imagine that writing harsh truths about the French is not obligatory.
But it is entertaining to think that every time the French criticise the Americans, they may in fact be criticising themselves to some extent. I think Chirac has done a specially good job on the "pettiness" front. Which presidential candidate could keep it up?

At December 05, 2006 1:54 AM, Blogger watchar said...

What happens in the Var?
And what will the view be?

At December 05, 2006 11:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is happening to the Paris office now? If there is no correspondant, will they shut it down?

At December 05, 2006 11:34 AM, Blogger Colin Randall said...

It's hardly for me to say, so this is not any kind of official response to Sarah, but while the Paris office is closing, France will continue to be covered. As I understand it, the plan is for a Europe Editor based in Paris, backed by the usual arrangement of a "stringer" looking after the patch when he/she is elsewhere in Europe.

At December 05, 2006 6:10 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

The picture doesn't do justice to the view at all. And who are those people?

At December 05, 2006 6:31 PM, Blogger Colin Randall said...

Send me one of yours, Bill. My camera is on the blink and the pic of nephew, his girlfriend and Joelle is the only one I have uploaded on to the computer.

At December 05, 2006 7:05 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

I'll e-mail a couple tonight.

At December 06, 2006 2:31 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

That's very cool -- you click on the pictures and they come up full-screen. Clever things, these blogs.

At December 06, 2006 10:04 PM, Blogger Halcyon said...

I am sorry that I couldn't make it to the party. It sounds like it was a grand affair.

Thanks for posting the pictures though. It was a really lovely place with a spectacular view. I'm sure you and the Telegraph kitty will miss it.


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