I wrote a rather withering post about my trip to Paris recently. One might almost think I have a dislike for the French, or at least a mild degree of contempt. Not true. I like French people, and generally speaking, I would (and have) chose to travel with a Frenchie over a Brit any day. Sure, I enjoy playing up to stereotypes sometimes. I don’t see why any conversation with a Frenchie shouldn’t begin with Waterloo or Trafalgar. We’ve waged a thousand years worth of war against each other, which generally resulted in the English/British Fleet sinking the French fleet.
Although the truth is, for all the rivalry and insults, when we join together we can produce the most incredible results – Concorde and the Channel Tunnel spring straight to mind. Unless we join together to wage war against a third party, in which case the British fleet still sinks the French fleet as a warm up, before rescuing our European cousins later on in the proceedings. But I digress and should return to my point.
There’s lots about the French to admire. Plenty of which we Brits would do well to learn from. Their culture, passion, lifestyle and sophistication. The ladies go for the elegant look, rather than the British slutty look. Which I find preferable. The French do chic and trendy rather than brash and flash. And whilst you can find modern stuff just as you would in any major city, their culture is far less disposable, and much more inclined to favour something traditional or hand crafted.
The French aren’t quite into ‘mend and make do’ as Mexicans are, but there are plenty of little shops where you can get clothes mended. In the UK, perfectly good clothing would just get dumped and replaced. There are still some great food markets around as well, although I would give the Marche des Enfants Rouge a miss. It might be the oldest one, but it was frankly rubbish. There are plenty of antique and hand crafted furniture shops too, which we again seem to have lost in England. Here we make do with Ikea, although I did recently stumble across a pretty nice range of French furniture at the Furniture Market that I found online.
The French do quirky too, and I like quirky. I often berate French cars for their blandness and lack of reliability. That is criticism that is largely justified. But it wasn’t always so. At least, as far as blandness it wasn’t. Citroen was once a magnificent marque – we had a giant Familiale to carry the family about when I was a kid. They were innovative and sleek. Ahead of their time. Terribly unreliable too, but still….they had that little bit of je ne sais pas quoi. I was delighted to find a multi floor Citroen ‘museum’ near the Arc de Triomphe, which housed some concourse quality classics, including the Presidential limousine. It was one of my Paris highlights. Click here for the photos on Flickr.