Sacre Bleu

A splendid weekend en famille à Paris was marred only by two extraordinarily slooowly served meals. I’d write Zzzzz. But with four children, from 4 to 8 years old, over an hour of waiting – each time – for any food was more @!&£.

I was less bothered than the people I was with. Perhaps because having lived in Paris, I find surly service strangely reassuring. As a Parisien taxi driver told me on my last visit:

God, he is deciding to make a very beautiful country. He is making it very big and putting beautiful countryside and animals in it. He is giving it very good food and very good drink. But then he is realising every-body will want to live here. Merde. So he has an ideé! He puts French people there, so nobody else will want to stay!

In fact once you get the hang of French ‘pipple’ they are quite straightforward. First contact is often brusque – borderline rude – to a British taste (or Australian since we were with Aussies). But give as good as you get and add a bit of humour and you’re ‘best mates’ in no time. It’s as if there’s a threshold of rudeness, which you have to meet, to join ‘Le club français’. Too polite and you’re not worth the bother.

An inscription on the pillared back of Versailles shouts out in capital letters ‘To all the glories of France’. You can’t beat Paris: the Tour Eiffel, the Champs Élysées, crazy driving, le hot dog, le steak frites et le petit café to finish.

Add to that the people. Splendidly rude. But often warm, once the ‘first joust’ is done. It wouldn’t be la belle France without them.

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