Deux Mille Treize


Early start
Car packed out
Road hit squarely
Awake barely
Channel tunnel
Bridges and viaducts
Coffee machines and petrol stops
A1 French roads
Reduce down to
Salt pans and mussels
Over water
Paradise lost
Paradise found
Dream campsite
Canvas, clams and camp loos
Washing up and hammocks
Sun, sea and cycling
Then en route encore
To sunflowers and cooling towers,
Overnight stop in
Rural splendour, with mozzies and Aussie
Toulouse trek
Arizona valley
The long and winding road
Swimming pool, shutters and searing sun
Pain, cheese and ham
Bendy roads and supermarkets
Barbecues and rosé
Hot and bitten, but not bothered
Splashing and laughing
Pink, then pinker then browned
Before lassitude and food fatigue set in
Le depárt
Massif drive and sick bags full to
Paris, pool and parking
Kir, Cupole and walking
Metro, dodo
Tour Eiffel and boat trip
Montmartre then long marche
Auchan, duck and Chunnel
“I spy something beginning with…”
Blighty, black clouds, driving rain
Before Home, sweet same old Home
Triumph, acclaim, then bedtime
A fine vintage
Deux Mille Treize

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.