In sunny St Pierre et Miquelon where even the milk is imported from 4000 miles away
Here we are, then, visiting our first of the French overseas empire. And what do you know – it’s very French. By that I mean rude hotel staff, toilets which are broken and croissants which are utterly delicious. We are all staying, that is the children, Mr Millard, and myself, in a single room which is part of a Butlins-style motel. Well and good, except for last night. “What’s this floating in the loo, Maman?” questioned Gabriel, 9. On inspection it proved to be the contents of the entire St Pierre sewer, complete with lumps of chewing gum. Delightful. “Toilets break sometimes,” was the pragmatic response from Madame le hotel patron when a complaint was made this morning, along with a Gallic shrug of the shoulders. Bien sur, on est dans la France ici.
Even the cartons of milk are festooned with Eiffel Towers. Well, its come all the way from the mother country. Probably the most moving thing I saw today, on the windswept and craggy hills of St Pierre, this tiny island in the Atlantic, were two vast satellite dishes. Pointing at Paris. So the inhabitants of this island can watch proper French television. Forget Canada, only 11 km away. It’s la belle France they care about.