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The Mass Culture Experience

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This is the queue outside the Palace of Versailles today, July 30. About one kilometre long, should it be unwrapped from the court of the Palace. I counted 12 coaches outside, too. Versailles is a mass experience. Is this a bad thing? People barging through the Hall of Mirrors, tripping over the ropes that cordon off the Royal Bed of Louis XIV, taking photos by the door through which Marie Antoinette fled with the young Dauphin when the Revolutionary mob were baying at the gates. Read More…

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All the time in Paris

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I took this picture standing behind the giant clock face at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris looking over the Seine towards the Louvre, the Opera and Montmartre. Read More…

Losing my head in Paris

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This is Lucien and me on the Paris Roule, otherwise known as Paris Copying London. I’m not mad on the London Eye, and I’m not mad on this one either. Read More…

The Empire of the Dead

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The French are very clever. First, they went a bomb on Catholicism, inventing theGothic cathedral and enshrining the dead therein. Several hundred years later, they became disillusioned with that idea as Romanticism took over. A sizeable minority got fed up with church and religion, and decided to venerate Death as simply the end of Life (and thereby excusing themselves to enjoy Life to the fullest).

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Why Paris just looks better

I know Le Monde has just described it as ‘Un musee/ville’, which is hardly complimentary, but where else can you run up the main boulevard BEFORE DAWN and find uniformed road men sweeping and washing the pavement, as I did up the Champs Elysees last week? Compared to the rabbit’s hutch that is Oxford Street, the centre of Paris just makes London look hideous, dirty and naff by contrast.  Giant Tricoleurs everywhere, looking stylish, not hideously nationalistic, plus style, delicious food, need I go on? Read More…

Back in London

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So, we’re back, and now people say things like “We thought you were to be gone for at least 6 months. Why are you back so early?”, and suddenly the giant epic journey begins to shrink before my eyes, as if I had eaten one of Alice’s little cakes. Read More…

Homeward bound much to delight of some

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With only three more days to go, no-one can talk of anything else. When are we going to be home, and what we are going to do when we get there? I have already done an online shop at Sainsbury’s, timed perfectly to arrive within about two hours of us touching down at Heathrow. Cheerios, Marmite, Anchor ‘spready’ butter, Cheddar cheese, Darjeeling tea have all been ordered. And – with not a little nostalgia – a box of croissants. Interesting what you miss the most. Read More…

The Elephant in the Room

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Well, the provocation behind the French Empire is les rosbifs, of course. Or at least, our langauge. Because English is so dominant it has made the French absolutely positive that it must hang onto its overseas domains, no matter how many billions of euros they costevery year or how useless they are, in economic terms.

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Any more arguments and the turtle gets it

So, how to entertain four children while going around the Francophone world looking at the sights? Read More…

L’Empire Strikes Back

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Its official. The French are jolly happy to have their empire across the world. Alright, it may cost them several billion euros every year, and brings in practically zero in return (bar some fantastic honeymoon locations, and a  rather nice heap of nickel from New Caledonia), but think of the glory of it all. Read More…