Why I love France

There are endless reasons why I like France like no other country in which I have lived and worked. My wife is certainly high on the list. But in truth it is a spirit a love an emotion. Let me simply recount an incident that I will never forget and which encapsulates a lot about the country.

I was in a meeting on economic development of the Loiret. Many top people were there. The prefet, the mayor, senior offices from the army base, senior business people etc. etc.

A woman stood up and completely off subject she ranted about the way her boss had treated her and how she had received no redress from the employment tribunal. She was quite upset. She was a simple person who used very simple French. She went on for quite a long while. I expected somebody to ask her to be quiet, nobody did. She completed what she had to say. She sat down. She received a polite round of applause. The Prefet who was presiding the meeting said he thanked the lady for her contribution and asked his assistant to contact the lady for her name and address so he could assist her. The meeting moved on.
Call it savoir vivre, tolerance, sympathy, human decency or what you will.

33 thoughts on “Why I love France”

  1. There are some places that one feels an affinity to. The reasons may be different for different people – I felt like that when I landed in Darwin, 23 years ago. It was a feeling that at last I could be ‘me’.

  2. Hi, MoO

    I too love France. One of my favourite memories is a visit to Victor Hugo’s house in Place des Vosges about thirty years.

    There was a chair in one of the rooms clearly marked as reserved for invalids and those wounded in war. An apparently fit young male plonked himself down on it while his wife and children toured the exhibits in the room.

    In Britain, the attendant might have wandered over and had a quiet word in his ear or even ignored the matter for a minute or two in the hope that the lout might move on without being prompted.

    The lady attendant in Paris hurled herself across the room and launched into a superb tirade of abuse which appeared to call into very detailed and highly descriptive doubt the man’s ancestry, sense of honour, patriotism and very manhood. All of this at the top of her voice and sustained for about three minutes without appearing to draw breath. People were rushing in from all sides and hanging on her every word. She received a prolonged round of applause as the man slunk shamefacedly from the room, accompanied by his wife who was bright red with embarrassment and appeared to be making a few observations of her own about his conduct as they hurried out of the exit. For the avoidance of doubt, he was a Francophone and I don’t think he was any sort of AS.

    Aye, I really do love France myself and can see and respect where you are coming from. Does not follow that it is necessary, in my opinion, to continually twist posts and comments to denigrate the British and I can also see why Bearsy might find that tiresome and actionable on his site.

    Whatever. I personally have enjoyed the majority your posts and most of your comments and am sorry to see you being escorted to the exit. So it’s au revoir (hopefully) et bonne chance from me.

  3. MoO: yes, I find your antagonism to all things British tiresome, but I’m sorry to see you go and I think your contributions here, for the most part, have been interesting.

  4. Well it has been my way of pointing out that on subjects such as ‘light touch regulation’, ‘financial services’, ‘free markets’, ‘free speech’, ‘fair play’, EU regulation, the British Empire and many other areas too your opinions are often not terribly well respected beyond your borders and give you what a somewhat franco french true believer would have as an opinion. Incidentally I hold those opinions to a substantial degree also. Finally if those opinions are ‘racist’ then an awful lot of people in France who share those opinions , to a less or greater degree, are racist too. But I think not.

  5. I never cared for France that much, seems a very smelly place, someone needs to fix the drains.
    The claret is another matter……

  6. CO
    It probably depends in which type of doss house you stay in. Try the George 5 or Intercontinental.
    On my recent holiday we stayed in some excellent B & B ‘s which had recently been completely refurbished and cost 70 euros for the bed and an excellent breakfast. There was just one dud which wasn’t smelly but not very clean either.

  7. Not so much the properties, the general smell outside in the towns. The last time I was there was in Lille on business, knock you down stench, gagging territory, couldn’t get out quick enough!
    PC precludes me from airing who/what caused it!
    It is all very well citing picaresque holiday locations what are the real everyday places where people have to live and work like?
    In a word, grim! Just like most of England.

  8. Your problem, madoforleans, is that you don’t provide a French opinion. You provide what you want people to believe is the opinion of French people. Those of us who live in France and have a role in the local community or read French newspapers know the facts. But you don’t like facts, because they usually contradict your own twisted, anti-British ideas.

  9. Sheona I believe you spend a small portion of the year in Antibes, not exactly the most French part of France.
    CO french cities are obviously cleaner and better maintained than English cites.

  10. Well Sheona this comes from the french press you apparently read. Now what do think is the opinion of our French minister of finance on the three anglo saxon rating agencies?

    “Les agences de notation, chargĂ©es d’Ă©valuer la soliditĂ© financière d’un État ou d’une entreprise, ne cessent d’ĂŞtre pointĂ©es du doigt depuis le dĂ©clenchement de la crise grecque et des soubresauts des marchĂ©s boursiers europĂ©ens. Après le FMI, l’ÉlysĂ©e ou encore la Commission europĂ©enne, Christine Lagarde s’est Ă  son tour prononcĂ©e lundi. La ministre de l’Économie a affirmĂ© sur Europe 1 qu’il fallait “contrĂ´ler plus” les agences de notation, dont le rĂ´le est mis en cause dans la crise grecque, et “s’assurer qu’elles respectent les règles”. “On ne dĂ©grade pas un pays dans les conditions oĂą sa notation a Ă©tĂ© dĂ©gradĂ©e, c’est-Ă -dire quinze minutes avant la clĂ´ture (des marchĂ©s, ndlr) pour prĂ©cipiter des achats ou des ventes”, a reprochĂ© la ministre française.

    Le rĂ´le des trois grandes agences de notation, Standard & Poor’s (SP), Moody’s et Fitch, est l’objet d’une vive polĂ©mique alors que la dĂ©gradation des notes de la Grèce ou de l’Espagne a contribuĂ© Ă  faire plonger les marchĂ©s financiers ces derniers jours. “Je vais publier dans les tout prochains jours des documents suffisants pour autoriser l’AutoritĂ© des marchĂ©s financiers, qui est une espèce de gendarme de la Bourse, Ă  contrĂ´ler les agences de notation et Ă  vĂ©rifier en particulier qu’elles respectent des règles dĂ©ontologiques”, a annoncĂ© Christine Lagarde. “

  11. Can you define what is “the most French part of France”? The local French people – les Antibois – would not be impressed by your stupidity. You have no idea how much or how little time I spend anywhere. Just twist some facts again.

    Christina, you are absolutely right. Many French cities do not smell good at all. When we travel outside France, we generally notice the much cleaner condition of the streets. The nose is not assailed by these rank aromas.

  12. Sheona it is generally recognised that the Centre is the most French part of France. The CĂ´te d’Azur full of tourists and foreigners is hardly France at all.

  13. sheona why don’t they do something about it?
    I’ve always avoided the place like the plague, done the business and headed for the German border as fast as possible! The thought of having to go to a supermarket or food shop in a town stinking of sewage is quite disgusting. I never could quite understand why everyone always raved about the place. A lot of Mediterranean Europe is a damned sight cleaner and less smelly and yet they have hotter climates.
    All a bit of a moot point these days as I have avoided Europe totally for years, I am always ill there, with the notable exceptions of Germany and Holland, so I’ve stopped going. All I ever saw was the inside of hotel bathrooms!

  14. Well look I am not going to finish my last day on DNMYT with this sort of discussion. There is no doubt where the rudeness and xenophobic behaviour is coming from, not from this side of the Channel.

  15. Moo, had you found this site important to you, you should have minded your manners in the first place!
    But no, same old same old!
    You only have yourself to blame.

  16. CO absolutely not it has nothing to do with manners, I am being picked on because I don’t share the consensual opinions. Look where MYT has got to there is not one supporter of the EU the euro, ethnic diversity left. Indded I think every non Brit has now been ejected. There was an amusing blog on Greece today where all the righwinger europhobes spent 30 comments repeating themselves. What IQ coefficient do you need to join the band I wonder.

  17. You chose to make consistently offensive remarks about the UK and bloggers. You could have held your opinions without the personal invective, you chose not to!
    You have never actually pissed me off big time but then I don’t think too much of the UK either, but do not put it in your terms! (Of course Wales is another matter!)
    Plus you never redeemed your invective with wit, it would have helped!
    Have you been chucked off of MyT too?

  18. PS, I don’t think too much of virtually everything! I just try to pass by on the other side, retains the stomach lining and a sense of proportion.
    Why do you think I garden so manically? As an antidote to most of the world!
    Try it some time!

  19. Comment #13 @ 5.01pm. And your point is…? This is the opinion of the French Finance Minister on credit rating agencies. Fair enough. What are you trying to prove? It’s not just the IQ you lack but the veracity one too. Did you read the comments on Le Figaro’s article on the Greek problem yesterday? But I suppose they didn’t come from “the French part of France”.

  20. #16 @5.18pm. Christina, it is very odd that the French grumble a lot, as they themselves admit, but rarely actually do anything. I, on the other hand, am giving to writing letters of complaint, which frequently scares the pants off them. Many of the larger companies simply ignore such letters or send a stock response which does not address the problem, but smaller businesses do respond. I think that leaders such as de Gaulle have been so blinded by “la gloire de la France” that they don’t see the filthy streets. Many mayors of cities or large towns are also Members of Parliament and therefore spend little time in the actual streets.

    My husband remembers seeing a quotation to the effect that France is the only country to have made a success of communism – but only for a given value of “success” obviously.

  21. There has been practically no personal invective towards bloggers, I called Sheona thick once.
    I have attacked the US and the UK financial services policies which I consider a disgrace and dishonest exploitation. The US has finally charged Goldman Sachs with fraud. The previous treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, was a president of the bank. The US banks all had set ups in the UK which permitted them to skirt round US legislation. The rating agencies were up their necks in the fraud and they have continued their practices recently with the downgrading of greek and Spanish debt at a critical time no doubt to make profits for client banks.Hence the outrage of our finance minister who came as close as you can in reasonably diplomatic language to calling them cheats. As did the Greek prime minister.
    No that is not invective just perfectly justified outrage.

  22. Actually I think the biggest losers in the US/UK headlong dive into financial services are the UK and US people. It was a policy to satisfy the rich and powerful and destroyed the jobs of Jo six pack. How much did the average American gain by the loss of millions of good paying jobs in Detroit substituted by a few thousand obscenely high salaries on Wall Street. The Thatcher Big Bang revolution is feted in the UK because it brought the high bonuses for the few on Canary wharf and did absolutely nothing for Joe Blog.
    Which is another reason why I love France, we slogged on making unfashionable cars and trains because we knew it was the best thing for the majority of the people.Besides how much job satisafaction do you really get from speculating on other people’s livelihhoods. And now we are in a far better position than you are.Justice.

  23. I think your attitude to your adoptive county is admirable, MoO. I much prefer it to the whining ex-pat mode, which some adopt. But we all have our different opinions, and I could never forget I am English to the core, which probably rightly or wrongly gives me more right to criticise, but nevertheless, I wish you well.

  24. “Many mayors of cities or large towns are also Members of Parliament and therefore spend little time in the actual streets.”
    Just showing your knowledge of France is zilch. They are more likely to ignore parliament than their cities. Antibes may be filthy due to the expats but Orléans is impecable.

  25. Araminta it is diffent if you spend almost all your life in a country and your family is of that country.

  26. Haven’t you gone yet, madoforleans? “Antibes may be filthy due to the expats” – how to win friends and influence people. Parhaps Orleans’ mayor, Serge Grouard, isn’t as important in government circles as the mayor of Antibes and doesn’t need to spend as much time representing his constituents in parliament.

  27. I’ve replied Claire: I am really worried, I suspect someone is playing games. I have changed my email password just in case, but I’ve suggested you contact some others in my latest email, and they will confirm what I say.

  28. “how to win friends and influence people” you think I want to win friends amongst expats? No I’m better off defending the mayors who do a good job.
    Serge Grouard is a friend of Chirac and was at one time accused of being a parachutĂ© from Paris. But he has done a good job for OrlĂ©ans, it is cleaner than ever and I often see him in OrlĂ©ans. I know my own mayor here in Olivet personally and you can meet him all the time in the streets. The town for me is too clean and shiny, I’d rather they cut taxes.

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