Vive la France!
Thank you for coming back…
What can one say in the light of recent events? As I type, politicians and ordinary people throughout Europe are mourning, praying, and trying to make sense of the Paris attacks. They say we are at war, but I wonder if this is playing to the terrorists’ script. They undoubtedly want to believe they are at war, and a holy war at that. Ordinary people may disagree.
I have no wisdom to offer.
But I wanted to celebrate and express gratitude for all things French. In particular:
- Brie and other soft cheeses.
- The way learning French forces British children to discover entertaining strange sounds that don’t exist in English.
- French history – so inextricably tied up with ours, and almost complementary to it, and fascinating in itself.
- The inspiration of French history to authors of other nationalities, such as Dickens (“The Tale of Two Cities” and “Little Dorrit”), Baroness Orczy (“The Scarlet Pimpernel”) and Patrick O’Brien (the Aubrey/Maturin series, set during the Napoleonic wars).
- The concept of “chic”.
- Great works of literature that I have not read, by Marcel Proust, Gustave Flaubert, Moliere, Victor Hugo etc.
- Asterix the Gaul. And Babar the Elephant.
- A long line of entertaining and charming tennis players.
- The countryside of Provence.
- The hymn “Thine be the glory” (“A Toi la gloire”)
- The daring of their political thought over the centuries. (Too many guillotines, but even so…)
- Joie de vivre.
- The Left Bank.
- “We’ll always have Paris…” Surely the world’s most romantic city. Its only rival can be Rome.
- Excellent untranslatable phrases, like “bon appetite”, “au revoir”, and “zut alors!”
- “Les Miserables”.
- And “Amelie”.
- Cinderella’s glass slipper.
- Medicins sans Frontieres.
- Their legendary laissez-faire that gives the stuffy, stiff-upper-lip British something to react against.
- Joan of Arc.
- “I detest what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” (Attributed to Voltaire. Not actually by him, but later quoted as summing up his attitude.)
Compiling this list makes me conscious of my own ignorance and insularity, of how little I know of the greatness and achievements of even our closest neighbour.
What else that is French can people rejoice in, to add to this meagre list? Please add any ideas!
A Partial, Prejudiced and Ignorant Blogger