France is great, but let's no focus to strongly on all the positives......
eyelids look heavy as I survey the subdued faces, I've taken everyone through the itinerary, given as much insight into traveling Europe as is feasible given the zombie state of the group. We arrive in Dover, welcomed by the chalky white cliffs topped by the mighty Dover castle, the sun is shimmering off the water as the ferry's billow smoke into the sky.
we board the boat on our chariot and I can see faces of concentration as I go through the procedures for the ferry crossing, everyone seems to be thinking really hard about not needing to pee, with the rapidity kentucky derby race commentator, I tell everyone when to be back at the bus, and am sure to remind them, that if they aren't back on the bus when we drive off it, they should meet us in Paris.
France is amazing, if you really want to annoy a Frenchy, tell them that following the 100 years war, the French should have occupied what is now England the the Brits should have aquired Gaul! It is so varied and diverse in it's geographical makeup, The French alps and the Cote D azzur provide a suitable contrast while Paris, Lourdes, Lyon and Avignon enjoy legendary culture status with the the role played by each city in respect of religion, warfare or societal changes that have affected the course of history.
French people are often labelled ignorant or arrogant, this can be particularly true of Parisians. Paris is the most popular tourist destination in the world, with over 27 million people visiting the city each year, 60 percent of which are coming from outside of France. The urban population is around 2 million, meaning that, at any one time during the year, the inner city population is doubled by tourists, most of them not speaking French, This is why many local's in popular tourist destinations around Europe have a short fuse when dealing with visitors.
In my humble experience, I have found the Parisians to be quite accommodating, provided you are prepared to speak with a bit of an accent and try a few french words, you should find yourself endearing yourselves to the locals, if you can't speak French, you should act like you do. The french have given us many things including food based idiom and many other colloquialisms, I've heard the French often remark of their love for English seeing as so much of it is indeed French.
They love their food and wine and have a great way of going about their social agenda's without being thrown in to a plethora of denigrating socio economic statistics. Dispite their reputation for indulgent cooking, and their penchant for wine consumption, they fair a lot better than the UK in binge drinking and obesity as well as alcohol related crime. A redeeming feature I certainly admire of the French is their capacity for moderation.
It is true that they are very fashionable, fashion designers like Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton are all found in snooty department stores worldwide and each with their headquarters in Paris. For some reason, Parisian women love to wear black and not much else, have incredibly proportionate and elegant bone structure but try and ask a pleasant looking women for the time off her visible wrist watch and she will look at you like you just insulted her late mother.
My passengers would often ask me if we needed to speak French to get by in Paris, I would tell them that it is the most popular place in the world for foreign tourists and that the locals have adapted to accommodate the many visitors. I was often met by the same passengers at the end of the day carrying shopping bags full of loot donning wearisome expressions that suggested my description of French helpfulness had been somewhat inaccurate.
The French language is very delicate, there are institutions in place to make sure it remains free from transliterate laziness and adheres to the grammatical statutes of old. I find the language over bearing at times, although mellifluous, it seems like the type of language that would have been spoken by Narcissus himself, it all sounds so utterly vainglorious at times.
The concomitants of this ego driven articulation together with conquests and colonies enjoyed by Frances many great leaders, spawned the very nature of the French in their impossibly proud nature. It isn't as if we're inferior, we're just not French.