Thursday, 17 September 2009

RIP Keith Floyd

Apologies for radio silence of late – let's just put it down to "technical issues"!

Anyway, things continue apace in the Francophile world. We're just finishing the latest issue of French Magazine, on sale 3rd October. It comes with a free 64-page copy of The Traveller in France, so offers top value. Features include La Rochelle, Pays Basque, a look around the lovely Languedoc home of Josephine Ryan (antiques expert and author) as well as some great recipes from Michael Caines and Michel Roux Jr – who can currently be seen picking the bones out of pro cooks' efforts on Masterchef: The Professionals.

It was very sad to hear of the death of Keith Floyd this week. I grew up watching this guy romp around Britain and the world, having a booze-up on camera and looking like he was having a great time. He was a West Country lad like me and attended the same school, so I always felt some kind of affinity for him, just because he was "one of us". I interviewed him in France once by phone – he was a committed Francophile and spent a lot of his time there. When I rang him, half of his village was being washed away by some kind of flood or mudslide but he was still charming and funny. The "C'est la vie" attitude sat with him very well.

A couple of years back we were looking at doing a special issue of French with a guest editor. Our first choice was Keith Floyd, of course, so we contacted his agent – but never heard back. What a laugh that would have been.

Since his death, every TV chef with a decent PR has clamoured to offer a soundbite extolling Floyd's culinary and broadcasting virtues but as far as I can tell, few of them offered him shared screen time in recent years. I suspect that's because he was far more charismatic and compelling than any of them.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Jolie Petite Histoire

Back from a few days in Dordogneshire – or Bergerac-on-Avon if you wish, during which I dined excessively on confit duck as usual and sampled a lovely 2004 Montbazillac in situ that would have set off a choccie pud just lovely. I also pretended not to be English in Issigeac on market day (a tall order). I achieved this by having the audacity to speak in French to some of the market stall holders. For this shameless affront to local sensibilities, I was hounded out of town by the mayor, a retired bricklayer from Knutsford. OK, this bit isn't true.

I can report that the airport at Bergerac is much improved, though quite why the good people of Ryanair insist on herding you into a facilities-free departure lounge about twenty minutes before the check-in even closes is a mystery that surely only Mr O'Leary could fathom. I look forward to the day that customers, not luggage, come along the baggage carousel after being stowed in the hold. Still, if you want a £5 flight, deal with it.

A lowlight on an otherwise very relaxing jolly was acquiring as many mosquito bites – some in places that even the great Michel Thomas would have been unwilling to teach me the French for – as in my previous 36 years put together. Those greedy French mossies have either immaculate taste or none whatsoever.

Driving around the vine-striped hills and vales of this lovely part of France with the radio on, a tune caught my ear amongst the usual dross of Fun Radio. The only words I could remember when I got home were Jolie Petite Histoire – and I had no group name or song title. But hark and watch, I found it on Youtube - it's a live version of the 1983 smash Cendrillon (meaning Cinderella) by Téléphone.

It sounds like a soppy ode to finding Prince Charming but is probably dripping with angst and irony. I can't tell – I struggle with French irony in the way that Alanis Morrissette struggles with irony in her native tongue. Anyway, it's a tune that, if it had been written and sung by an English or American group, would probably now be held in the same nostalgic esteem as Cheap Trick's I Want You to Want Me or Another Girl, Another Planet by The Only Ones, both of which I believe it resembles.

If anyone French is reading this, please can they tell me what Téléphone meant/mean to French people? I know nothing about the group.

Power pop with a beret on, smashing:

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Level playing field

An email about disabled access in France arrived this week. If anyone has any tips for Pat, please either drop me an email or leave a comment on this blog. Many thanks.

Here it is in full:

We look forward very much to our twice yearly visits to France and have for many years considered buying our own property, but other commitments have somehow got in the way!
We are a couple with an adult disabled son, and have for the past 12 years taken our holidays in an apart/hotel in Evian on Lake Geneva, however it is now necessary that we have specially adapted accommodation - 2 bedrooms with w/chair accessible bathroom and level access throughout. Because of our love for the region I have spent much time e-mailing tourist info sites to find that no specific literature for disabled accommodation exists - is this situation general in France as whole?
Surely we are not the only family to be confronted by this problem, therefore my question is: Is it possible your readers know of, or provide such accommodation, or, has the time come when we have to build from scratch to our own specifications? Have any of your readers done precisely that and are there any obstacles to watch out for?
We are not particularly looking in the Lake Geneva area but we do need to be in a town with level walks (preferably waterside) to shops, market, bars, cafes, etc. within a days drive of Calais.

Pat Powell, Devon

Sunday, 31 May 2009

10 things I learned in Nice

1. 4.40 euros gets you two white peaches. Juicy, pricy.

2. It's naive to think you can visit inside the fabulously grand Russian Church on a Sunday morning.

3. The iconic Thérèse, who runs the socca stall in the Cours Saleya market is one-part cook, three-parts crowd pleaser.

4. Men's mainstream fashion = tight, garish and a tad camp.

5. You can nick some sneaky wi-fi access in your hotel if you're lucky.

6. Don't be afraid of its grandeur, the Negresco hotel's bar is accessible to all.

7. The salades niçoises served in Nice's many open-air restaurants range from the delicious to the insultingly basic (no olives, limp lettuce – 11.50 euros, thanks for asking).

8. Everything is walkable, except the Matisse Museum. Get the bus.

9. Said museum is pretty, but pretty insubstantial. But it is free, unlike the Marc Chagall Museum.

10. For a sunshine weekend break, Nice can hardly be beaten.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

New French Magazine!

Salut tout le monde! We've just sent the latest issue of French to print – it's out next Thursday, 4th June, so be sure to order your copy or even subscribe (call 0117 9323 586). It's looking particularly gorgeous after a pre-summer spruce up.

New subscribers this issue will receive a cracking double DVD pack of James Martin's Brittany. In it, the likeable Saturday Kitchen chef heads off on a cook's tour of the Brittany region with culinary mates like The Hairy Bikers and Martin Blunos, picking up market produce and doing a bit of stovetop cooking, as well as dropping in on local cheese and beer producers, that kind of thing. I've seen the whole series and can strongly recommend it for a lovely armchair taste of France.

The issue has loads of good things in it - from watersports in the Champagne lakes (not literally, clearly) to Golf in Brittany, plus two stories of a dream life in Provence. Add to this the usual recipes and food news, reader comps, cultural reviews and property advice and it's the perfect read for the summer.

Next I begin work on the next issue of The Traveller in France, then crack on with French 76. If you have any photos that you think could grace the pages of our Vos Images readers' photo page, please send them to images@frenchmagazine dot co dot uk and if you have any comment you'd like to make about either the magazine or something you got up to in France, please drop me a line at edit@frenchmagazine dot co dot uk (you are not allowed to put email addresses on blogs, for some reason). There are prizes for the best of both, so get in touch!

I'm off tomorrow to France for a bit to, erm, research a piece for next issue on Nice and the Riviera (it's a terrible job, but someone... etc). I am hoping to get back to Grasse, home of French perfume. I went once years ago and they let me make my own aftershave (called "Lethargie pour Homme", of course), so I hope to replenish stocks. I imagine the ladies of France will hardly be able to contain themselves.

I hope to post a blog or two from Nice and Le Tignet, technical issues permitting. Stay tuned!

In other news, please check out Dan Johnson's blog over at Siblu - there's some good scope for discussion. Oh, and I've just reviewed the DVD of A Christmas Tale for the second issue of the brilliant new movie magazine Filmstar - the first issue of which is on sale today at all good newsagents and supermarkets. Alors, à bientôt...

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

**Special offers**

A few special offers from travel/holiday companies for you below - I will aim to post such offers more regularly so that you can eke out every euro from your pound sterling! Just click on the links to go to their websites and get full details.

Complimentary TGV travel to Burgundy or Provence and 10% off a Canal du Midi deluxe barge break from Go Barging

Until June 30th 2009, three nights for the price of two at selected hotels with Brittany Ferries

Some French golf break bargains to be had with Golf Planet Holidays

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Le couloir d'incertitude*

Apologies for the paucity of updates of late - it's been a busy couple of weeks, what with getting French Magazine to print (Issue 75 will finally be on sale on April 24th – look out for the Loire château on the cover and a free bagged issue of the Traveller in France) and then swanning off to the Lake District for Easter.

Given my family name, you might reasonably presume that I am a Lakes aficionado or frequenter. But despite my presumed Cumbrian heritage, the weekend's walking and pie-eating break was my very first in the land of "Thwaites" (clearings).

Some brief internet genealogy research (the cheapest kind) had revealed that my forebears may have been notable landownwers and so, seeing myself as some kind of prodigal son, I was expecting a triumphant homecoming as I passed through Kendal, gateway to the Lakes, onto Windermere and up to Bassenthwaite, the northernmost and least touristy of the waters where I would be staying.

There would surely be bunting, dancing girls and jugs of ale for the heroic southern softie who finally deigned to step foot up north to be with his brethren. Women and children would weep with joy as I made my way through my unfamiliar homeland, waving flags and knocking out Royal Wedding-style commemorative plates for future generations to either eat hotpot from or put on eBay. Instead, in Bowness I was queue-jumped by a stern-looking Japanese couple itching to get their hands on a battered sausage in Vinegar Joe's chippy. I ask you! Still, I'm sure there's a Stuart Maconie-style travelogue waiting to be to written on the subject.

In the meantime it's on with French Magazine Issue 75, which will feature, among many other Francophile-friendly delights, the changing face of Champagne – the region, not the drink – and the rise of Golf in France.

Talking of sports that we invented and turned out to be not very good at, there's a lovely piece on French cricket in today's Indpendent. I love a good day at the cricket – I can usually be found eyeing the cider tent by 11am at the annual Bath Cricket festival – and feel sure the game would catch on in France if, contrary to what the organisers and journalist hope, the French ditch the 20-20 format and opt for five-day matches.

To my mind, they wouldn't get bored at all. After a delayed start time thanks to whatever transport strike was holding up spectators en route to the game, then a four-hour, five-course lunch followed by an obligatory afternoon snooze, there would be very little cricket played – perhaps ten overs aside. Then it would be time for an apéro and off to dinner.

*Geoff Boycott's lovely phrase "corridor of uncertainty" might also be applied to the English Channel given the recent boat blockades. Ce n'est pas le creekeet, as he might say, and I hope that none of you have had your holidays ruined. If you have, to cheer yourself up just imagine, for a moment, Boycott commentating on French telly.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Scarlett Johansson, not me: New face of Moët et Chandon

Alas, I have been overlooked by the good people at Moët et Chandon, who have plumped for pouting beauty Scarlett Johansson when looking for their latest brand ambassador. I thought it must have been me for a moment when I heard the Moët top brass describing their new pick as "refreshingly spontaneous, generous, glamorous" and someone who "like Moët, has a magical story to tell and makes people dream". I hope they told her to pronounce the "t" in Moët.

Maybe Babycham will come knocking for me instead.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Internet 0-1 Library

I am undertaking more freelance writing now that French Magazine is a bi-monthly title (Issue 74 will now be on sale April 24th, dear readers, so many apologies to those of you awaiting your French fix) and the first commission I have received is to write a brief social/cultural history of coffee in France.

Naturally, my first port of call for research was t'interweb but I soon realised that certain dates didn't tally from one so-called "expert source" to the next. So, for the first time since I was a student, I went to the public library to do some work in situ, and to sniff out some facts from actual - don't tell anyone! - books.

And what a treat. As I plonked myself down amongst the undergraduates and pensioners, I felt completely at home and instantly more studious.

As for the research, the archives of Bath Library offered up a rare beauty – a photocopy of a pamphlet written in 1845 by a local coffee merchant, one Samuel Bennett. It detailed in fine olde Englishe the Coffea Arabica plant's origins and the relentless spread of its boiled, then roasted and percolated, seed throughout the world from Ethiopia to Arabia, Cairo, Damascus and Constantinople, and eventually to the coffee shops of Venice, Amsterdam, Paris and London.

The librarian, an upbeat and helpful chap, had to go into a back room to dig the prized document out for me, and insisted that under no circumstances did I take it anywhere. All very cloak and dagger and, more excitingly, a rare victory for the printed word over the internet's presumed omniscience.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

England thrash France

David Hepworth, with customary insight, has a great take on the unpredictability of sport following the England rugby team's shock trouncing of France at Twickenham on Sunday. I can't help thinking, though, that the OTT media assault on the English in the build-up to the game had more than a little to do with the outcome. Pride, attacking with pace and rubbish French defending - the perfect set-up for a drubbing.

In other news, the latest issue of The Traveller in France has just gone to print. It's a rather lovely read, and includes city guides to Dijon, Angers, Biarritz and Mulhouse, plus extensive features on green French holidays, learning and modern art breaks, plus the best places to head for a picnic. There is also a very amusing interview with comedian Marcus Brigstocke, himself something of a Francophile.

It will be bagged free with Issue 74 of French Magazine early April, and available as a download from soon after.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Modern life is not rubbish

Over the weekend I enjoyed preview discs of two cracking new French film releases.

Modern Life
(pictured) is a masterful study of the erosion of farming communities in the Auvergne. Director Raymond Depardon is from the area and his film oozes love and respect for his subjects. One thing I noticed was that the men interviewed were generally dejected and, well, knackered, while the women by their sides were smiling and upbeat in spite of the harshness of rural life. Not sure what to read into that. Anyway, it's on general release from April 3rd.

I found the 1970s-set thriller Rivals equally compelling. It's a moral fable, with impeccable period costumes and soundtrack, about two brothers on either side of the law and stars Guillaume Canet (director of Tell No One) and François Cluzet. It's out on DVD March 30th.

You can read the full reviews in the next issue of French Magazine, which goes on sale early April. You can subscribe here.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Vive la France film season

Fans of French film are in for a treat, as a new season of great movies kicks off this weekend on Sky Arts. It's curated by the man who, during the 80s and 90s was everyone's favorite comedy Frenchman – Antoine de Caunes. With his innovative music show on BBC2, Rapido, and then Channel Four's saucy smut-fest Eurotrash he was, for me as an adolescent, the very face of France itself.

Now an established director, de Caunes will discuss his own inspirations and influences as he presents classics such as Orphée by Jean Cocteau and modern works like Love Me If You Dare. For me, though, the undisputed highlight will be a quartet of Jacques Tati films – Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot, Mon Oncle, Playtime and Jour de Fête (pictured, top), which is in my top ten favourites of all time.

The season kicks off tomorrow night, Saturday 7th March with Orphée. I urge you to watch. Alas I won't be able to, as I don't have satellite telly!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Sarkozy sued by MGMT

As far as I can tell from this story about boisterous beatnik popsters MGMT suing Sarkozy's party, everyone's a winner. The hip New York duo's studied cool rubs off on the politicians, while the free publicity for the band is priceless.

Kids is the song in question but Time to Pretend gets my vote. It's one of the great singles of recent years, though the sentiment probably wasn't quite what Sarko was looking for.

Monday, 2 March 2009

French rugby mystery

The decision to play the first ever Friday night Six Nations game was as baffling to the untrained eye as the brilliant underdog performance of the French rugby team against Wales.

I watched the game through the mist of a few glasses of Champers, as I helped a friend celebrate a new job, so I cannot comment on the ins and outs, but it's clear that writing the French off is perilous, especially when Sébastien Tellier, sorry Sébastian Chabal, has fire in his belly.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Don't touch my Picardy!

The Independent's coverage of French current affairs comes from the top drawer this week. I normally turn to the peerless Charles Bremner of the Times for my French gossip and news, but a change of paper in my local coffee shop meant a daily pre-work flick through the Indie.

In today's paper alone, there are features on the proposed restructure of the French regions - see the hard copy for an excellent map of the newly delineated boundaries - while the frankly laughable minimalist art scene and Ségolène Royal's latest brush with the paps get column inches, too.

Of these three stories, Sarkozy's plan to virtually dispense with Picardy and merge other major administrative chunks is the most eye-catching to anyone who knows and loves France. Given that the French notion of terroir is not merely attributable to wine and food but, crucially, to les habitants and where they were born and bred, a plot to turn someone from a Burgundian to a Franche-Comtois overnight seems incendiary. I predict a riot. Or, failing that, a stroppy march through town or a turnip blockade on the roads if farmers get wind of it.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

YSL was sitting on a fortune

This puts all of our economic tribulations nicely into perspective. I'd rather be broke than a twit who pays £20million for an armchair. I trust it has a drinks holder and reclining facility for when YSL watched the Eastenders Omnibus on a Sunday, otherwise the new owner might feel a tad shortchanged.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Bung it in the wash

I was chatting to a friend recently about my wine-soaked year at the University of Pau in the early 1990s. From the twin fug-inducers of 10F Pol Rémy and Existentialism (part of my French degree), I recall some of the tunes that soundtracked my stay there.

This is from Francis Cabrel, a sensitive soul with a southern drawl. It still sounds lovely. Don't fancy his motor much, though, or his 'tache.

And this gem from Alain Souchon – a single which I bought on cassette, no less – offered a much-needed antidote to Sartre's pained inertia. If love or life is going a bit belly up, simply bung it in the washing machine, to get the colour back. Obvious.

One more thing. Rumours of French Magazine's demise have been greatly exagerrated. The title has been snapped up by Evolve Publishing, and the next issue comes out early April.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Mud, magazines and a buyer's market

Last weekend a few of us, including a bona fide Frenchman, Alex, who is our hugely affable sales manager on French Magazine, piled down to the Bath Rec for a front-row mud-fest as the Heineken Rugby Cup group stage came to a soggy end.

With honours even in a low-scoring match, both sides progressed and as Bath didn't win, thereby dumping the boys from the Pink City into the swollen Avon, I am in no position to tease Fanny from the Toulouse Tourist Office. Who knows, we may meet in the final. Alex, an Aveyron lad with mixed allegiances on the day, quite sensibly refused to nail his flag to either team's mast. He kept schtum and ate his smelly burger. A top day out was had by all.

Back to work, then, and we are, in addition to preparing the April Issue of French Magazine (you need a subscription!) in the midst of making the Traveller in France Spring/Summer 2009 edition. This venerable 80-year-old tourism magazine, previously edited by the sadly missed Anne Gregg, will be available mid-March, and promises to be packed with holiday ideas, many with a nod to bargain breaks with a green or family twist.

Meanwhile, as the French property side of our industry seeks to find some kind of foothold against a wave of media naysaying, Penny Zoldan, a vastly experienced French Property agent, urges those with a few quid and a dream of living in France, to get looking sharpish while buyers have all the clout. Yes, the ex-rate is bad, but many people's savings are doing next to nothing sat in the bank. Meanwhile, prices are being slashed by those looking for a quick sale in France.

This is her latest reader Q&A in French Magazine - I would welcome your comments:

We have a reasonable deposit and intend to buy a property in France and wonder if we should leave it in the bank and wait for things to improve or buy a property now. Perhaps you can give us your views on the current market.

The property market in France has not been as affected by the ‘credit crunch’ as property in the UK. Historically the French have not allowed people to borrow so much to buy a property and have kept lending limits to reasonabe amounts so that people are not so overstretched and can afford to pay their mortgages. This means that there are not the number of repossessions we are seeing here and that those that are selling are selling because they want or need to. However, the market has slowed down tremendously as people have become a little nervous, which has led to price reductions from those who do want to sell – as well as the possibility of good negotiations for those who are in a position to buy – making it a real buyer's market.

Despite the fact that the Euro is a little weaker, you will find that you will be paying less in equivalent sterling for a property in France this year than you would have paid last year when the rate was better.
This, added to the fact that with the Euro so strong, you will be buying into a stronger economy and will not have all your eggs in one basket, are very good reasons to buy now.

The Euro is expected by many of the currency specialists to rise a little more by March/April which, if you buy now, would be the time that you would be completing – it is not expected to reach the higher rates we enjoyed a year or so ago.
If you are going to need a mortgage you will find that they are still available on the same basis of income to loan ratio as always but that you will need a reasonable deposit, which you mention you have.

With this in mind I would suggest you contact a mortgage broker (we can put you in touch with someone if you wish) who can get you an ‘in principle’ agreement to a loan prior to making trips to France to find a property – this will mean that you will be in a strong position to negotiate with a mortgage agreed and ready to go and will also confirm how much you will have available to you.

With the low interest rates being offered on savings in the UK, it would seem pointless to leave your money in the bank, losing value when you can use it to purchase in France at a time when prices are lower than last year and you are in a strong position to negotiate even further. I believe that over the next 5 years that prices will creep back so that you get much more capital growth on your investment in France than you would get if you were to leave it in the bank earning low interest.

Make the most of the quieter market, when agents will really work hard to research suitable properties for you and most properties are on the market because the vendors really want to sell now.
If you are concerned about the outgoings, then consider renting out your property at the beginning to help pay your mortgage – the rental market is particularly good at present. The signs at the beginning of this year indicate that there is no reduction in interest in buying in France but that people are just a little hesitant, which I believe will mean that the market could soon start improving.

To sum up, as you are in the lucky position of having a deposit then taking into account the buyer’s market, the lower prices and the low interest in the UK on savings, I believe this could be an extremely good time to purchase in France to get the benefit of the growth in prices as the market picks up again.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Ideas for Valentine's Day, Part Two

Bereft of any inventive ideas for Valentine's Day? How about a weekend in Bayonne and Biarritz? Chocolate for girls, surfing for boys – two gender clichés nicely covered. This landed in my inbox today, and sounds good:

If you’d like to combine a bit of romance with some good old-fashioned chocolate indulgence on Valentine’s Day, then head to the Basque city of Bayonne where France’s first chocolate-making took place, and combine it with a weekend in the nearby town of Biarritz.

Located in the south-western corner of France in the Bearn-Basque region, Bayonne’s chocolate-making expertise dates back to 1609 with the arrival of Jewish immigrants. In the 18th century, a Chocolate Maker’s Guild was formed and for over 100 years chocolate-making provided one of the city’s main raisons d'être. Two chocolate factories and five pastry cook-chocolate sellers exist today, all family-owned and run.

Bayonne is renowned for its hot chocolate (originally flavoured with cinnamon) and dark, bitter variety of chocolate, and there’s no better place to sample it than in the oldest chocolaterie in town, Casenave, which was established in 1854. Their delightful boutique offers a selection of chocolate bars and makes Chocolat Mousseux – the compulsory house speciality!

The Atelier du Chocolat is another must-see, where you can discover the art of chocolate and cocoa culture in its exotic environment, not forgetting the all-important tastings to finish the visit off…

When you have satisfied your chocolate cravings, make your way back to Biarritz for a bit of romance. Check into the luxurious Sofitel Thalassa Miramar for a spot of champagne and thalassotherapy whilst enjoying some breathtaking views over the Atlantic Ocean.

Alternatively, for something a little quirkier and easier on the wallet, the funky 70’s styled Hotel Le Mirano offers nine double rooms, each decorated in a unique retro style.

For more information on Bayonne, Biarritz and the surrounding area, visit

Ryanair ( flies directly to Biarritz from Stansted, Luton and Birmingham.

Sofitel Thalassa Miramar is offering a special Pure Serenity Package for two people from 13-22 February 2009 from 576 Euros which includes breakfast, dinner and champagne, one hour’s massage treatment for two with essential oils, as well as unlimited access to the spa which boasts a sauna, hammam, jacuzzi, indoor and outdoor heated pools and a gym. Contact Sofitel Thalassa Miramar on +33 5 59 41 30 01 or email

Hotel Le Mirano has double rooms from 70 Euros a night during February 2009 and will offer couples staying two nights over a weekend a complimentary bottle of champagne on arrival. Contact Hotel Le Mirano on +33 5 59 23 11 63 or email

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Party likes it's 1199

Find 26 million euros behind your sofa cushions and this compact, bijoux pad near Limoges could be yours. What parties you could have – imagine pulling one from the truncheon in your own medieval tavern. Make mine a mead top please, barkeep, and be quick with those pork scratchings!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Claude Berri dies

One of France's most respected film directors, Claude Berri, passed away yesterday. He achieved massive success with his two films about rural deceit and revenge – Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources.

Both were very well received in the UK, and Manon des Sources was especially well received in my house, thanks to the casting of the estimable Emmanuelle Béart as the, erm, titular shepherdess. Surely every hot-blooded young man fancied booking a trip to the Provence countryside upon witnessing her open-air bathing ritual.

Berri also enjoyed considerable success as a producer, mosty recently working on Bienvenue Chez les Ch'tis – France's most popular film of recent years, woefully under-distributed in the UK – and La Graine et le Mulet (released here as Couscous), whose central family meal scene is one of modern cinema's most eye-catching and beautiful.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

It wasn't me

Happy New Year everybody.

Now that festive excesses are but claret-soaked memories, thoughts must turn to 2009 and the fun ahead. From a professional perspective, the year promises to be challenging in the extreme, but you get nothing done by moaning. I hope that those of you who have enjoyed reading French Magazine over the years will continue to do so.

I am off to the France Show at Earl's Court this weekend, where I hope to spy some familiar faces. The show is always a fantastic place to immerse oneself in a bit of French culture, and to think about planning a great holiday. I might see you there!

Meanwhile in the news, it's good to see that, despite more pressing issues to deal with, even the corridors of power in the French Justice Minsitry are rife with idle speculation.