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France

Photo: Alex Kouprianoff

How Napoleon won at Waterloo

5 July 2014

In a one-horse town called Hestrud, on the Franco-Belgian border, there’s a monument which encapsulates Europe’s enduring fascination with Napoleon. The story carved upon this plinth is more like poetry… Read more

A meeting between the Vichy and Nazi chiefs, 1941 Photo: Popperfoto/Getty

The cold, remote plateau of Vichy France where good was done

28 June 2014
Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France Caroline Moorehead

Chatto, pp.357, £20, ISBN: 9780701186418

It is with a heavy heart that I pick up anything to do with the Holocaust. Not because it’s wearisome or too familiar, or because — in Solzhenitzyn’s memorable phrase… Read more

14 June 2014

Old cabby’s tale Stephen Rommei’s London cabby story (Diary, 7 June) reminded me of catching a cab one cold night with a few compatriots back in the Seventies. The driver… Read more

14 June 2014

A history of persecution Sir: Colin Brown (Letters, 7 June) ignores some good reasons for keeping religion out of society. Small groups of believers are fine, but not totalitarian dictatorships.… Read more

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France's political system is crumbling. What's coming next looks scary

7 June 2014

Last week President François Hollande, following his party’s humiliation in the European parliamentary elections (his Socialists won roughly half as many seats as the National Front), decided to cheer himself… Read more

Appalling retributions and atrocities marked the end of the Free Republic of the Vercors. A French Resistance fighter is hanged in 1944

Reliving the most famous last stand of the French Resistance

7 June 2014
The Cruel Victory Paddy Ashdown

William Collins, pp.472, £25, ISBN: 9780007520802

Published to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Vercors, perhaps the most famous stand of the French Resistance in the second world war, there is an awful inevitability… Read more

France's opposition Socialists (PS) lead

How France’s left-wing government learned to love austerity

10 May 2014

For years, George Osborne cut a rather lonely figure on the European stage. He was portrayed as the only major statesman who advocated austerity. But finally he has some company.… Read more

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Why I won’t let my children learn French

29 March 2014

My children won’t learn French. If their school tries to force the issue, I’ll fight tooth and nail. There’ll be the mother of all Agincourts before I let it happen.… Read more

Shale Gas Drilling Operation By Polish State Gas Operator

You, too, can be a shale profiteer

22 February 2014

It might not be something you want to mention in the Half Moon Inn in Balcombe, or around any of the other communities where people are getting anxious about shale… Read more

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Any other business: How François Hollande let France miss the global recovery train

25 January 2014

I’ve always respected stationmasters, but that sentiment is not universally shared. A distinguished friend of mine across the Channel described François Hollande the other day as ‘un chef de gare,… Read more

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How James Goldsmith's wisdom on mistresses could revolutionise mobile phones

18 January 2014

I wouldn’t worry much about the future of the British economy. Because I have a simple plan to make the UK the world’s leading exporter of mobile phones. They will… Read more

Portrait of Napoleon by Joseph Chabord (1766–1848)

The men who invented Napoleon

14 December 2013
Citizen Emperor: Napoleon in Power, 1799-1815, Volume II Philip Dwyer

Bloomsbury, pp.800, £30, ISBN: 9780747578086

Writing about Napoleon is a risky business. It exposes the author to the brickbats of the blind worshippers for whom he is a numinous hero and the equally challenged detractors… Read more

An incredible amount of off-piste: Val d’Isère

Going off-piste in Val D'Isere

12 October 2013

First things first. Yes, Val d’Isère does have a reputation for being expensive — and it is, especially if you’re planning on eating out and embracing the après ski every… Read more

‘I don’t mind being a monster, but there are limits’

The World According to Karl, edited by Jean-Christophe Napias - review

14 September 2013
The World According to Karl: The Wit and Wisdom of Karl Lagerfeld Jean-Christophe Napias and Sandrine Gulbenkian

Thames and Hudson, pp.176, £18.95, ISBN: 9782080201706

Every fashion era has its monster and in ours it’s Karl Lagerfeld, a man who has so emptied himself on to the outside that there is no longer any membrane… Read more

London Luxury Homes Seen Losing Luster

A windfall tax on monster basements could solve London’s housing problem

31 August 2013

The mega-rich are best housed behind high fences, on wooded estates patrolled by dogs; that way, they don’t have to annoy the rest of us. But I can see how… Read more

Outdoor Umbrellas

Jeremy Clarke: The day I walked into a postcard

31 August 2013

This time last year the postman delivered a picture postcard depicting a village square in Provence. The photograph on the front of that postcard was contemporary, but the colours were… Read more

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Jeremy Clarke’s joy at a two-speed oscilating fan in la chaleur TGV

17 August 2013

Hotel Trepaner, St Raphael, French Riviera: I have read all ten reviews on this site. The overall rating (given by five of the ten reviewers) is ‘terrible’. ‘Disastreux!’ says Kimi.… Read more

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Whisper it, but the big banks are finally getting their houses in order

10 August 2013

By and large it was a good week for the big banks — underpinned by encouraging news from the wider economy, in which every little uptick brings a few more… Read more

Unassuming: Port-en-Bessin today

Notes on…Normandy

20 July 2013

There are some, I know, who for whom Normandy means the three Cs — cider, cream and calvados. But if, like me, you’re more of a three B person —… Read more

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Watch out France: Nicolas Sarkozy is back, and he wants revenge

Nicolas Sarkozy is angry — a ‘caged lion’, one of his closest friends told Le Monde last week. He is angry about the state of France, the state of his… Read more

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Fête de la Musique: Couldn’t we just get over ourselves, risk a bit of foreign and join

6 July 2013

One of the many cultural initiatives to have come out of France in the past 50 years — and therefore by definition to have been viewed with suspicion by the… Read more

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Chronicle of a Summer: Reality TV decades before it had a name

29 June 2013

Here’s a documentary called Chronicle of a Summer. Which summer? Why, the summer of 1960, in Paris, when fag-end colonial struggles were burning away in Algeria and other parts of… Read more

The lesson of France and Italy - the worse the country, the better the wine

25 May 2013

Although I promise to move on to drink, forgive me for beginning with a less interesting but even more complex subject: government. It is easy to patronise the Italians. The… Read more

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Don’t believe the hype: the French still live better than Americans

4 May 2013

In recent months I’ve read at least ten articles about French malaise — all of it apparently due to some mysterious Gallic trait that makes the world’s luckiest people unable… Read more

The armoured cars of Leclerc’s division arrive at the Rue Guynemer on 25 August

Eleven Days in August, by Matthew Cobb - review

4 May 2013
Eleven Days in August: The Liberation of Paris in 1944 Matthew Cobb

Simon and Schuster, pp.525, £25, ISBN: 9780857203175

It is fair to assume that Professor Matthew Cobb has often been asked if he is related to Professor Richard Cobb since he begins the acknowledgements of his new book… Read more