France

Le Perche: every farmyard looks like a painting

Beauty, tragedy and black pudding: the delights of Normandy

16 May 2015

I am compiling a list of the best black puddings. It began in Spain when I encountered my first morcilla de Burgos, a rich, spiced black sausage bulked up with… Read more

Gascony: nice, but couldn't it be warmer?

Nigel Lawson

2 May 2015

I have escaped this rather depressing election campaign by retreating to my home in la France profonde — to be precise, in Armagnac, in the heart of Gascony. My only… Read more

A beautiful maze: Marseille’s Old Town

The pleasures of getting lost in Marseille

2 May 2015

If you haven’t been lost in Marseille then you can’t have been there. As Alexandre Dumas wrote, this is a place that is ‘always getting younger as it grows older’.… Read more

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A fingertip symphony in a deeply rural French ladies’ hairdresser

2 May 2015

Two stylists work at this deeply rural French ladies’ hairdresser. Christelle is a gorgeous 17-year-old point-of-lay pullet, so lithe and well made I want to weep. Sylvette, the owner, though… Read more

Psychoanalyst Carl Jung (Photo: Getty)

Carl Jung meets David Icke (and writes a book of bonkers business-speak)

25 April 2015
Move Up: Why Some Cultures Advance While Others Don’t Clotaire Rapaille & Andrés Roemer

Allen Lane, pp.306, £16.99, ISBN: 9780241186992

What do you get if you cross renegade psychoanalyst Carl Jung with lizard-men conspiracist David Icke? It is a question no one in their right mind would ask, but this… Read more

Ben van Beurden (Photo: Getty)

How Helge Lund’s humungous salary helped Shell to a bargain

18 April 2015

Helge Lund was widely expected to go into domestic politics when he ended his successful tenure as head of Statoil, the Norwegian state oil and gas company. Instead, he was… Read more

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Left-wing populism is on the rise - and may take Ed Miliband to No10

18 April 2015

A spectre is haunting Europe — and knocking on the door of Downing Street. It has installed a president in France and a mayor in New York. It is causing… Read more

‘Propeller (Air Pavilion)’, 1937

Better than Robert? Sonia Delaunay at Tate Modern reviewed

18 April 2015
The EY Exhibition: Sonia Delaunay Tate Modern

In 1978, shortly before she died, the artist Sonia Delaunay was asked in an interview whether she considered herself a feminist. ‘No! I despise the word!’ she replied. ‘I never… Read more

French villager Lucile Angellier, played by Michelle Williams, falls for a Nazi soldier

Suite Francaise review: what is this film playing at, when it comes to Jews in attics?

14 March 2015
Suite Française 15, Nationwide

Suite Française is being billed as a second world war romance about ‘forbidden love’ and, in this regard, it is handsome, solid, well played and probably fine, if you haven’t… Read more

Dominique Strauss-Kahn Photo: Getty

France, England and the tragedy of DSK

28 February 2015

When we consider poets who perished before their day, thoughts turn to the Romantics or the war victims: Burns, Keats, Shelley: Owen, Keith Douglas. (Had both lived, Douglas would have… Read more

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How Marine Le Pen is winning France’s gay vote

24 January 2015

A week before the attack on Charlie Hebdo, France’s leading gay magazine, Têtu, announced the winner of its annual beauty contest. His name was Matthieu Chartraire, and he was 22,… Read more

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How to save Islam from the Islamists

17 January 2015

The terror attack in Paris last week represents Islamism’s most explicit declaration of war on free society. Non-Muslims were slaughtered in a non-Muslim country to avenge a so-called crime against… Read more

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The battling brilliance of Burgundy

17 January 2015

There is only one answer to the question ‘Burgundy or claret?’ ‘Yes, but never in the same glass.’ Yet I am about to make an observation which cannot be true.… Read more

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Good news! The eurozone is now strong enough to split

10 January 2015

Ever since European Central Bank president Mario Draghi declared himself ready, in July 2012, ‘to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro’, the likely disintegration of the single currency… Read more

Winter Hits Germany

The charming little airport that ruins thousands of holidays

10 January 2015

Horror films occasionally use the device of the deceptive idyll. An apparently restful place — a clearing in the woods, a pretty cottage — is the site of a fiendish… Read more

Outsize origami: Gehry’s Fondation Louis Vuitton

Le French bashing has spread to France. Are things really that bad?

13 December 2014

The French for French-bashing is le French bashing. This verbally costive nation is at it once again, torpidly borrowing an approximately English expression rather than coining its own. Such bashing… Read more

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Cognac and the Viking connection in la France profonde

13 December 2014

The chestnut trees were still resplendent in yellow leaf along the banks of a misty autumn river on its glide through woodlands, pasture, comfortable towns — and vineyards. This was… Read more

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Is Nicolas Sarkozy headed back to the Elysée – or to jail?

29 November 2014

In his more hyperactive moods Nicolas Sarkozy, former president of France, has been known to compare himself to Charles de Gaulle. Following defeat in the 2012 presidential elections ‘Sarko’ made… Read more

Three glamorous guests, 1921

A miracle: French hotels actually like dogs

22 November 2014

The first time I checked in to a French hotel with a golden retriever — his name was Gregory, predecessor of the incumbent Douglas — I left him, clearly unhappy,… Read more

The real French embassy is a restaurant

22 November 2014

Semper eadem. There is some basement in a Mayfair street that is forever France. It is not far from the American embassy, a strong candidate for the all-time monstrous carbuncle… Read more

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Wear a veil if you like – but don’t treat women like that

25 October 2014

What sort of clothing do you wear when you go to the opera? I assume some of you do go to the opera, otherwise the Royal Opera House could be… Read more

Proof that the Japanese know how to make great Bordeaux

11 October 2014

Château Lagrange, a St Julien third growth, has the largest acreage of any Bordeaux classed growth. For much of the 20th century, this was its sole claim to distinction. Under… Read more

Drink

In praise of the Loire - cradle of civilisation, and wonderful wines

27 September 2014

Rivers are the cradles of civilisation and the Loire is an outstanding example. It is one of the head-waters of modern France. By the 7th century, the region had emerged… Read more

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Countries shape character (so get ready to like Scots less)

13 September 2014

As I write this, I am sitting outside a weinhaus in Kaub, a half-timbered town on the wooded slopes of the middle Rhine. If you don’t know the place, I… Read more

Lu Kongjiang, taking part in a ‘bee beard’ competition in Shaoyang, Hunan Province, China, 2011 From In Praise of Bees: A Cabinet of Curiosities by Elizabeth Birchall (Quiller Publishing, £30, pp. 255, ISBN 9781846891922)

Bees make magic: an inspirational case for biodiversity

13 September 2014
A Buzz in the Meadow Dave Goulson

Cape, pp.288, £16.99, ISBN: 9780224101745

The importance of biodiversity, a handy concept that embraces diversity of eco-systems, species, genes and molecules, has been promoted for over three decades. Yet much life on Earth still faces… Read more