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France

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

Head of the French Socialist party Jean-Christophe Cambadelis Photo: Getty

Rona Fairhead will be good for the BBC – but who was so keen to nobble her rival?

6 September 2014

Hats off to Rona Fairhead, the former Financial Times executive who will succeed Lord Patten as chairman of the BBC Trust. It requires a brave spirit to take on this… Read more

30 August 2014

Placing refugees Sir: Tony Abbott seems to have fooled The Spectator. Your editorial (23 August) gives plaudits to the Australian Government because it has made 4000 resettlement places available to… Read more

Martyr village of Oradour-sur-Glane Photo: AFP/Getty

Andrew Marr

30 August 2014

No, no, no, you don’t want a house abroad — the paperwork, the taxes, the piping, the cost of the pool. What you want are good, kind, generous friends with… Read more

30 August 2014

We do remember them Sir: I applaud Tazi Husain’s defence of the role played by Baroness Warsi at Westminster Abbey during the first world war and his own role in… Read more

Mario Draghi Photo: Getty

Europe's leaders worship Mario Draghi. They should listen to him instead

30 August 2014

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi secured a place in history by his demonstration, on 26 July 2012, of the power of words in a financial crisis. Not long in… Read more

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This time, the lefties are right: we really do pay our bosses too much

23 August 2014

The FTSE100 index stands precisely where it did in the first week of December 1999. Whichever way you look at it, shareholders — including pension funds — have had a… Read more

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Fine, get a job in the City. But reach for your dreams first

16 August 2014

August is the season for conversation about career choices. Every holiday party seems to include new graduates or next year’s graduands in need of grown-up advice. Many yearn to be… Read more

Centricas new boss: Iain Conn Photo: Getty

The man who could sell the British public on fracking

9 August 2014

Iain Conn, who will succeed Sam Laidlaw as chief executive of Centrica, would have been a dead cert for the top job at his current employer, BP, were it not… Read more

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Wanted: a leader for the free world

9 August 2014

There was a time when having almost two hundred of your citizens blown out of the sky was a big deal for a western democracy. But when Malaysian Airlines flight… Read more

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