The joy of French hospital food

After checking me in, the receptionist, who was wearing an overcoat, said: ‘There is no heating in the hotel. The unit is broken. But it is not cold today so you should be fine.’ Room 357 was cold. Hoping to raise the temperature by a degree, I filled the sink with hot water, turned on all the lights, and switched on the massive telly. It showed drug squad officers busting dealers in a poor northern French town. After combing through a suspect’s text messages, they bashed down his or her front door and arrested everybody and seized their drugs and cash. Most often it was hashish in small amounts and

In praise of French doctors

From my hospital bed in Hyères I could look out of the window and see the old town and Edith Wharton’s old house, the Castel Sainte-Claire, away on the hillside. Christophe, a male nurse, came in to welcome me and take my temperature, pulse and blood pressure. He was masked and gloved against possible infection from the old Covid Dix-Neuf and he spoke English. As he slipped on the finger thermometer and inflatable sleeve, he reminisced about his rugby-playing days. Thirty-five years ago, he said, he had competed against an English team who played rugby with a violence that was incredible. His opposite number on the English side had sharpened