Helen Mead: Seduced by the magic of France

Helen Mead: Seduced by the magic of France

Helen Mead: Seduced by the magic of France

First published in Helen Mead

THE wine, the cheese, the fashion, the language — what's not to like about France? Well, the cheese for a start — I hate the stuff.

But after a week in Paris I'd certainly give the country’s other attributes a thumbs-up.

So many people have written books about French life that its best bits are legendary. There is no disputing that the French are more stylish.

“Oh, look at her dress”, “Isn’t her skirt gorgeous?”, were among the phrases tripping off my teenage daughters’ tongues as we ambled along the boulevards on holiday last week.

I had to agree — they really know how to dress. The effortless elegance is something that we British, despite all our efforts, cannot emulate.

And the language is beautiful, almost hypnotic. It renders even the most unattractive man a sex God. It is the one language I would love to be able to speak fluently.

All schools should teach it from an early age, to enable us to reach a level that allows us to interact with the French to some extent and not be left floundering, able only to utter a handful of useless phrases centred around opening a window, closing a door or observing a dog in the road.

French bakeries are so much more atmospheric than ours, their bread so much tastier.

I love the way people walk around clutching long baguettes and find it fascinating that, for a population that eats so much bread, there are few overweight people — or that’s how it seems, compared with the UK.

But not everything across the Channel is rosy. Finding a public toilet is like looking for the Holy Grail. I never thought I would ever say ‘Thank goodness for McDonald’s’, but if it hadn’t been for their toilets I don't know what I'd have done.

Paris has so many beggars, and not just people sitting in the street gesturing with paper cups, but men and women with chained animals — dogs, cats, even rabbits — perched on the pavements. Women with infants beg for money, and you can't enter an underground train without an accordion being thrust towards your face.

You STILL can't get a decent cup of tea. The last time I visited France, in the mid-1990s, it was more like pond water. Nothing has changed. On menus the drink still appears as an also-ran, a lonely item in a sea of different coffees. Thankfully, I had the foresight to take a pack some of my tried and trusted Tetley.

Some things are a mirror image of the UK — litter, rude people and they also have rain (we didn't see much, but when it came, it poured).

The French know how to relax and have a laid-back approach to everything. Best of all, they actively encourage dogs and cats in restaurants and cafes — how wonderful is that?

Comments (25)

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4:15pm Mon 11 Aug 14

the usher says...

The people!!!!
The people!!!! the usher
  • Score: 3

4:24pm Mon 11 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

I don't know any french writer with as much elegance.
I don't know any french writer with as much elegance. ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -4

4:27pm Mon 11 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

They also encourage frogs legs and snails in restaurants and cafes too!
They also encourage frogs legs and snails in restaurants and cafes too! ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -3

4:47pm Mon 11 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

What about that time you were seduced by a magical aroma more powerful than anything that could even be bought in France or even be translated into french.

Did you know that the worlds biggest importers of French Lingerie is Saudi Arabia.
What about that time you were seduced by a magical aroma more powerful than anything that could even be bought in France or even be translated into french. Did you know that the worlds biggest importers of French Lingerie is Saudi Arabia. ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -5

10:53am Tue 12 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

I'm not like other men. I sometimes wonder what mortality is like. I have my own technique, answers, moment, aroma, sparkle, taste, weapons, language, clarity, knowledge, nectar, effects and sound as long as there is life and that's just the beginning!
I'm not like other men. I sometimes wonder what mortality is like. I have my own technique, answers, moment, aroma, sparkle, taste, weapons, language, clarity, knowledge, nectar, effects and sound as long as there is life and that's just the beginning! ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -4

10:56am Tue 12 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

If what you need is a french sounding sex God, I'm willing to work on it.
If what you need is a french sounding sex God, I'm willing to work on it. ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -5

11:10am Tue 12 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

My aim is to excite the beauty and effortless elegance in people and I am exited about peace. I get very exited about life and peace.
My aim is to excite the beauty and effortless elegance in people and I am exited about peace. I get very exited about life and peace. ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -4

11:42am Tue 12 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

The way I do peace, Today just gets sweeter than ever.
The way I do peace, Today just gets sweeter than ever. ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -4

11:46am Tue 12 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

The way I do life, the heart and soul get sweeter than ever.
The way I do life, the heart and soul get sweeter than ever. ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -4

2:29pm Tue 12 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

I'm not a fan of cheese.
I'm not a fan of cheese. ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -4

2:32pm Tue 12 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

But, I like a good Port.
But, I like a good Port. ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -4

3:32pm Tue 12 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

You're right about not being able to get a decent cup of tea and women who don't do affection.
You're right about not being able to get a decent cup of tea and women who don't do affection. ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -4

10:49pm Fri 15 Aug 14

Pendlesider says...

quote "The effortless elegance is something that we British, despite all our efforts, cannot emulate".
.
is it possible looking at what you're wearing in that photo you may be speaking for yourself?
.
allowing cats and dogs in restaurants?, only in France, and it can stay there!
quote "The effortless elegance is something that we British, despite all our efforts, cannot emulate". . is it possible looking at what you're wearing in that photo you may be speaking for yourself? . allowing cats and dogs in restaurants?, only in France, and it can stay there! Pendlesider
  • Score: 2

11:25am Sat 16 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

As someone who speaks to himself most of the time I don't think that's a very fair comment pendlesider. I dare you to send in a picture of you if your such a clever example!

Real elegance isn't something that takes effort and it isn't something a woman can emulate. Either she has it, or she doesn't have it and I can tell you without any doubt that regardless of any nationalistic tendencies she is the only real woman I know who doesn't have to do or buy anything to show she clearly has lots of it.

The way she moves through space is utterly fascinating. I doubt very much pendleslider that the way you could move through space in one of your photo's could ever equal or copy an elegance like that.
As someone who speaks to himself most of the time I don't think that's a very fair comment pendlesider. I dare you to send in a picture of you if your such a clever example! Real elegance isn't something that takes effort and it isn't something a woman can emulate. Either she has it, or she doesn't have it and I can tell you without any doubt that regardless of any nationalistic tendencies she is the only real woman I know who doesn't have to do or buy anything to show she clearly has lots of it. The way she moves through space is utterly fascinating. I doubt very much pendleslider that the way you could move through space in one of your photo's could ever equal or copy an elegance like that. ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -2

12:06pm Sat 16 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

In fact, I would apologise and be very careful what you say about her in future.
In fact, I would apologise and be very careful what you say about her in future. ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -2

12:10pm Sat 16 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

Anyone can be seduced by the magic france.
Anyone can be seduced by the magic france. ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -3

12:13pm Sat 16 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

Even I have to put my hearts romantic energies somewhere.
Even I have to put my hearts romantic energies somewhere. ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -2

12:26pm Sat 16 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

People get seduced by the magic of a lot of things. They are rarely interested in getting to know the magic of their own heart or aiding their own heart in fulfilling the magic of it's quest. They usually go and do what they are told to go and do, by televisions and celebrities in the worlds flocking centres.

I'm sure it's much the same in French cities as much as it is in any other city, apart from some of the differences in architecture.
People get seduced by the magic of a lot of things. They are rarely interested in getting to know the magic of their own heart or aiding their own heart in fulfilling the magic of it's quest. They usually go and do what they are told to go and do, by televisions and celebrities in the worlds flocking centres. I'm sure it's much the same in French cities as much as it is in any other city, apart from some of the differences in architecture. ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -2

12:28pm Sat 16 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

At least she can still be seduced by the magic of something.
At least she can still be seduced by the magic of something. ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -2

12:31pm Sat 16 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

GGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR
RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR
RRRRRRRRRRR......
GGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR RRRRRRRRRRR...... ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -2

11:00am Sun 17 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

Have you ever thought of sharing the intimacy with a french man but without the sex, or have you just never thought of it.?
Have you ever thought of sharing the intimacy with a french man but without the sex, or have you just never thought of it.? ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -2

11:06am Sun 17 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

Have you ever thought of enjoying the intimacy and focusing on that ?
Have you ever thought of enjoying the intimacy and focusing on that ? ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -2

11:07am Sun 17 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

How can there be anything as seductive as that.
How can there be anything as seductive as that. ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -2

11:34am Sun 17 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

You're entitled to your sex and your meals and you are entitled to shop go forth and flock. You can bank, believe, until you drop if you want to. You can do whatever you want to, but don't ever forget that just being seduced by the elegance and beauty of intimacy and finding the intimacy very seductive in the UK, is also a choice you are free to make.
You're entitled to your sex and your meals and you are entitled to shop go forth and flock. You can bank, believe, until you drop if you want to. You can do whatever you want to, but don't ever forget that just being seduced by the elegance and beauty of intimacy and finding the intimacy very seductive in the UK, is also a choice you are free to make. ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -2

11:37am Sun 17 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

If you can't choose that **** off.
If you can't choose that **** off. ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -2

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