Just back from the most fantastic long weekend in the City of Light, a place I’ve known in literature, art, photography and cinema for years but never actually been to. Standing on the Pont Neuf, the location for Les Amants de Pont Neuf, the French film where I first saw (and fell in love with) Juliette Binoche gave me such a rush (just the first of many French film actresses I’ve fallen in love with, French cinema has a habit of producing the most engaging leading ladies, from Catherine Deneuve to Audrey Tautou). Turning round as I walked along the Seine past all the little green lock-ups of the bouquinistes selling rare and second hand books, art prints and bande dessinee right there in the open air I can see the towers of Notre Dame, the edge of the Ile de la Cite, the Louvre and then suddenly a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. And for some reason it isn’t until you finally see the Tower that you really, really feel like your are in Paris. And its a wonderful feeling. You’re in Paris, its spring time and the sun is out and suddenly life is good…
More to come on Paris soon, I’m still kind of processing it all; late yesterday night I saw my last glimpse of the city from the air as we took off, the whole of Paris sparkling in the night and there was the Eiffel Tower, seen from the plane as we soared up into the night above France, glowing in the Parisian skyline, the great searchlight rotating on the top. An hour and a half later (and some nice red wine, merci Air France) descending through some clouds which clear to show the dark, night-time waters of the Forth and on the left Edinburgh lit up in the night and the Castle from the air, seemingly floating with the dark Castle Rock invisible from our height at night, only the floodlit battlements visible. I flew over the Eiffel Tower and Edinburgh Castle all lit up in the darkness within an hour and a half or so, even the simple act of the flight home was brilliant.
Two of the most beautiful cities in the world and I’m lucky enough that one of them is my home… More later and pics and vid to come, but I’ve only just started working on those and realised I took more than 2 gigs of images… Well, wouldn’t you? And now I’m trying to get out of the habit of saying ‘bonjour’, ‘merci’ and ‘au revoir’ in any shop or bar I walk into… Missing Paris already…
Marko Ajdarc of the Brazilian comics site Neorama dos Quadrinhos sent us a good item to put up on the FPI blog and since it involves A) good European comics art and B) raising money for a good cause I thought I’d repeat it on here too. 95 press cartoonists and comics artist are contributing their work to auction to raise money for the homeless charity Droit au Logement in France. Some of the top bandes dessinées artist are involved, with names like Bilal and Jacque Tardi (who did the poster for it).
I found it interesting that this came at a similar time to the ‘red tent‘ happening in Paris, where les Enfants de Don Quichotte (how could I resist a story with a name like that?) distributed red tents to the homeless so a tent village sprang up, rapidly covered by the European media and shaming Parisian authorities into acknowledging the problem. You can look through the art on offer in the auction here.
No, not the dodgy use of the word in Iraq but the Real Deal – Paris celebrates the 60th anniversary of the liberation. Certainly a great event to celebrate, not least because of the bravery in liberating the City of Light but also because the German commander refused to follow Hitler’s demand to fight a useless battle so this ancient city escaped much of the destruction that other European city’s suffered. However, along with many other British people – not to mention Americans, Canadians and an awful lot of others – I am more than a little disgusted at the way the official version of events has airbrushed the Allies out of the history so it now reads that ‘France liberated France’.
This is not new – it is a form of revisionism that began right after the liberation when De Gaulle, showing his normal gratitude to the people who had sheltered him for years and equipped the Free French forces he commanded, declared to the Parisians that the French had liberated themselves. Presumably this was because of the desperate desire to overcome the shame of their rapid defeat four years previously and the even more shameful collaboration by many, including many in the government, with the occupying Nazi forces (although many brave Maquis risked capture, torture and death to fight on – supplied of course by the Allies and organised by British Intelligence). Well, it makes a change from Hollywood airbrushing everyone but the American GIs from the war. Did I imagine it, or did we actually fight that war here? I’m sure someone once told me the British had a pretty important role in the fight against fascism (nothing big, we just stood off the entire might of Nazi Germany by ourselves for whole year without breaking, but hey, why mention it?). Perhaps I imagined it.
Rather curious behaviour from one of the EU nation’s who is often the loudest in calling for more integration in European brotherhood