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A balanced view

Now I slag of France a fair bit. And 99 times out of 100 they deserve it.

I was here for the election of Sarkozy in 2007. Picture the scene... I’d been sitting quietly in a bar with my local agent.

The locals were quietly watching a soccer match on the television, nursing small glasses of wine, emitting garlic and making an occasional lack lustre “honh honh”.

At half time, the news came on announcing that Sarkozy was in and had beaten the babe Royal.

The sons of Charlemagne greeted this news calmly and got back to the match.

After the match was over (God knows who won, but they didn’t seem too bothered either way – a bit like their attitude during world war two), they quietly filed out of the bar. It was getting late…

Within 5 minutes they’d started a riot and within 30 minutes the police were chucking out tear gas grenades like it was a Gallic Halabja.

My agent, who for reasons best left was dressed like General Patton, inhaled a good deal of the gas and couldn’t eat or drink for about 24 hours.

But I reckon they would have rioted even if Royal would have got in. It's just in their nature and the entire incident demonstrated to me that the country is just not ready for democracy yet.

However, there are some really great things about France

Let’s face it, the country is beautiful. Really beautiful (excepting Paris which really does smell of urine – if you don’t believe me, you’ve never been…).

As a stranger in a cafe in a country village, people entering will shake your hand and say ‘bonjour’ before joining their mates. They have a sense of courtesy that is very rare in England these days.

They’re not afraid to utterly knack any Third Worldsters who get too uppity which, when you look at our government’s reaction to the detention of British sailors and marines by Iran in 2007, makes you slightly envious.

(Incidentally, I note that the goggle-eyed freak’s reaction to Iran’s intransigence on the nuclear issue is to encourage them to produce more nuclear power - dressed up as 'talking tough'. You couldn’t make it up. But that’s by the by…)

And then of course there’s this...