France

Could this self-made billionaire become France’s first Muslim president?

12 October 2019 9:00 am

The French writer Michel Houellebecq has a disconcerting habit of correctly predicting unsettling events. In 2001 in Plateforme he predicted…

Emmanuel Macron will regret his failure to crack down on Islamists

8 October 2019 1:11 am

It beggars belief that Mickaël Harpon was employed as a computer expert in the intelligence department at police HQ in…

Labour is following in the doomed footsteps of the French left

27 September 2019 7:57 pm

The left no longer exists as a coherent political force in France. Embarrassed in the 2017 presidential election, the Socialist…

The French city zones where police rarely escape unscathed

12 September 2019 7:11 pm

In December 2015, Donald Trump claimed parts of the French capital were no-go zones for the police. ‘Paris is no…

The mysterious ways of the French

7 September 2019 9:00 am

These new tablets that will save or at least prolong my life have unpredictable side effects which only now, a…

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Trump’s yin and yang game with China

24 August 2019 8:12 pm

It should be obvious by now — but somehow isn’t. Whenever @realDonldTrump says something wild, you can bet the real…

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak (Getty)

Why you can’t let Brexit affect your life

24 August 2019 9:00 am

A couple with a first baby sought my advice: they had accepted a low offer for their cramped London flat…

Will the Mistral drive me to murder?

11 May 2019 9:00 am

So far this latest Mistral wind has blown for two and a half weeks. The Mistral is said to blow…

Meet Santini: the world’s worst tourist guide

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Santino was unusually short in the leg and, in his mid-twenties, was already rapidly losing his hair. He had recently…

Notre Dame from above (image: Lana Sator) and, right, Michel Virlogeux and Norman Foster's Millau Viaduct (image: Bernard Jaubert / Imagebroker / Rex / Shutterstock)

Notre Dame is an architectural nullity

27 April 2019 9:00 am

Notre Dame is only important from a Shakespeare’s-birthplace point of view. Architecturally it is a nullity beside the cathedrals of…

(istockphoto.com)

Hope will rise out of the ashes of Notre Dame

20 April 2019 9:00 am

‘Great edifices, like great mountains, are the work of centuries,’ wrote Victor Hugo in Notre-Dame de Paris. ‘The man, the…

The truth is messy. Village gossip is even messier

20 April 2019 9:00 am

An angry villager accosted me outside my house as I came through my front door. ‘You’re wrong about those horses,’…

It may seem incredible, but I’d trust an Italian over a Frenchman any day

9 March 2019 9:00 am

For a few years before coming to Italy, I lived in Paris and I cannot tell you the life-enhancing difference…

Left: cartoon of Hector Berlioz published in the Wiener Theaterzeitung in 1846. Right: the composer in 1863, aged 59

David Cairns explains how we learned to love Berlioz

2 March 2019 9:00 am

According to his friend and fellow-composer Ernest Reyer, the last words Berlioz spoke on his deathbed were: ‘They are finally…

Europe’s culture clash: Macron vs Salvini is a battle over a continent’s soul

16 February 2019 9:00 am

Two weeks ago Luigi Di Maio, Italy’s vice-premier and Labour Minister and the top politician of the Five Star Movement…

Scourge of puritans: Christian Dior with model Sylvie, c.1948

How an anarchist music student become of the fashion greats: the life of Christian Dior

9 February 2019 9:00 am

Strange to think when you visit the Christian Dior show at the V&A that his time as designer was so…

Credit: graemenicholson

Hell — and heaven – on the French Riviera

19 January 2019 9:00 am

We drove down from the hills to visit friends of friends with a house by the sea and on the…

Portrait of the week: Theresa May’s double defeat on Brexit

8 December 2018 9:00 am

Home Political hobbyists speculated on the future of Brexit if the government fell, if a new Conservative leader was chosen,…

We lost our elderly, dementing French charge

8 December 2018 9:00 am

I entered the cave house carrying groceries and panting from the climb to find an old hippie woman displaying rugs…

French President Emmanuel Macron during a wreath laying ceremony in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on November 11, 2017 during the Armistice Day commemorations marking the end of the first world war

France’s second world war shame

17 November 2018 9:00 am

The monument to this French village’s war dead is a plain white stone block with the head of a grizzled…

Is Emmanuel Macron having a meltdown?

10 November 2018 9:00 am

Emmanuel Macron was elated when France won the World Cup in July. The photograph of him leaping out of his…

Not skunk as we know it – smoking the stuff is bad news

The perils of smoking three-year-old Glaswegian skunk

10 November 2018 9:00 am

Three years ago we were given a bag of skunk, Catriona and I, provenance Glasgow. It was one gigantic dried…

Back to the disappointingly familiar, disappointingly limited wares in the half-dozen shops that close most afternoons and sometimes capriciously all day

40-plus reasons to love and hate France

3 November 2018 9:00 am

I apologised, was gladly granted an indulgence, and on Sunday I packed a small bag and reached into a drawer…

‘I go against my instincts to be just an actor’

‘I should just shut up’: Dominic West on #MeToo and the perils of talking politics

20 October 2018 9:00 am

Lounging confidently on the sofa of a Soho hotel suite, Dominic West has been beaming at me, but now his…

450 bottles of red? What more could I want from a neighbour

29 September 2018 9:00 am

I have a friend here in this French village to which we moved just over a week ago. He is…