Postcard from... Paris


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The Independent Online


“Most of the time the French taxi driver is grumpy. Sometimes he has just smoked and thinks because he opened the window you don’t smell the tobacco stench. Sometimes he has a dog on the front seat...

“He is usually talking noisily to his friend over the phone, and listening to football, or listening to very loud radio and will look down on you if you request lowering the volume.”

More French-bashing? Yes but well-informed, self-critical French-bashing. The passage is lifted from a funny and instructive new blog, written in English by a French journalist, author and script-writer, Catherine Monroy.

Catherine’s Diary is part of an evangelistic crusade by Ms Monroy to explain the French to the British and vice-versa.  She was the co-author of a book last year on the cross-Channel, love-hate relationship Les Anglais, nos ennemis de toujours (The English, Our Best Enemies).

She says she started the blog as an antidote to the loneliness of being a thriller writer. She chose to write in English to reach a wider audience.

Her advice for finding a taxi in Paris is: “Forget it. Pay the 20 per cent extra which it costs to book online with one of the 2,000 private taxis authorised by the government.” The drivers are, she says, “smart, polite, well educated”. They offer wifi or the use of an Ipad.