Postcard from... Paris
John Lichfield has been The Independent's man in Paris since 1997, covering French news. Before that, he was the paper's Foreign Editor and he has also worked in Brussels and Washington. In 1999, he was the UK press Awards Foreign Reporter of the year.
Friday 29 August 2014
Paris is miserable in the rain. Water cascades from balconies. Streets turn into torrents. Motorists seem to take delight in splashing pedestrians.
Is it an illusion or does it seem to have rained far more since François Hollande became president? Clouds seem to follow him like teleguided drones.
During his inaugural parade in 2012, he stood in his open limousine with water cascading down his suit. The British tabloid newspapers nicknamed him “Rain Man”.
Mr Hollande was soaked again during the commemora-tions of the D-day landings in June. On Monday, he visited a small island off the Breton coast to commemorate its part in the liberation of France. It poured with rain throughout Mr Hollande’s visit. He refused to wear a coat or even carry an umbrella – inviting ribald comments in the French media about his ill fortune. His government had collapsed that morning.
Perhaps, Mr Hollande was trying subconsciously to imitate General de Gaulle. Seventy years ago this week, “le Grand Charles” strode down the Champs-Elysées while snipers were still active on the rooftops of a newly liberated Paris. If it had been raining, I am sure De Gaulle would have worn a coat.
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