'Le Spice Boy' comes to Paris! French excitement reaches fever pitch as David Beckham signs for PSG

Excitement and speculation thrived today. Would Victoria also be coming? And all those children with the odd names?

Paris

Forget the war in Mali. Forget the French civil servants’ strike. One event dominated most news sites in France today – “Le Spice Boy” is coming to Paris.

Football is not an all-consuming passion in France – and certainly not in Paris.  The American singer, Tom Waits, once famously said: “Not a man's town, Paris, not a man's town.”

If Paris-Saint Germain had signed any other 37 year-old, one-time footballing great, most of the city would have shrugged and asked: “qui?” 

But David Beckham is not just a footballer. He is “un people” – the franglais word coined by the French press to mean a “celeb”.

Excitement and speculation thrived today.  Would Victoria also be coming? And the children, one of whom is aptly named Paris?

There was ironic pride that a global super-star should be moving to France while the world enjoys the alleged stampede into tax-avoiding exile of most of the French glitterati.  Paul, 24, a fan standing outside the Paris Saint Germain club shop on the Champs Elysées said: “Maybe David Beckham will ask for a French passport like Gérard Depardieu asked for a Russian one.”

One famous Parisian, unavailable for comment today, will certainly be delighted. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy, a match-going Paris Saint-Germain fan, was reported to have played a part in the club’s abortive attempt to sign Beckham a year ago.

Mr Sarkozy was instrumental in the Qatari government’s decision to buy PSG in 2011, which has made the French capital’s perennially underachieving club into the richest in the world.

Maybe the Beckhams will now become Sarkozy’s neighbours. Another recently imported PSG star name, the Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahamovic, considered moving in next to Nicolas and Carla in a gated estate which contains Carla Bruni-Sarkozy’s mansion in the 16th arrondissement. “Ibra” finally decided that the house on offer was too expensive and not grand enough.

The transformation of PSG into a global player in the football world – and goal-scorer for the Qatari government’s PR machine – has not pleased all Paris football fans.

Violette Nahmias, 27, an economics lecturer, has written blogs and newspaper articles complaining that the club has been stolen from its fans and that the atmosphere at the Parc des Princes has become stultifyingly dull.

What did she make of the signing of David Beckham?

“Beckham? They are really signing Beckham?” she told The Independent. “That’s wonderful news. He is the only player that would persuade me to go to the Parc [des Princes] again. I swore that I would never go back after a game against Sochaux at the end of last season. We were going for the championship and we won 6-1 but the atmosphere in the stadium was completely dead.”

“But Beckham is different. I love Beckham. I will swallow my words and principles to see Beckham.”

French journalists were both excited and cynical. “With ‘Becks’, Qatar PLC is hiring a show-biz figure, a poster-boy adulated in Asia who will open up new marketing horizons,” said the website of the centre-left Le Nouvel Observateur.  “The fact that the ex-Manchester Unitred Number Seven is the shadow of the player he once was means little to the new bosses of PSG.”

The right-wing Le Figaro said: “The capture of Beckham is a wonderful media and commercial coup for PSG. His shirts will fly off the shelves at €85 a time.”

London calling: The commute

The Beckhams’ decision to live in London may work out well for Victoria’s fashion empire and their children’s education, but for David it heralds what could be a torturous 400-mile round commute.

Taking the Eurostar, which could cost Beckham £245 each way  should he opt for a Business Premier ticket, could be the best option. The journey from London’s St Pancras to Gare du Nord takes two hours and  15 minutes – less onerous than the seven to nine hours it would take  him to drive and take the ferry across the Channel.

Eurostar said “a lot” of people make the London-to-Paris trip each day for business, but would not give exact numbers.

Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor