'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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?