Profile Cherie Booth: The original Blair babe

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Arts: The man who always knew the score

French composers have always excelled in the art of music for cinema, and none more so than Michel Legrand. With over 200 film soundtracks and three Oscars to his credit, he is still turning his relentless drive into symphonies and stage musicals, and playing jazz.



Arts: Si, si, nous sommes des rock stars

The shame of Johnny Hallyday is but a distant memory. Britain has lost its monopoly. Whisper it... French pop is cool.

Classical music: The proms

The 105th Proms season opens on Friday night with a performance of the late Sir Michael Tippett's choral masterpiece, The Mask of Time. It is a typical Proms piece - big, challenging, ambitious - and sets the scene for the 79 concerts that follow. Next week, the newly appointed musical director of the Berlin Philharmonic, Sir Simon Rattle (left), conducts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in a rare outing of Rameau's opera, Les Boreades. It's just one of the pieces which feature in a series of themes which celebrate French music and the works of Richard Strauss and Carl Nielsen. There's even a concert devoted to Duke Ellington - proof of just how wide ranging this great music festival is.

Classical: Liberte, egalite and Beethoven's 5th


Before the week is out...: Play this

THE FRENCH invasion continues - dance music, Levi's Flat Eric, and now board games. The strategy game "Abalone" was invented by two French musicians and has been selling like hotcakes in Europe for the past 10 years. It defies precise definition (but think of a cross between chess and draughts played with marbles), has sold more than 3 million copies and been voted game of the decade at the Cannes International Games Festival. On the Continent Abalone has such a following that the brand now includes a jazz record label, a range of sportswear clothing and a sailing venture. Due in the UK at the end of the month, it looks like Monopoly might have a rival at last. IK

Wednesday book: Missing out on the macabre


Cinema: Middlebrow, middle-class, magical

On Connait la Chanson (PG)

Film: Les francais under a groove

French music has never been hip - but that was before a breath of fresh Air.

Pop music: Trip-hopping a la Francaise

Forget the Eurovision pap, French pop musicians have at last discovered creativity.

Lost In France?

We swooned when their intellectuals spoke, marvelled at their couture, and believed them when they said we couldn't cook. But now? Well, who'd want to be French?

CLASSICAL MUSIC Martin Roscoe and Peter Donohoe Wigmore Hall, London

"Oh Lor'! Have we got to listen to all this first?" complained a woman in the bar before Martin Roscoe and Peter Donohoe's two-piano recital on Friday. Perhaps that's what comes of advertising it as a celebration of American Independence Day.

Today Paris, tomorrow the world...

A new generation of artists, musicians and designers is forging a fresh creativity that owes little to French tradition - or to Swinging London. Julie Street meets the nouveau-chic market leaders
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