Leading article: We'll drink to that

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The Independent Online

It is only right that the seventh largest French city should make a fuss about Bastille Day. So London - home to 300,000 French nationals - will duly play its part in commemorating the day on which Parisians finally decided that the time for nonchalant shrugging was over.

Franco-Londoners are being encouraged to vote to honour the most distinguished among them. And they are not short of candidates. Eva Green, Joël Robuchon, Nicole Fahri, François Cecillon, Arsène Wenger: not since 1066 has our capital been so replete with conquerors from across La Manche. Why else would Nicolas Sarkozy have felt it necessary to come over to London to campaign when running for the Elysée?

We might marvel at the extent to which our cultural, sporting and commercial lives seem to be mixed nowadays, but, in truth, there is nothing that new about it. Pace Hogarth, De Gaulle, Chirac and The Sun, the histories of our two proud nations have always been intertwined.

And sometimes in some rather surprising ways. Did you know, for example, that we helped to invent the phenomenon of champagne? It's true. It was only as a result of advances in British bottle-making technology during the late 17th century that the famous bubbles could be safely contained.

And there you have it. French wine in British bottles: clearly a recipe for success down the ages. Now if only someone would inform Monsieur Sarkozy and Mr Mandelson of the good news.

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