Letter: Parisians are friends in deed

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The Independent Online
Sir: I am on the side of William Finch in his response to M D Wells (Letters, 22 and 18 August respectively) when it comes to Parisian behaviour.

About a year ago, on the first family visit to Paris, I had my wallet lifted by an expert, who leapt on to a Metro train as the doors were closing. My wife, two daughters and I - fortified by the stereotypical reputation of Parisians - stood in despair on the platform with our bags and our creaking O-level French. We were not prepared for what followed.

Some passers-by had seen what had happened and, while one of them sprinted off to the controllers, to see if the police could hold the train at the next station, others shepherded us to the customer service bureau. Sadly, the police could not reach the train in time but the Metro staff immediately took over, making the necessary calls to the various credit card companies, and letting our hotel know that we would be delayed - and all this during the much-loved Parisian lunch hour.

They then looked after our baggage while we took a taxi to the Consulate. Learning of our difficulties, the driver refused the full indicated fare, arguing this was "an expression of sympathy from the people of Paris".

I should be comforted to think that a French family with little English would be afforded the same treatment on the London underground. I wonder why I have such difficulty believing that?


Reading, Berkshire