Everything sounds better in French. But when the Ga
rllic nation attempts English, sometimes all is lost in translation. Take a stroll through Le Marais, try not to smirk as you pass a shop unromantically named ‘I Do Marriage, Be Sweet’ on Rue Beaubourg or ‘Hello, I Love You, Can You Tell Me Your Name?’ on alliterative Boulevard Beaumarchais. Bewildering, dazing, confusing. No lines to learn to forget to read between. Maybe this is where Cecilia Ahern gets inspiration for the titles of her doorstopper potboilers. Stopping a few doors down on Boulevard Beaumarchais, the grammatically challenged ‘Restaurant Loving Hut’ conjures up all sorts of scenarios. An amorous small structure with a fondness for eating places, perhaps? Qu’est-ce que c’est?
Time to chill in 17th century Place Les Vosges, grab a coffee under the arches at Café Hugo. Everybody’s changing; some places stay the same. Parisians are so friendly. C’est quoi? In the sandy square, children, substitute pets, hang from climbing frames like miserable uncaged monkeys. Better not seen not heard but they’re far enough away. Disconnect. Seats, lovers populate. Paris can’t wait. Tucked away in an unforgotten corner of Place Les Vosges, the apartment where Victor Hugo penned the Hunchback of Notre Dame, rooms wallpapered to within a square inch of their dead lives. He’s gone, the wallpaper’s still there. An empty Edouard Vuillard interior brought to life. No doubt in part thanks to said conquering author, a queue snakes out of la cathédrale, slithering round the statue of Charlemagne. Skedaddle; head for the queueless Saint Gervais et Saint Protais, near yet far from the clueless maddening crowd, hifalutin, lording it above the City Hall. Get a high in a high church in a high church. No usurpers of grace. Experience multiple epiphanies. Peerless chanting fills the nave. As we said, everything sounds better in French.