There are, I accept, a few reasons why you might not be keen on the French.
Off the top of my head, Nicolas Sarkozy (a fading distaste thankfully), Arsene "whinger" Wenger, the Gallic penchant for blowing up Greenpeace boats, Jean Marie Le Pen and his daughter, those bloody annoying Nicole et Papa Renault adverts, umpteen remakes of The Man In The Iron Mask, Paul Le Guen (if you're a Rangers fan), and casual rudeness all spring to mind.
But against that there are all the things that make France great: Zinedine Zidane, early Jean Luc Godard movies, Beatrice Dalle, the Tour De France, the Jean Pauls Goude et Gaultier, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and did I mention Beatrice Dalle? Oh, I almost forgot, and Jean-Jacques Sempe.
No? You don't know him? He's not as well known on this side of la manche as he is in France. Sempe is a cartoonist who for decades has been providing cartoons for Paris Match and covers for the New Yorker. He's 80 this year and this week sees the cinema release of Petit Nicolas, based on the character he created with Rene Goscinny in the 1950s. Goscinny went on to create Asterix, while Sempe spent most of his subsequent years creating delightful cartoons crammed with detail and spiked with an ironic wit. He's Ronald Searle with a French accent (et, peut-etre, sans l'anarchie).
His cartoons are full of bicycles (he is the great Tour de France cartoonist, a field that admittedly is narrow), bistros, bookcases and bourgeois couples. You'll also find cats and jazz musicians, tiny old ladies and panoramic cityscapes, all delineated in his spidery hand. He does what all the best cartoonists do. He creates a whole world with a few strokes of the pen.
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