Today it my last in Paris. I’ve been here for two weeks, which included attending a christening in Montpellier, a huge, traditional and wonderfully inclusive family gathering, and four frantic food filled days in Lyon.

I have to admit hauling a heavy suitcase and guitar around is proving a bit challenging for my aging bones. Especially since my beer budget has caused me to opt for shared apartment accommodation this trip, which often involves apartments on upper floors.

Those of you who bother to read my rare blogs will know I’ve often sung the praises of Paris, but in the interest of balance here are some less than flattering comments:

The place needs a bloody good clean. Hard bristled brooms and buckets of soapy water to clean the footpaths would be a start. And while I’m all for tradition, when every single cafe has exactly the same menu and the same, east as fast as you can piss off, approach to service it can get a bit tiresome. I saw a show here the other night called ‘how to become Parisian in one hour’ it was an hysterical one man show, by a Frenchman, that nailed it completely. Everything from disdainful service to tiny untenable apartment, which, I might add, are generally unkempt and would transfrom Kiwis or Aussies into renovation mode. But the French do not renovate, it is not traditional. Whereas, old wallpaper, ancient light fittings, tiny kitchens and bathrooms and squeaky floors and doors apparently are.

I’m bound to wonder how a country that spawned so many ground-breaking writers, artists, scientists and philosophers seems to have a population so bound by seemingly ingrained intransigence.

And what’s even harder to understand, given that fact that millions of tourists who are surely propping up the economy of this city are universally treated with such disdain. Everywhere you see golden oldies (much like myself) struggling with suitcases on metro station staircases, lost in the voluminous Gares and so on when small considirations like ramps or simple signage (Heaven forbid PA announcements in English) would make life easier for countless millions.

Okay, this my third trip so I’ve learned enough to get by, but imagine the vast majority coming here for the first time ever only feel lost and bewildered for much of their time here. In simple terms of customer relationships, it makes no sense. However, to change things would require just that, change, and I’m beginning to think the French are just not good with change. For now that keeps this city quaint, romantic and charming, but wander the back streets as I do and you’ll see how quaint and unchanged can soon distintergrate into unkempt and tawdry. And I’m sure no one wants to see that.

That said, l love Paris, I just don’t want to see her become like an old movie star whose beauty and best years are behind her.

Tonight I leave for Florence on an overnight train. I’m having to share a twin berth sleeper to Milan. If I’m not stuck with an axe murderer, I will write more from Italy.

I have some developments of the music front in train (no pun intended) and will tell of these soon.

Ciao for now,

John