Lurking in the mind of every American visitor to this country is fear.
Outside of easy, social settings, are the French quite as civilized as their reputation suggests?
No-one back home could understand the terror Bryan felt in France that summer. No one would get it if Bryan said Paris was the last place on earth he wanted to be because you have to fight through the crowds in the sweltering air to feel the revulsion that overcame him that day in July 2007. He was glad to step onto a bus bound for Angers, in the Loire Valley, where he’d rest for a night before going on to a village where his sculptor friend owned a little house. As the dreary tenements of La Midi slid past, and the old couple in the seat ahead chatted about a scandal embroiling the National Front, Bryan reclined in relief and tried to banish the horrendous cliché looming in his mind: that he was escaping to “the real France”. The cliché could make you vomit.
Minutes later, the humidity passed its climax and raindrop…