- 10 Oct 07, 09:55 PM
Fontainebleau – Hello you. Today, Tommy and I have come over all altruistic and decided to share some of our five-and-a-half weeks’ worth of Rugby World Cup experience with those making their way over for the England-France semi-final on Saturday.
Here are some of the key tips we’ve picked up during the course of our grand escapade. Agree or disagree, just don’t bang on about your licence fee.
Things to bring:
Rubbish shoes – I know you’re not as stupid as I am and are unlikely to wear flip-flops in Paris in October, but don’t dig out your sling-back Pradas either. Whatever you’ve got on your feet, they will get mangled, whether by bodily fluids, lager or some clown doing the can-can under the Eiffel Tower at midnight. Fact.
A change of clothes – Chances are you’ll hit Paris early. Chances are you’ll be as drunk as 10 men by 9pm kick-off. Chances are you’ll have been involved in a breakdance ‘burn’ with a group of French youths. Chances are that the French darling you fancy chatting up will think you’re a tramp. Do yourselves a favour, leave the pink Lacoste in the wardrobe and wear something you wouldn’t normally be seen dead in - like a vest. Tommy…?
An alarm clock – You and your mates have rocked up on the 7am Eurostar from Waterloo. What do you do next? See some sights for a couple of hours, get bored and nip down the Chien et Canard? Exactly. One of you is bound to fall asleep before show-time. All of you will be catatonic come home time on Sunday.
An amusing costume – For Tommy and I, this World Cup has been all about fancy dress. Lads dressed as Victorian soldiers? Tick. A gaggle of Queens? Tick. A phalanx of medieval knights? Tick. Get involved - everyone will love you and you’ll probably find yourself plastered all over this blog.
A fanny pack – You need to separate your valuables. Look at me, one mugging and I think I’m Dixon of Dock Green. But the truth is it can be a dangerous world out there folks and, as my cheery old dad used to say whenever I left for a new term at university, “trust no-one”. (Tom used that line yesterday, but I like it, so I’ve used it again). My advice is leave one of your bank cards in your car/hotel room. If you don’t have a car/hotel room, stick one in your fanny pack.
A laminated piece of paper with the name and address of your hotel written on it – At 7am, when you’d otherwise be weighing up whether to sleep on a station concourse or in the doorway of a branch of Flunch, you will be cradling it as if it was a World Cup final ticket.
Your mate from the City who’s just been given a 200 grand bonus – If everything goes pear-shaped, then hopefully he’ll be sympathetic and sort you out. If England win, then hopefully he’ll come over all grandiose and sort you out. If France win, he’ll probably just jump in a cab all the way back to London and leave you up to your neck in it.
Some handy French phrases – Listen, don’t take any notice of those staid old guide books, stick these in your locker and you’ll be laughing:
“Aucune chance, mon pote!”
“Ce restaurant n'est pas aussi bon que le McDonalds”
“Voulez vous parler, ou bien dois-je continuer à vous reluquer de là oú je suis?”
A tube map of Paris – No-one wants to miss the biggest sporting event since Van Barneveld stunned Taylor at the Circus Tavern back in January because they’re stuck in the Paris equivalent of Cockfosters. So make sure you’ve got a map of the metro in your back pocket. It may look like a plate of spaghetti, but it rocks.
What not to bring – Beer goggles (every bar in Paris will provide them come 2am), your nan (it’s probably not her scene…although it might be…sorry, bit presumptuous…), cheese sandwiches (they’re everywhere), pepper spray (if Paris is anything like Marseille, the locals will have bundles of it).
Right, Tommy and I are about to jump in Le Bloggernaut and carry out a recce of Paris. Only a week and a half to go…I think I might cry…
Ben Dirs is a BBC Sport journalist travelling around France in a camper van with Tom Fordyce. Click here to search for all of Tom and Ben's blog videos.