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Listen to Excess Baggage for

01 December 2007


Travel from London St Pancras International to Paris, Gare du Nord can now be done in just two hours and fifteen minutes, making the possibility of a weekend break in Paris all the more achievable.  Awaiting the traveller, as ever, is the Eiffel Tower but are the little bistros and the charming boutiques still there?  And for the regular visitor to the city is it always the same tourist attractions?

Sandi Toksvig talks to a resident, Dr Andrew Hussey, Head of the Department of French and Comparative Studies at the University of London Institute in Paris and the author of Paris: the Secret History and two regular visitors to the French capital, Carolyn Boyd, the editor of France Magazine and Marc Roche, London correspondent for the French newspaper Le Monde.

They debate whether the city is developing and modernising without losing its unique character and wonder whether the recent riots and strikes are putting visitors off.

Presented by Sandi Toksvig

Paris street sign

Photo: Paris street sign

This week’s guests:

Carolyn Boyd
is the editor of France magazine, a publication aimed at British visitors and ex-pat residents of France. Carolyn studied French at University and spent a year in Alsace as an ‘assistante’ and then travelled round the world, especially in French speaking Canada. Last year she became editor of ‘France’. Carolyn visits Paris regularly.

Dr Andrew Hussey is Head of the Department of French and Comparative Studies at the University of London Institute in Paris (ULIP). Andrew is author of ‘Paris: the Secret History’.

His first memorable visit to Paris was in the late seventies at the age of sixteen when he was in a band.  Andrew travelled from his home town of Liverpool to visit the grave of Jim Morrison of the Doors in Père Lachaise cemetery.  He has lived in Paris on and off since 1987 settling at first in the quarter of Pernety, a working class district in the south of inner Paris, where the Portuguese in particular had moved.  The local church was built with left over bots of the Eiffel tower, which had been built mostly with Portuguese workers.  Andrew has since moved to the 7th arrondissement on the left bank.

Marc Roche is the London correspondent of French daily evening newspaper Le Monde. He also writes for many English language publications. Originally from Brussels Marc travels frequently to Paris to his newspaper’s offices often using the Eurostar.

Marc sees Paris as essentially a bourgeois city, conservative at heart. However he has noticed a more liberal cosmopolitan element beginning to emerge. He enjoys its history, architecture, museums and the trappings of the good life, restaurants and arts. But it is a divided city with big gap between the have and the have-nots.

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Sandi ToksvigSandi Toksvig:
The daughter of a foreign correspondent, Sandi has been travelling all her life more info
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