There is, when you write about France, always the danger that you will become Swiss Toni, the character from The Fast Show who thinks almost any situation “is very much like making love to a beautiful woman.”

Particularly so if, like me, you fell for her young. There were so many things to say about her. She was beautiful. And mysterious. More importantly, there were always 10 francs to the pound and she would sell you those wooden-handled Opinel fishing knives and bangers without asking, you naughty little boy, what you intended to do with them.