Category Archives: Paris

At the Métro station

Dalrymple sees several youths,

one of them with horrible rap music emanating loudly from somewhere about his person,

climb over the barriers to avoid paying for a ticket. They do so, he says, with impunity, in full view of the public and staff.

No one stops them or says anything to them; it isn’t worth the trouble. They are pleased with what they have done, an expression of the power of the powerless.

Dalrymple imagines that they

would have turned angry if anyone had said anything to them, as if their human rights were being infringed.


How ya gonna keep ’em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?

Or as Dalrymple puts it,

how will the emirs keep their daughters penned in seclusion, once they have seen the dashboard lights?

He draws attention to de Tocqueville’s observation (L’Ancien Régime et la Révolution, 1856):

Le régime qu’une révolution détruit vaut presque toujours mieux que celui qui l’avait immédiatement précédé, et l’expérience apprend que le moment le plus dangereux pour un mauvais gouvernement est d’ordinaire celui où il commence à se réformer.

Macron’s manifold flaws

Jumping into a taxi in Paris, Dalrymple gets talking to the (Vietnamese) driver about the presidential election. The driver says he is not a fan of Marine Le Pen, but if in the second round she is pitted against Emmanuel Macron, he will vote for her. Dalrymple asks what puts him off the male aspirant. The driver points out that Macron

  • is an unknown quantity
  • has an unpleasing face — not exactly ugly, but hard, ruthless and predatory
  • is too young
  • is a bungler
  • has enjoyed a too meteoric rise
  • is a half-cocked tinkerer at the margins rather than the radical reformer needed in these times
  • lacks experience
  • has a personal life that is rather odd (maybe he is his wife’s puppet)
  • is too plainly the candidate of the European political élite, something which of course counts greatly against him

The dilapidated West

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-08-14-36Dalrymple points out that with the economic centre of gravity having shifted to Asia,

North America does not seem able to assure its population of an increasing standard of living, and Europe is sluggish.

Paris, for instance, is

tired. One feels it is in a time warp of the trente glorieuses, during which it modernised with the help of a concrete-based infrastructure that looks past its best. France has an almost communist air of dilapidation; this is a society that has to run very hard just to stay where it is.


Putrid self-importance of the Moslem terrorists

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 22.46.08Dalrymple says that looking down from an aircraft at Paris,

that vast and wealthy city, its millions of citizens going about their business, I thought how stupid it was of a handful of miserable ferret-faced terrorists, the incarnation of Lombroso’s theories, to imagine that they could bring about the downfall of such an imposing edifice by their putrid, self-important acts.

Yet the barbarians are said to have

made up only 5% of the population of the Roman Empire at the moment of its supposed collapse.

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 22.47.56Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 23.04.06

I don’t shit in doorways

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 08.14.30I don’t piss in my pants.

I get on, I validate.

The things that piss Dalrymple off

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 08.20.45The targets in Petit traité d’intolérance: Les fatwas de Charb are often worthy ones, writes Dalrymple.

In ‘Death to instructions written in the first person!’, Charb complains about the increasing tendency of authorities in Paris to issue directives thus. Buses do not say on their liquid crystal screens ‘Validate your ticket or face a fine’ but ‘I get on, I validate.’


infantilises the population and turns the city into a giant primary school.

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 08.33.01It also

adds its mite to the miasma of untruth in which we now increasingly believe that we live. For the fact is that many people get on and do not validate their tickets; on a crowded bus in Montreuil recently I was, in fact, the only person who validated his ticket, which made me feel like one of those persons in a Bateman cartoon. And on the Paris Métro one often sees young people vault over the barriers to avoid payment, and no one ever confronts them.

Clichy-sous-Bois united against Fox News

Residents of Clichy-sous-Bois outside Paris demonstrate in support of Mayor Anne Hidalgo's plan to sue Fox News over its absurd claim that there exist no-go areas for non-Muslims and police in parts of the French capital.

Residents of Clichy-sous-Bois outside Paris demonstrate in support of Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s plan to sue Fox News over its absurd claim that there exist no-go areas in parts of the French capital. ‘We are grateful to Ms Hidalgo for all she has done to make our lives here safe and happy, and for her commitment to socialism and secularisation,’ said one machete-wielding Clichy dweller, who declined to be named. Another, who gave his name as Muhammad, raised his Kalashnikov aloft in anger and said: ‘We are furious at this wily Anglo-Saxon news cabal for traducing us in this way, and wish to register our wholehearted backing for Ms Hidalgo’s courageous act’ — © Agence de presse socialiste 2015

The public conveniences at Clichy-sous-Bois

Residents of Clichy will never forget what the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has done for them

Anne Hidalgo: arguably the greatest mayor Paris has ever had, and certainly the bravest

The name of Anne Hidalgo is ever on the lips of Clichy dwellers, who will never forget the many kindnesses that the mayor of Paris has shown them in working tirelessly to improve their security and quality of life

Dalrymple quotes a resident of this go-to zone of Paris:

‘What I like about it? No need to look for public toilets. They are under the sky, in the buildings.’

The resident has a travel tip:

‘Come armed.’

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Postcards from Paris and Havana

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Dalrymple’s destructive urge

Tour Maine-Montparnasse (1973, Eugène Beaudouin, Urbain Cassan and Louis de Hoÿm de Marien) turns Dalrymple into an anarchist:

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 16.24.52

He had a point

The crassest example of modernist architecture….It combines size and inescapability with banality….I cannot see it (I try not to look at it) without feeling a surge of anger….Parisians ascend it…because the top floor gives the only view of Paris from which you cannot see it….I think of Bakunin when I look at the tower: the destructive urge is also constructive.

Edificio Bacardí (1930, Rafael Fernández Ruenes, Esteban Rodríguez Castell and José Menéndez) restores Dalrymple’s soul:

A harmonious architectural whole….There is hardly a…detail that is superfluous or tasteless. The tiled multicolouration…is perfectly adapted to the Cuban light, climate, and temper….architects understood the need for air and shade in a climate such as Cuba’s….elegant, sophisticated, convenient, and joyful.

Sint-Jans-Molenbeek perambulation

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 08.31.40It is undeniable, writes Dalrymple, that Britain has ‘more unattractive people than any other country in Europe’. Yet parts of the Continent are not far behind. The sides of the roads in Belgium, for instance, are

a rubbish tip. This cannot have been for lack of money to clear…up: the Belgian economy is…50 per cent government expenditure. Nor can it have been the result of…ignorance: the Belgians are…much better educated than the British…it could only have been because …Belgians…regard their country as a…dustbin.

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 08.32.44Visiting Brussels, our man perambulates in the as-yet-largely-ungentrified Sint-Jans-Molenbeek quarter, where many Moroccans and Turks reside. Being a properly urban area, it does not dishearten in the way the Paris banlieues do, he finds.

Alphonse Vandenpeereboomstraat, Sint-Jans-Molenbeek

A peek at Molenbeek: section of Alphonse Vandenpeereboomstraat, Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, in what Conrad called ‘the sepulchral city’