In her bestselling French guide to the UK, 32-year-old Agnes Catherine Poirier describes the 'shortcomings and charms of a great nation'. Based in London since 1995, Agnes loves 'Perfidious Albion', her affection nutured by her admiration of Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes and the inimitable accent of Laurence Olivier. However, this is also the England of appallingly dressed, pet-obsessed binge-drinkers. Many stereotypes that spring most readily to French minds are already things of the past. No one wears bowler hats, yet Burberry is now the motif of the chav or hooligan. Old-fashioned pubs are fast disappearing from towns. Even the full English breakfast is today the preserve of tourists hoping to recapture English heritage. As for sex - 'on matters of sex, the British learn only how to laugh...it frightens them, thus the obsession.' Sex seems to have nothing to do with love, but has been turned instead into an exercise like yoga or jogging. Revenge for tabloid attacks on France or for British expats' invasions of Brittany and the Dordogne? You decide.
But this will entertain and educate all readers about their own country and whether its 'entente' with La Belle France is 'cordiale' or not.
Writer and broadcaster Agnes Catherine Poirier is primarily a political journalist and film critic for Liberation, Telerama and a regular commentator for The Guardian and the BBC. www.touche-thebook.com