A LITTLE FLIGHT READING
IT’S an eternal dream for many of us. Buy an atmosphere-laden apartment in Paris, preferably with a view of rooftops (a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower would be nice), become part of a community of bohemian characters with charming eccentricities and have assignations on the Left Bank with lovers who look fetching in berets.
Since watching the Edith Piaf biopic LaVieenRose last week, I’ve been dreaming of living in her shabby chic (movie-set) Parisian apartment. Goodness knows what it costs to buy something like that in Paris these days: more Euro than most of us can imagine, I suspect.
But while we’ve been sitting on our derrieres having these reveries, Australian actor and author Ellie Nielsen has been attempting to purchase a piece of Paris and has written a light and bright account of her adventures in real estate and red-tape bureaucracy.
It would be a spoiler to reveal if she succeeds, but with transplant books of this genre, often it’s the journey (or villa or farmhouse restoration) that is the real story. Nielsen’s often amusing descriptions of trying to decipher Paris (the chequebook saga is particularly wry) advance the story as effectively as her hunt for her perfect chez-moi. Alexandra James I’M not certain the title would have made it past a regular publisher, but that’s one of the joys — or should that be perils? — of self-publishing.
Ross Steele, with a hefty 30-plus books on France to his name, is well qualified to give visiting rugby fans the lowdown on the country where 20 national teams will bruise it out for the sport’s sixth World Cup from September 7 to October 20.
There are tips on food, getting around, etiquette, attractions and shopping, along with some useful sporting expressions: Ouestlestade,s’ilvousplait? (where is the stadium?), nousavonsgagne (we won) or nousavonsperdu (we lost).
C’estnul (that’s hopeless!) and ilssont mauvais (they’re terrible) are probably best not used when referring to the French team.
The maps are a little on the basic side — reflecting the book’s cottage-industry origins, perhaps — but they do the job and would surely be as welcome as a long cold beer to a bunch of green and gold fans a long way from home and in need of a guiding hand.
It’s a book with a short shelf life: Rucking France will be as flat as two-day-old champagne after October 20. But by then Australia should be heading home with the cup. As they say, Vivel’Australie! . More: www.rosssteele.com.au. Barry Oliver
BuyingaPieceofParis Ellie Nielsen (Scribe, $29.95)
GUIDEBOOK RuckingFrance By Ross Steele (Valentine Books, $25)