The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel -

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)

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