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The most important thing I could say about France is that they were nice enough to be vastly inferior to Italy in the 2006 World Cup Final. Itís not as if they had any choice, but thanks, guys, all the same.
 

Limoges

not my copyright
not my copyright
Lots of English people understandably like France and the French yet there remains a peculiar suspicion reminiscent of a local football rivalry. English people canít be bothered to foster resentment of the Welsh or Scottish, in spite of those nationsí simmering anti-Englishness which luckily rarely manifests in more than rooting for the other team in a football match. The English are not anti-French as such, but if we use the previous theme as a standard, very few of us would want Ďthem there frogsí to beat Italy in any game, let alone the World Cup Final.
 

Lac de la Vassivere, Limousin

not my copyright
not my copyright
I shouldnít say I speak French as such although I did used to, Iím sure a week following the Tour de France would rekindle old collocations and itís on this note Iíd like to start... for three summers as a teenager I had the honour of staying with a delightful French family near to Limoges, the highlight of which was a trip to the Tour de France as it came to town. I donít remember much about it, not least as it was over in a flash, but I do remember it inspiring me to watch on TV that night. For a decade or so thereafter I watched every stage in detail, dreaming of riding with them. Never made it, never really tried, never mind.
 

Some Castle

not my pic
not my pic
Limoges is a nice town but I donít remember it, and these photos poached from other sites (sorry) do little to jog my memory. So too have I forgotten all bar next to nothing about the Dordogne Valley, other than a boat trip on the river at a very pretty village called La Roque Gageac. Even images of this have escaped me by now, there was an antique shop run by a sinister looking chain-smoking woman, and a few houses on the cliff which had fallen into disrepair.
 

La Roque Gageac

er, not my copyright, perhaps obviously
er, not my copyright, perhaps obviously
The best way to experience France is to go to the Tour. Tainted it may be, but it passes through some incredible countryside, and remains to this day probably the biggest single sporting event in the world bar none.
 

Limoges Town Hall

somebody else took it
somebody else took it