There is something special about Paris in the winter, the moment you step off the train at Gare du Nord, the smell of coffee engulfs you as you hit the dark misty grey gloom lit up by the neon lights of the cafes and bars in rue dunkerque.
Paris does the cold dark miserable season like no other city, with its inimitable style and class.
But Paris had a surprise in store this weekend, supplying blazing sunshine and temperatures of fifteen degrees, it was more Marseille than Montmartre, the pavement cafes doing a roaring trade with the tartan army sipping their cafe cremes with an insouciance and panache, was this really the Six Nations ?
Historically France and Scotland have a very special bond, in 1942 Charles DeGaulle described it as the oldest alliance in the world
“In every combat for five centuries when the destiny of France was at stake, there were always men of Scotland to fight by the side of the men of France, and what Frenchmen feel is that no people has ever been more generous with its friendship”
The auld alliance with France was first agreed in 1295 built on France’ need to curtail English expansion.
The canny Scots were given the pick of the best French wines as a result of this accord.
There was no sign of the auld alliance in Paris yesterday, the scots may have fought with Joan of arc at the battle of Orleans, but watching Guirado hit Gray underlined that friendships were on hold for at least eighty minutes.
Under crystal clear azure skies the anthems roared and France got off to a roaring start, Penaud got over the line after six minutes, only for the TMO to disallow the try in fact Les Bleus had three tries disallowed and scored four not a bad return, although the clock had reached 88 minutes before Alldritt scored the fourth and bonus point try.
France played with the sun on their backs and in their hearts, it was evident they were playing for each other and with eachother, there were flashes of finesse, but bucket loads of desire.
The young guns Dupont, Ntamack, Penaud, Ramos and Bamba brought a freshness and an energy and that old warhorse Guilhem Guirado was his usual magnificent self.
As seems to be the way with matches in Paris, this one lasted 88 minutes and 49 seconds, with Gregory Alldritt scoring France’s fourth and bonus point winning try to the delight of the tricolour waving sun kissed supporters at the sacre couer end of the ground
Joy for once was the visible emotion etched in the faces of French rugby players, no spring revolution here just the relief of a victory which they hope will sprout the shoots of blossoming growth, although folks from Calais to Carcassonne will not be holding their breath, but maybe youth is the answer for France, and as in the words of the song:
“The Young’s ones shouldn’t be afraid
To Live, Love, while the flame is strong
For we may not be the young ones very long”.
Paris a bientot !