I love Paris in the springtime.
I love Paris in the fall.
I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles,
I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles.
“I Love Paris” is a popular song written by Cole Porter and published in 1953, and it is very difficult to disagree with the lyrics. Paris is very easy to fall in love with.
I was here for France v Scotland in February, at an arctic Stade de France, so making a delightful return in March has taken me, and the Guinness Six Nations, on a journey from Winter to early spring, although the Cole Porter’s drizzle was very much evident after a beautifully sunny Parisian morning, and it had me thinking maybe Sacha Distel’s 70s hit Raindrops keep falling on my head would be a more apt musical analogy.
France v Wales is always a very special fixture. Back in the olden days, when I was young, this game invariably decided who won the championship with whoever had the home advantage that particular year usually ended up winning the title.
On Saturday in Paris, France and Wales were at totally different ends of the table, but it was Wales that started the brighter with a George North try after just 7 minutes. Penaud and Danty replied tries for France to give them a 20-7 half time lead, but it wasn’t the blue tsunami that many were expecting.
This band of Blue Brothers with an 80,000 backing group played with total disregard for Cole Porter’s seasonal lyrics, Romain Ntamack and Antoine DuPont sizzled and it wasn’t even summer, and when the entire ensemble were in tune they hit all the right notes in a glorious rugby medley.
Despite conceding two early second half tries to Atonio and Fickou, taking the score to 34-7, Wales refused to give in and two touchdowns of their own from replacements Bradley Roberts and Tomos Williams brought the score back to 34-21
Penaud went over in the 77th minute but Wales had the last word with a Rio Dyer try in the final minute, which Leigh Halfpenny converted to make the final score 41-28, a bonus point win for France, with Wales collecting a delightfully unexpected bonus point for scoring four tries.
As the fireworks drifted up into the early evening sky both sides turn their International thoughts fully to the Rugby World Cup to be held here in the republic in a few months time.
The drizzle continued at Cafe du Nord in a much more pleasant manner as the balsamic vinegar cascaded on to my accompanying side salad post match.
If Irish eyes were smiling then French ones were certainly grinning, whilst the Welsh visual organs were wide open staring at the task in front of them.
Defeat in Paris never seems quite as dreadful as it does anywhere else, Cole Porter was not alone in his love for this beautiful city as fans of every rugby playing nation will testify, I will leave the last word to Monsieur Porter himself.
Every time I look down on this timeless town
Whether blue or gray be her skies
Whether loud be her cheers, or whether soft be her tears
More and more do I realize that I love Paris in the spring time