NICE, France – Many American friends truly believe I live in an elegant paradise called France where the women are chic, the men seductive, no one eats junk food and we spend our time sipping rosé in cafés and making love in fields of lavender.
I don’t blame them. France didn’t become the number one tourist destination in the world for nothing. It’s a brand right up there with Jesus Christ and the Beatles, burnished by experts ever since Louis XIV turned his father’s chateau into the Palace of Versailles in 1682.
Modern France, in many ways, was invented by a brilliant cabal of Parisian elites in the 1600s and 1700s. That as late as 1800 France was overwhelmingly comprised of desperately poor peasants who spoke different dialects and did not even understand French has become a minor detail of history.