Paris. The City of Love, home to Pepé le Pew, dancing polar bears (well, every fridge magnet I saw had them on), the birthplace of pole dancing and once home of the object of Oblix’s affections Falbala. The most visited city in the world, where traffic jams stretch from La Défense in the west to Disneyland in the east. Where a small hotel room, no bigger than a six yard box can set you back €550 just because you can see the top of the Eiffel Tower on a clear day (which there rarely are) by hanging off the roof-top TV antenna. Paris, home of dreams, nightmares and everything in between.
So why am I here? Good question as my normal cheery outlook seems to be slightly clouded by the comments above. Let me set the record straight. I’ve spent more time in Paris than any other city on this planet bar London and Copenhagen thanks to a year-long work assignment that saw me hiring and firing all manner of people. With some of the most bizarre employment laws known to man I was sent to the Cite l’amore to “cut through the red tape”, which was American speak for let’s take a chance we won’t be sued for doing “that”. Since the heady days of 2001 I’ve been a regular visitor, and perhaps Paris and I got off on the wrong foot as I’ve always had a mild dread of trying to do anything that involves negotiation, contracts or due process. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Parisians to death, but sometimes cannot understand the quirks of life in the city. The city is simply an enigma to me.
If ever one establishment summed up this enigma more than most it had to be Paris Saint-Germain football club. The premier team in one of the premier cities in the world. Alas, their standing has never been of premier quality. For a club that are actually younger than me (that makes me feel old) their dominance of the media would lead you to believe that they are the most successful team in the country. They aren’t. Historically that title could be said to belong to Saint-Étienne or more recently Olympique Lyonnaise. Olympique Marseille would have a thing or two to say about who was the biggest club in the country, and even regional sides such as Nantes, Lens and Lille would say they were more successful. But that is all about to change if you believe the hype. Continue reading