Written by Staff Writer
Our Correspondent Adrian Shinkman is based in Paris, where he reports on the history and culture of the French capital
The pre-champagne tourism season in France began with a bang last year. Las Vegas-esque hotel openings and other major American events such as the Paris Air Show have often made for interesting public-facing options for Parisians.
But the current public interest in Paris is found not in the four star monotony of the French capital’s glitzy hotels but on a golf course that looks up at an 18-hole golf course — commonly considered one of the world’s best.
The island course is at the Waterville Golf Club, the private members-only residence of one of the city’s biggest influencers, Charlie Chaplin.
There are no signs of the great man on this pleasant island, but history is everywhere.
The first sighting of Pierre Colomb is when you arrive in Burgundy. On his night watch, he is behind a row of television cameras and reporters. There’s a venue called Col, bien seguir! Col, from chinois = going unnoticed. Despite being at the forefront of the latest gastronomic trends, what has made Colomb popular in the town of Burgundy is a calm and wise manner.
Word of his numerous appearances on regional radio had him getting interviewed by the good farmers of the region. Walking through the fields he has formed the necessary conclusion that they do not want to be serviced by big red business interests.
“Well, having just paid for it I will serve you, thank you. I’ve been so busy delivering the American newspapers in this region of Burgundy, I haven’t had time to read my own .But when you have got fresh vegetables you don’t eat anything else so I just said no . They said, ‘that’s because it is in the best growing area of all the south-eastern provinces and therefore being brought to the local farmers in order to be able to meet market’s demands’ and I told them to call me the perfect tailor.”
This quiet moment is captured with a gallery of tinkerers wearing everything from energy-efficient cafetière to double suits and tall hats , and still the interview continues at a great pace. Colomb is a master craftsman, producing various works of art from meticulously crocheted hats to tailor-made clothing of various kinds. Colomb eventually arrives after a long drive through the beautifully-preserved beauty of the southwestern region of France.
Somewhere nearby, several buildings were destroyed by fires. Right after Columb lost his chance to see the city of Carcassonne, he was told by his employers that at midnight he had to go to the bar of his golf club to enjoy the drinks and converse with the guests. They told him that he could stay but not speak, this could help avoid any trouble of he encountered in the streets.
“I was asked to go to the bar of Waterville, where everybody knew me, it was good, and to enjoy the drinks. When I arrived I met the other chefs and waiters who knew me very well. I was the only one who had to sit silently. I waited some time to return to my table and eat the food and drink the champagne. After all that, I finally arrived to my cabin. So what happened? “
“Before I arrived they had given me the answer of, the hotel was not occupied. After doing some study, I found that I did not have to sign any papers and therefore I continued with the dinner.”
The conversation continues. Columb is interviewed by journalists from around the world, but on this great night in Burgundy he does not fear publicity.
“If I die and come out of this room you will write it in an article, but the important thing is that I love what I do and if I have to be there in the morning, you will not see another guest there .
“This country is the most beautiful in the world. Not only do I work in the most beautiful place of my life, I am there with the most lovely people. To have said this is the greatest achievement of my life.”
Despite some suggestions that Colomb’s success as a farmer and television presenter signifies an anti-globalization cultural backlash, it is the sophistication of the other options in Paris that has made the tourist industry vulnerable to the Brexit slowdown. For Colomb’s bistro, the market has been brought down to the level of Burgundy; even I can’t believe what I’ve just seen.