I have eaten many blackbirds during happy years spent in France where my best friend, Madame Bué, would frequently stuff them with sultanas, drizzle with cognac and roast in the the oven. I was a bad guest mostly and would arrive late for lunch every Sunday when the blackbirds had waited a bit too long in the oven and were, ahem, let us say, singed.
On a summer's day in July, we leave behind a rain-flustered London in the middle of an otherworldly thunderstorm following Britain's hottest day in years. The train speeds through English countryside until we're in the darkness of the Eurotunnel, and then - in what seems like the blink of an eye - we find ourselves on French soil.
Although in the UK, we have seen a number of mosques attacked since Woolwich, the steady rise in anti-Muslim hate perpetuated across Europe, has led to an increase in anti-Muslim prejudice and discrimination. According to the rector of Lyon's main mosque, France is witnessing a new "climate of Islamophobia."
On Sunday, the English cyclist Chris Froome swept down the Champs-Élysées to win the 100th Tour de France. He is only the second ever Englishman to carry off the famous yellow jersey, following Bradley Wiggins' triumph last year. But as Froome's fans shout 'allez!' the youth of France are more likely to be crying to each other 'barrez'; which roughly translates as 'scram', 'beat it', 'get out of here'... An open letter published in Le Point magazine by a Sorbonne student called 'Clare G' claimed that half of 18 to 34-year-olds would leave France.