April in Paris:vive le français It must be nearly 25 years since I was last forcefed irregular verb endings by overenthusiastic French teachers. I suspect Jean-Paul and Marie-France from my school textbook must be grown up by now with kids of their own, no doubt still busy "jouent dans le jardin" or "préparent le petit déjeuner". Thankfully I still remembered sufficient vocabulary to survive my ten hour walk around Paris yesterday virtually unscathed. Even when a written phrase was bizarrely unfamiliar ("en cas d'affluence ne pas utiliser les strapontins") there was usually a pictorial clue to help me to deduce the true meaning. I must have looked so convincingly confident that several people came up to me during the day to ask for directions, including one animated gentleman who approached me within five minutes of leaving Gare du Nord station. All those French lessons spent roleplaying "en ville" might have proved useful ("le boulangerie, mais oui, c'est la deuxième à droite"), except that I didn't have a clue about what he was asking so all I could do was mumble an apologetic "pardon" and move on. In fact, to be totally honest, what I actually said in the heat of the moment was "sorry, dunno", a poor Englishman's excuse for geographical and linguistic ignorance. I know that most Parisians speak fluent English, but my French teachers would have been so very disappointed.