As France's Towns Wither, Fears of a Decline in Frenchness (New York Times)
This article is absolutely spot on. Using the provincial town of Albi (in South West France), the writer shows that French regional towns are losing their heart and soul. As shops close, life empties itself from them. It is the same in many places. There are still shops, but they are on the outskirts, in big malls - France has the highest density of malls in Europe (or even small ones: in my home village, a supermarket opened slightly outside the city centre, where footfall has now massively declined). People don't go to independent stores, they don't go to the boucherie, or the fromagerie, or the patisserie anymore: they drive to the hypermarket - sometimes only to go and collect their online shopping (it's called going to the "drive"). And even though they brought it on by changing their behaviour, they complain things have changed and the world is changing too fast. Depressing.
42nd Street at Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Where are you ever gonna see a chorus line of 40 performers? Where? Nowhere else in the West End. So just go see this no-expenses-spared production of the musical 42nd Street.
Just the opening was enough to make my jaw drop. And when they brought out the stairs, the bright lights, the snazzy costumes, and the crazy tap dancing for the iconic finale, I was in another world. Absolutely top class.