On a sunny spring morning on the Left Bank, le tout Paris has turned out in finest funereal chic to mourn a national treasure, Jean-Pierre Pernaut, who has died of lung cancer at the age of 71. A hero of the French hinterland, he presented the lunchtime television news for more than three decades and was famous for rushing through grim world events to dwell lovingly on stories about shellfish, terroir and cheese.
“Look, there’s Sarko!” says an onlooker behind a metal barrier outside the Sainte-Clotilde church. The former president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has just arrived with his wife, Carla Bruni, the singer and former supermodel, her face obscured by a dark scarf and large sunglasses. Then an elegant blonde woman appears in a long black