(AFP) – May 5, 2008
PARIS (AFP) — A speech-writer for France's foreign minister has penned a literary, lustful and possibly lecherous "Guide to the Pretty Women of Paris" which blows a loud raspberry at political correctness.
"Just as every region has its gastronomy, every quartier has its feminine speciality," writes Pierre-Louis Colin, a dapper 34-year-old who co-authored Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner's most recent book.
"You do not find in Menilmontant the sublime legs you see at the Madeleine. But you do find perfectly shameless cleavages, radiant breasts often uncluttered by a bra," he said in his own book, which was published last month.
Paris is the most visited capital in the world and people come here to see city's magnificent women as much as they come to admire the Mona Lisa and the Eiffel Tower, Colin told AFP.
He could find no guidebooks to the human wonders of Paris so he decided to produce his own. The result is the 190-page "Guide des jolies femmes de Paris," which is more of a literary essay than a fact-packed guidebook.
Area by area, Colin notes the best observation posts -- bars, supermarkets, parks, museums, metro trains -- and the best times of day for the connoisseur to contemplate various Parisienne archetypes.
"Trendy youth," characterised by the "generalisation of the G-string and the near disappearance of the bra" is to be seen on rue Montorgueil, a pedestrian strip of cafés and upmarket food shops which the author hails as the "epicentre of the city's erotic radiations."
Luxury boutiques and elegant café terraces are the natural habitat of the leisured bourgeois, who is described as "the mother of all fantasies since the origins of literature".
Women in the "saucy maturity" category, those aged between 40 and 60 whose appearance "bears witness to the meanders of an agitated or ambitious sex life which refuses to lay down its weapons," are best observed in lingerie stores.
The author, a graduate of the elite Ecole Normale Superieure which has honed writers like Jean-Paul Sartre, sees his work as a "high mission" to counter the mood of a righteous America, but some extracts may raise eyebrows.
Colin regrets, for instance, it is no longer possible to loiter contemplatively outside high schools because "current legislation and a certain form of collective psychosis have created a climate of suspicion that makes every admirer of young girls a rapist of children".
He also gives many tips such as where to position oneself so as to get an "unbeatable view" up women's skirts as they climb a spiral staircase -- singling out the Café Louis-Philippe in the fourth arrondissement, or district.
But it's all in the best possible taste, insists Colin.
He rejected suggestions that an alternative title for his oeuvre might have been the "Voyeur's Guide to the Pretty Women of Paris" -- though concedes his girlfriend was at first perturbed by the idea of his book, but later came to like it.
The author points out that he has not included any suggestions on how to pick up women, nor provided the addresses of any of Paris' numerous dens of iniquity.
"To contemplate is not to encounter," he writes in his introduction. "Therein lies without doubt, the profound originality of the contemplator in these consumerist times: his aim is not possession.
"He is similar to those rare lovers of art who visit museums without feeling obliged to walk out loaded down with guidebooks or postcards," wrote Colin.
During an interview in the Café de L'Esplanade -- which the author said was of note more for its busty waitresses than for its sober clientele -- Colin insisted his book was a celebration of women's freedom.
"I oppose all those who want to restrict women -- the priest, the man who pesters women, the censor," he said.
He dismisses Anglo-Saxon political correctness and boldly states that the freedom to contemplate the beauty of women is a key part of French culture.
"In this troubled century, while from America come the echoes of another moral order, the responsibility of the contemplator is immense: in his respectful courtesy depends a part of the survival of our civilisation of liberty, of gentleness, and of grace.
"May this guide contribute to the success of this high mission," Colin wrote.
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