My French friend Martine has been elected mayor of her small commune and everyone for miles around is thrilled for her. On Friday evening, Biff (on loan for the weekend) and I drive to her village to watch the inauguration ceremony. It takes place in a tiny mairie, consisting of one room with a flagstone floor and sunshine yellow paintwork around the door frames and windows.
Applying her signature scarlet lipstick before the ceremony, Martine jokes that she must keep up appearances as at least one elderly lady in her village voted for her because she always wears high heels. But the real reason is that she will make a fantastic mayor and everyone knows it.
As the former incumbent hands over the red, white and blue mayoral sash, and Martine poses for pictures in front of the fireplace, next to the mandatory picture of Nicolas Sarkozy and her tricolour hat (specially commissioned from her milliner in Niort), I feel hugely proud.
Afterwards, we all go for an aperitif at Chez Jean Paul, the village cafe, which is decorated in a charming French style that few would believe still existed. With its brothel red lighting and bohemian array of bric-a-brac including an old wooden easel with oil painting centre stage, the ambiance is effortlessly quirky and chaleureuse. As Biff nibbles at the shoes of the former mayor, I think how fashionable restaurateurs in London would pay a small fortune for an interior designer to create a decor as effortlessly chic as this.