samedi 24 février 2007

Tall French Women

I’m frequently amazed at how many extremely tall women I see here in Lille. In the UK, every now and then, you’ll see a girl who’s pushing 5’10” or so and, of course, the occasional one even taller but there is a genuine difference between this and the far higher frequency of seeing extraordinarily tall girls here. Before I came to France, if you’d asked me to list things which I thought would be noticeably different between there and here, I’d never have come up with that one!

I’m talking about the regular sight of women several inches taller than my own 6’0”. Women so tall that you instinctively look at their shoes, expecting to see enormously high stilettos or chunky Spice-Boots but, no, just a pair of flat shoes or trainers with an often impressive and statuesque girl walking around in them. I’ve stood in queues, waiting for a sandwich or whatever, looking, in awe, at the woman in front of me, towering up to 5” above me. With or without having read this, it’s a phenomenon you’d notice for yourself after any length of time here. As striking as these girls can be, it must be difficult for them from time to time but I’ve seen several who don’t seem to be put out by the fact that the guy they’re arm in arm with is at their shoulder height. Why should it matter? It doesn’t, of course, but a couple like that can still be a “different” enough sight to make one do a double-take.

A Parisian colleague of mine told me that it’s very much a regional thing which she, too, had noticed fairly quickly after her move here. Unfortunately, I don’t have a truly representative photo to illustrate the point (yet) so, in the absence of anything more appropriate, I’ve added one of Maman with some of the traditional ceremonial giants (Géants) of Arras. Many towns in the area apparently have effigies such as these for good luck or protection or whatever. Lille’s own Géants were wheeled out for a ceremony I witnessed in the Autumn. Maybe they got the idea whilst waiting for a sandwich ;o)

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