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Fin de saison (end of summer) is a perfect time to visit Perpignan in southwest France, even if that notorious tramontane puffs sand in your face on the beach or blows you off your bike. This northwesterly wind is in fact a milder version of the infamous mistral which I well remember interrupting langorous summers in Provence. Luckily the tramontane only visits occasionally, blasting the sky a clear blue to leave a toasty autumnal sun and golden light.


I started writing this while police were besieging the two Charlie Hebdo murderers: their last stand. The tension was high voltage – though sometimes it felt like the final act of a bad movie. Yet what has emerged from the blood, horror and grief is a sure sense of Parisian identity, anchored in solidarity – expressed in yesterday’s historic march. Unfortunately it looks like relations with the Muslim community will be put on trial in the absence of the killers themselves, now dead. But the point of this blog post is other.