The search for an obese French man or woman began in Paris, travelled to Nice, Monaco, Menton and then various locations in Provence, focused largely on the Luberon. While occasionally distracted by other things, such as menu translations (“try our big balls” referring to ice cream or “our special hand made paste” referring to pasta) and signs in hotels (“it is compulsory to be dressed well in the dining room” and “extra charges for manifestations”), we were relentless in our search during our three week journey.
We thought it was all over on the first day in Nice when we saw a large girthed man with man-boobs bigger than any of the topless women on the same beach. Turned out to be a Texan trying to get to grips with the etiquette of the private beach, he ended up kissing everyone on each facial cheek. Another sighting of a large person, this time female, in Beaulieu turned out to be a Welsh woman from Llangollen desperately looking for faggots and peas. She had to make do with caillette’s and petit pois –the French version of the same thing.
One reason it is so difficult to find an obese French person is that there are so many ways in which they burn up calories. Just watch them speak – they get upper body exercise through the use of the hands and their body language overall uses 30 calories a sentence. Then there is the weight loss during driving and the even greater weight loss while seeking, finding and then securing (against determined opposition) a parking space. I myself lost over five pounds just from these activities, most in Monaco and Apt.
Other activities also eat up calories: daily shopping for bread (50 calories), arguing and then choosing an appropriate wine (30 calories), trying to find other ways of insulting the English and Germans (70 calories) and finally playing boules (between 100 and 500 calories, depending on the intensity of the game, the age of the players and the gullibility of their opponents – the more gullible, the less calories used).
Systematic observation of the French during the last three weeks also tells me that the French actually lose weight while eating. Take dinner, which starts late and ends close to the next day, is an elaborate affair usually involving up to seven courses. The arguments about the quality of the food, the right wine parings, the best combination of food on the fork, the argument about what’s in the sauce, the choice of cheeses, the decision about which desert best compliments the meal and finally what alcoholic digestive best finishes the meal all burn up so much calories that those consumed during the meal are outweighed by those used up in the process of consumption.
We passed and observed thousands of French people – almost none were fat and absolutely none were obese. The largest people we saw and talked to were Americans and British. Spend enough time in France and lose weight!