I don't know if you've ever been invited to a happy French family dinner and been surprised when at the end of the meal, the discussion becomes so heated that you began to wonder whether they weren't going to draw pistols at dawn.
From the outside, especially to someone who doesn't understand the language, you may often be forgiven for thinking that a full blown row is going on at the end of a simple meal; that two lifetime friends have fallen out irreconcilably; that a teacher and pupil would never be able to be in the same room again. But no, there is nothing serious, they just love to philosophise, to debate. "Refaire le monde".
The French are never shy about talking about philo, indeed a leading French figure is Bernard Henri-Levy, writer, philosopher, with a glamorous film star wife and always available when an opinion is required or a debate needs fuelling.
Philosophy is to my mind a very elitist subject, remote even. But I am not French. What you have to know is that this Thursday, thousands of baccalaureate students will be sitting the obligatory philo exam. Yes, that's right - in France if you want to take the Baccalaureate then philosophy is a non-negotiable subject. It's one of the reasons that the French students emerge from high school with such a well-rounded education.
So right now, while many a French teenager is poring over Kant, Rousseau, Hegel and Freud - I'm simply glad it's not me!
PS Don't forget to link up to my previous post with your favourite waterside picture!