Any wonder the likely new president of France, Emmanuel Macron, cannot conceal his excitement at thought of coming to power. The president of France has great executive power, with all the regal trappings as if he is the king whose head they, the people, guillotined in 1793, in one of the world's finest cities with a storied past.
Hear the clamour of 1793 Paris streets lined with cheering citizens as Louis XVI's horse-drawn cart clattered over cobblestones on the way to the guillotine. See him, a rather plump man of yet regal dignity in his last moments. The drums drown out his last words, having previously asked if any news of La Perouse the great French navigator long overdue on his return from a voyage around the globe.
Unless Marine le Pen shocks the world and beats Macron, he and his much older schoolteacher wife will step into a Paris palace and live an entirely different life. Makes you understand why his fiery speeches are thunderous at times. He can smell the power.
He's stepping into Napoleon's shoes, if in a less self-glorified manner and, of course, in very different times. We have on our apartment passageway wall a graph showing how Napoleon departed France with 400,000 men to go conquer Russia; and came back with just 4000, a defeat in any language.
But the French remember Napoleon with more respect than contempt. In their funny, ambiguous, often contradictory way, the French remember and revere a lot of their presidents Every head is turned towards central government, that being Paris, itself a country within one.
The city that has something for everyone, including the millions of tourists. A lot for the rich and the political elite and right at the top sits the president. Not even the outgoing unpopular Francois Hollande will be forgotten. Ex-presidents stay living like slightly downgraded kings till they die. In New Zealand, no-one gives a damn about anyone of ex-status, from prime ministers to All Blacks.
Of past presidents, none looms larger than Charles de Gaulle. If you wonder how a man became a hero during WWII while exiled in London and not firing a shot in anger, keep it to yourself - or risk incurring the wrath of the French. In his victory speech following France's liberation by Allied forces, not least the Americans, de Gaulle made not a mention of his nation's saviours. C'est la France.
Thousands of streets and avenues and squares deservedly bear his name as he turned out a truly great leader of France. Hitler turned up in this city in all his imperialistic arrogance and declared the country Germany's. When, years later, his war had turned to custard, the spiteful little monster wanted the world's most beautiful city razed to the ground. Fortunately, the German general told to carry out this monstrous order refused.
See poor Marie Antoinette in the open cart taking her to the guillotine. The poor woman guilty of no more than being Louis XVI's child bride, Austrian, a spendthrift with a lover due to her husband's indifference to copulation. Today, she would get one year's home detention and a court order to receive counselling on how to budget.
Macron and his wife will reside at Elysee Palace. She comes from a well-off family and he is an ex-Rothschild banker of reasonable means. But the life soon to come is the pauper's in the palace scenario, literally and symbolically. They won't know what hit them.
Newcomers beware. Waiting for you is your expectant nation. And then there are Paris' citizens, a people unto themselves: fickle, contradictory, grumpy, irrational, cantankerous, plotting. La Perouse felt uncomfortable visiting the king at Versailles, due to the courtiers giving off the permanent heat of their scheming minds. (By the way: Louis XVI's question was not answered until 1964 when a New Zealand diver came across La Perouse's shipwreck in the waters of Vanikoro in the Solomon Islands.)
Yet the thinking populace of France reckon he'll make a good president. It's just that French voters can intoxicate then humiliate the best, elevate the mediocre to celebrity status, turn on a good leader, in retrospect reinstate his memory. That's the French.
Paris has long been up itself, corrupted on its sense of superiority. Yet everyone keeps coming back for more because it's Paris.