C’est si bon! Joanna Lumley falling in love with Paris is the pick-me-up TV we all need

Joanna Lumley poses with performers at the Moulin Rouge - Getty
Joanna Lumley poses with performers at the Moulin Rouge - Getty

Bonjour, my gorgeous darlings. We’re watching Joanna Lumley’s Great Cities of the World (ITV), and this first episode is in Paris. Oh, it’s heavenly. Divine. Just look at the fabulous architecture, the beautiful people, the scrumptious food. Smell the romance!

I was reading recently about a celebrity service called Cameo, in which famous people sell personalised video messages (£188 for Britt Ekland, £524 for Richard Dreyfuss, a bargain £41 for Tony Blackburn). Lumley could surely clean up. A few uplifting words from her and you’d be walking on air. Just look at how she talks to her friends: in this programme she had lunch with heiress Daphne Guinness (who isn’t very French, but we’ll let that pass) and told her, apropos of nothing: “You’ve always been dazzlingly beautiful. You’re made of beauty and gorgeousness.”

Lumley swoons over everything, from the Shakespeare and Company bookshop: “Gosh, I adore books,” to a bowl of soup in the Michelin-starred Pavillon Ledoyen: “It’s divine, it looks like a little pond.” Surveying Paris from a hot air balloon: “Gosh, this city just tears your heart, it’s so gorgeous.” She has been madly in love with the place since her modelling days in the Sixties, when her dream was that “one day somebody would mistake me for a French woman, and that would be the greatest compliment in the world”.

She is certainly chic enough, but hasn’t yet mastered the behaviour. A French comedian, Olivier Giraud, gave her some tips. “If it’s cold, you wear a scarf. If it’s hot, you wear a scarf.” And how to attract a waiter’s attention: “Be rude. If you’re nice, you’re going to wait half an hour for coffee.”

Lumley did the sorts of quirky things that Michael Portillo might do – met a group of breakdancers, visited the grave of Victor Hugo, chatted to asylum seekers being trained as urban beekeepers – and the obvious things, such as visiting Notre Dame (mid-rebuild) and the Moulin Rouge. She approached all with genuine interest and good humour, as she did when meeting a woman who described the appeal of extramarital affairs in the most French way possible: “In the boulangerie there are lots of cakes, but you’ve only ever tasted chocolate éclairs. But then there’s an apple tart, a pear tart…”

Did I pick up any useful information for a trip to Paris? Only that the hot air balloon is a reasonable 15 euros, and directions to a boutique that sells vintage Chanel for a good deal more. The programme was light as a soufflé, but no worse for that.