I've always loved the soft packets, the yielding pouchiness of which contrasted with the stiff and fussy little boxes we have over here. Just buying a pack of clop at a tabac was a commitment to a world view, the embrace of continental values that at the time seemed sexier, cleverer, more adult. And still do.
This was in the late 1970s. Britain had the Carry On films, but the French, the French had the nouvelle vague. We had shrieking trollops like Barbara Windsor; they had Bernadette Lafont, for heaven's sake. We had Professor Magnus Pike and David Bellamy, they had Sartre and Barthes. We had Lambert and Butler and John Player and Kensitas; they had Gitanes and Gauloises Disques Bleu.
I remember back in the early 1980s the skinny students of the Marcel Marceau school of mime on the rue René-Boulanger in Paris, huddled around outside between classes, all smoking (rather than pretending to smoke), in their leggings and leotards. The school closed permanently in 2005. Ah me.