Another French Paradox?

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PARIS, France — Despite a worldwide economic downturn that has battered the hospitality industry the past three years, it seems restaurateurs here in the land of stinky cheese and even more malodorous armpits have somehow managed to buck the downward trend and thrive.

How else to explain why at the end of every meal at virtually every eating establishment I've visited over the past week in the City of Lights, I've literally had to beg the wait staff to bring me my bill?

Hell, it's like they don't even care if you pay at all in Paris. Any more than they seem to care about providing decent service and/or making an effort to mask their complete and utter disdain for you and everything you represent, you ugly American pig-dog.

For instance, at the famed (and albeit touristy) Café des 2 Moulins in Montmartre, I had to raise my hand and make the "I'm inexplicably scrawling my name in the air with an invisible writing utensil because I'd like to pay, please" gesture no fewer than FIVE times before the waiter finally acknowledged that he might possibly get to me as soon as he finished smoking a few more cigarettes.

And this despite the fact that I was considerate enough to ask for "le check," a gesture intended to ease any embarrassment the server might have felt over not being able to speak English.

But look, despite all their eye-rolling scorn, I'm not here to bag on the French (or, better yet, "baguette" on them). I'm here to tell you about my visit to Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte in Epernay, which was, in a spitefully chosen non-French word, espléndido.

It's a lovely place, Epernay. If you've not been, I highly recommend a visit. Particularly if you can do so on a champagne producer's dime, as I did. That right there is what's known in the writing profession as "full disclosure," a concept designed to help alleviate feelings of guilt associated with violating such basic canons of journalism as accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability.

(Having said that, I feel better already about being on an all-expenses-paid junket across the pond. Hopefully you do too.)

So where was I? Ah, yes, offering up a wholly unbiased assessment of Nicolas Feuillatte, fermented grape juice of such incredibly high quality that it might best be described — in a word used quite regularly in these parts for a few years prior to U.S. forces storming the beaches of Normandy — wunderbar!

Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte turns 35 this year; a babe in the woods compared to other leading bubbly brands, most of which have been around for a century or more. Nic is the skinny jeans to Moet & Chandon's pantaloons, if you will.

But youth certainly hasn't been a hindrance in a category with such a long and rich tradition. On the contrary, Feuillatte, which offers delicious sparkling wine at affordable prices, is now the #1-selling champagne in France, with an eye towards conquering the U.S. market as well.

Let's just hope they don't bring any of those lousy waiters along with them.

Bien joué, la France!

The mega-watt celebrity Dan Dunn's book Living Loaded: Tales of Sex, Salvation and the Pursuit of the Never-Ending Happy Hour is available wherever books are sold. Follow Dan on Twitter and Facebook, and hear him on The Imbiber Show podcast.