When you mention the idea of running a marathon for charity in France and ask for sponsorship, at best you are greeted with utter bemusement and at worse outright suspicion. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that I was raising money for a charity outside of France and that they are faithful followers of the 'charity begins at home' mantra.
The reality is that when you line up to do a marathon in Paris, all the people wearing charity vests or dressed like a chicken or Scooby-doo tend to be foreigners running for good causes. And the ones in the running vests and the latest lycra ensembles aiming for personal bests tend to be the French.
Maybe the French are just as adverse to putting their hand in their pockets for charity as they are for getting their round in in the pub! Or perhaps the French don't do charity because they already contribute a lot through their taxes that they feel the government should take care of those less fortunate.
Although it feels like you are paying off a large chunk of the world's debt when the taxes leave our accounts here surely they should realise that there are limits to what these can pay for. They just have to look at the lines of people queuing up at the soup kitchens or food distribution centres in Paris to see how important the work of charities are.
Whilst it’s not ideal that in Britain the state is often forced to rely on charities in order to provide vital services that they can't afford, that’s the reality of the times we live in. The great thing about charities is that you can choose who to give your money to rather than leaving that choice to the government.
Since I have lived here I have met some of the kindest, most generous and most hospitable people that I have ever met but I have definitely come across some of the stingiest and tightest too.
The French should open up more to the idea of charity, and more to the point if they, or any of their friends, family or colleagues are going to put their bodies through the sort of pain that comes with running for 26 miles or 42 kilometres then why not do it for a good cause!
(Gavid Doughty, centre pictured after running the Amsterdam marathon with friends Rudy Blankert, left, and Kwame Amaning)
Do you agree with Gavin Doughty that the French don't do charity? Continue the debate in the comments section below.
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