Through a cloud of smoke over coffee (mine may have been a beer) at the Lutetia hotel, once home to the Gestapo, Benjamin Biolay, a sort of latter-day Serge Gainsbourg, gave me the lowdown on French pop: "Mostly, it's just crap."
Only the most kindly of Francophile would have raised strong objection to the sentiment, certainly at the time it was expressed five years ago.
In fact, there is nothing too much wrong with the old classics of Variété française that still get people of all ages singing along with every word.
The problem has usually been when French singers and bands have tried to present themselves as capable of offering a sound to rival British and American rock. With honourable exceptions, who may include Biolay, they can't - however eloquently my electronic pal Robb Johnson advances the cause of Johnny Hallyday.
Step forward, on the main beach of Le Lavandou, another candidate for honourable exception status.
Last night Olivia Ruiz had a crowd that could have numbered anything from 20,000 to 30,000 on the sand, or watching from the promenade, enthralled as she gave a superb, warm, high-energy and - let's be honest - seductive free show courtesy of the town hall and RTL radio.
"Sit down", "sit down", chanted the section of the crowd starting about 100 metres back from the stage. In vain. In the event everyone stood. Some pressed forward to be closer. "Stop pushing," a man shouted, "there'll be 200 dead if you carry on like that."
After a decent stab by an acoustic duo filling the dreaded warm-up slot, Ruiz was punctually on stage and racing through her mostly French repertoire with the odd English or Spanish song thrown in, impeccably backed by an eight-piece band.
You may or may not like La Femme Chocolat, which she sings in the clip, but the French-speaking world adores it, and this audience accepted Ruiz's invitation to continue singing the refrain after she had stopped. "Olivia, je t'aime," cried the young mec just behind me, and he probably meant it.
Jimmy Cliff, on the same beach three years ago, was more electrifying. Olivia Ruiz undoubtedy struggles, as other Francophone artists have struggled before her, to make her music travel (except, I assume, to Quebec), language being a sturdy barrier. But this would have been a terrific concert even if you'd had to pay for it.
Over to you Monsieur Biolay.