Maîtres mots

  • Il y a longtemps que notre pays est beau mais rude.

       --Newspaper editor Olivier Séguret, 25 January 2012

    The USA are entirely the creation of the accursed race, the French.

       --Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966), writing to Nancy Mitford, 22 May 1957

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French Freedom of Speech

Today the cheminots are:


  • "À nous de vous faire préférer le train!"
    "Voyager autrement"
    "Avec le SNCF, tout est possible"
      --Former ad slogans of the SNCF (French national trains), each in turn quickly dropped

Fun French words

  • ouistiti

    (literally: marmoset)
    Etymology: onomatopoeia from the sound a marmoset makes. Actual meaning: this is what you say in France when you want people to smile for the camera.

    Selon une étude réalisée par le fabricant d’appareils photo Nikon, le « ouistiti » utilisé en France au moment de se faire prendre en photo est le petit mot le plus efficace pour s’assurer un joli sourire.

Who's en colère today?

  • Private sector

    First strike in 43 years at an aeronautics company in Toulouse, Latécoère


    Public sector

    The SNCF (toujours eux), regional train employees in the Lyons area guaranteeing unpleasant travel from the 17th-21st December
    Also yet another strike by Sud-Rail, a particularly truculent SNCF union in the south of France, this time five days in January: 6,7, 21, 22 and 23. "We have no choice." Right.

    Marseilles trams on strike until February

Go back to school in Paris!

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just recently started reading your blog and thought i should say hello. so hello! as a newcomer to france i have been gleaning much helpful information from you. i knew the soldes were bi-annual, but i had no idea they weren't allowed to have them any other times than that. although here in corsica, the end of the summer sales are a bit later than july. and they have lunch from 12-14h, but certainly all conforming nonetheless.

My husband says the sales are all at the same time so that it's fair for the small merchants. He hasn't been able to further elaborate, though. :-)

Hello,
I really enjoy your blog! :)
Just one thing about lunch time.
Personally, as a frenchman, i think it is not a question than everybody have lunch at the same time. I think it is a question of balance (in health meaning).
It's a tradition and it preserve you to eat all the time, at 13h, 15h, 16h, 18h and have a real lunch, three times per day. It is more like sleeping. I mean that it is not very good to break your biological clock.

sorry i'm not very sure about my english skill... :)

From Sedulia:

I'm sure you are right about eating regular meals. I just think it's funny that it is always 13h! All the same, I hope the French keep their wonderful traditions about food and que tout se passe autour de la table pour toujours.

While growing up, lunch time in our family was always noon.

In school (I always had lunch à la cantine), lunch was served between 11h30 and 13h30... Then we had until 14h to digest. Classes started back only then! (only in France do you get 2 hours of break to eat lunch!)

I always thought they only had 'les soldes' at certain times to protect small businesses. In the US, big stores can afford to lose some money in the short-term by offering lots of sales, then small stores go under (aka: the Wal-Mart effect). So regulating when they happen is sort of 'leveling the playing field'.
But then I read an article in the IHT recently that said that they had sales only at certain times of the year to create a frenzy of shopping, so that stores could clear out merchandise quickly (they also explained the difference between 'solde' and 'promotion', which I never understood.)

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Today's quotation

  • In Paris, the purest virtue is the object of the filthiest slander.

      –Honoré Balzac (1799-1850), in Scènes de la vie privée

    À Paris, la vertu la plus pure est l'objet des plus sales calomnies.

Le petit aperçu d'Ailleurs

  • Annual Geminids meteor shower (shooting stars!) coming this weekend, if it's not too cloudy out at night.

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