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

  • rafler la mise

    (to upstage someone; to "clean out")
    Etymology: from rafle, what is left on the stem after grapes or grain has been picked, and mise, what has been set out

    Des clientèles très diverses, trois réseaux de distribution, pléthore de marques : sur ce marché compliqué, L'Oréal rafle la mise.

Who's en colère today?

  • Private sector

    Public sector

    Post office workers in Ajaccio, the capital of Corsica, who have been on strike for more than two months. Guess which union!

    SNCF (French national trains, toujours eux) workers on line from Paris to Beauvais (Ryanair's distant "Paris" airport). Guess which union!

Go back to school in Paris!

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« The king is dead. Vive le roi! | Main | Quai d'Orsay, the cartoon »


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Everyday in the morning paper there's more and more about la gastro and every time I think to myself how people just need to wash their hands more. Really they do.

(I hope I didn't just jinx myself and wind up with the flu soon!)

Do you know if they do flu shots here?

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Today's quotation

  • In 530 [BCE] their [the Persians'] great king Cyrus died in an aggressive war against a tribal army out east in central Asia beyond the river Oxus. The Greek historian Herodotus claimed to know at least seven Persian versions of Cyrus' death, but the one which he chose to tell had none of the others' solemnity. Cyrus' opponent, he wrote, the tribal queen Tomyris, had taunted him for being "insatiable for blood." When he attacked her army and was killed, she proved her point by filling a bag with blood, hunting for King Cyrus' corpse and stuffing its head into the bag to give it more of the blood it had craved.

      --Robin Lane Fox (1946- ), British historian, in The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian (publ. 2006)

Le petit aperçu d'Ailleurs

  • India reports that Chinese troops have entered 30 km into India. The territory of north Ladakh is claimed by both countries.

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