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

  • grouillot

    (minion)
    Etymology: from groule, an apprentice who must se grouiller, rush around on errands.

    Mais enfin je ne suis pas tout à fait le grouillot de service.
      --Anne Baldassari, fired as director of the Picasso Museum, on reports that she might be asked to supervise the hanging of the paintings for the (very eventual) reopening of the Museum.

Who's en colère today?

Go back to school in Paris!

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" Embassy duty. I always wonder if this is what happens when you displease your superior. "
No, it is what happens when you are on the last ranks of results at the national "concours" to enter the police force. The first ranks can choose their job and the last ones take what is left ie embassy duty.
Fot the death, police is still a safe job compared to construction worker, and I mean percentage of death.

Maxine is right, you get the Embassy or Elysée duty when you don't do well on the national exam. A friend of mine's husband did it for 2 years on the night shift and said it was terrible (boring and really hard on his back).

And same with the ones you see on the streets - they are all young because they are the newbies straight out of school. It's hard work, and most move to another post as soon as they can.

Also, historically-speaking, most of the Parisian cops came from outside of Paris so that they would be less likely to unite and rise up against the government (to fight for a city that was not their own). That is why they are the National Police and not Municipal police. As a side note, Municipal police handle towns with more than 10-20,000 people and the gendarmes handle the towns under 10-20,000 and the countryside.

PS. Just so you know, you're allowed to take pictures of French police, CRS, etc, but you're not really supposed to post them online because of 'droit à l'image'. Journalists get an exception though if the picture is useful for showing un événement d'actualité.

Thanks Sam and Maxine! I've always wondered who gets stuck with that job. Also thank you Sam for the clarifications! I never knew all that. As for the photos, they're from Flickr/Creative Commons where a lot more people will see them than here; but I guess I could blur the faces if anyone complained. Anyway isn't a blog journalism? ;)

Do they still have police on roller skates? When I lived in Paris I would often see them in tourist areas - a pickpocket had to be very fleet indeed to elude them. And they were always young and looked like they LOVED their work! [Good grades?]

Hi Nan! They definitely still have them. They're perfect for all the pedestrian zones and tourist areas. They love nothing better than going after a perp-- I have seen them grinning as they take off. I wonder if they just have to pass a test for fitness, or something else too? There are always at least two of them, though. I've never seen one alone.

I've seen them on Segways as well (Rueil-Malmaison)

Really? How funny! I tend to assume everyone I see on a Segway here is an American tourist.

Where do they go?

I have no idea where they were going, but they were along the race course (2 of them togather, of course) for the Rueil-Malmaison Semi-Marathon,s oi presume they were acting as security for it. They were right across from the church where Josephine and Hortense are buried, so maybe they were guarding it?

Actually, the blue vans (like the one on your picture in the background) are from the Gendarmerie Mobile, the riot and more military-oriented units of the Gendarmerie Nationale. They were created to handle worker unions riots after the use of military units for crowd control went sideways and resulted in many deaths (in the 1800s). The use blue vehicles like the rest of the Gendarmerie.
The CRS have white vans (like the rest of the Police forces)and a slightly different uniform with the white CRS crest on them.

Oh, thanks Aurélien! I'm not that well-informed on my police and gendarmes, obviously... merci!

I definitely see the blue vans around more than the white ones.

Just an aside to something noted above about police municipale in towns with a certain population and "gendarmes for the smaller towns"... some smaller towns are now policed by "Police Rurale".

I wonder if other countries have so many different kinds of police!

Why is being a cop so easy in Paris? Our cops are always begging for money each election as they are "short-staffed." I would say the city I live in is pretty safe, but then again we recently had a school shooting in one of the suburbs (second one in the state's history). Anyway, it seems the money they get has been going towards retrofitting their cars with GPS, iPads, and themselves with portable videocameras (I support this).

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Today's quotation

  • Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.

      --Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Le petit aperçu d'Ailleurs

  • The cheminots or employees of the SNCF (French national trains, toujours eux) go on strike so often that there is now a card game called the "Cheminot Simulator," in which the goal is to cause as much grief to passengers as possible.

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