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

  • bigarré

    Etymology: unknown.

    Avec le public bigarré du festival, des familles, des jeunes alcoolisés et des amoureux de la royauté britannique, vous sortez votre briquet pour entonner un Candle in the Wind déchirant avec Sir Elton John.

Who's en colère today?

  • Private sector

    Pro-Palestine demonstrators in Paris. Two big demonstrations are planned for Wednesday 23 July and Saturday 26 July.

    Drivers for car services, protesting a new measure to be voted on this Wednesday that would oblige them to return to their home base or off-street parking after every fare. The measure is meant to kill Uber and other such taxi competitors. Paris has far fewer taxis per capita than other world capitals, the metro closes at night, but Uber must be killed, because protectionism. Here's some more info on this issue.

    Corsican CGT union workers at the Schindler elevator factory, on strike since April 22. They want to be paid the same subsidy as their colleagues in Paris. The company says Paris is much more expensive than Corsica and that's why it pays the subsidy there. The workers say that living on an island should warrant a subsidy too.

    Public sector

    CGT union workers of Air France, calling for a ground strike on Saturday 2 August, not coincidentally one of the biggest travel days of the year in France. Passengers must be made miserable!

    Workers of the SNCF (French national trains, toujours eux), on strike Tuesday 22 July between Beauvais (Ryanair's "Paris" airport) and Paris

Go back to school in Paris!

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I must say that I've never been disappointed with Paris's internet connection. I have a 200mbps fibre optic connection that costs me relatively little compared to what I would have had to pay in the UK. I'm not sure what it's like in the rest of France but never have I had a problem with mobile telephony, particularly 3G service, either. Furthermore, not only can you access data networks on the metro, many of the stations are WiFi equipped too.

Admittedly, many websites are indeed poorly designed. But they've come along way since 2005 when I first started trying to understand how the university system worked and what it was that we actually had to do to apply. Even university websites have come a long way in that timeframe.

Annoying as it may be, having to answer security questions when paying for something online is, I believe, a cultural point. France still won't relinquish cheques and, despite trying to introduce it, Moneo hardly took off. The French don't like debt; they like security with their finances.

I am dealing with a university whose website is back in the Stone Age, so I'm prejudiced. The wifi in Paris is pretty good, though! I love being able to use my smartphone in the metro. I didn't really mean wifi connectivity; that isn't the problem. It's more that the tech mentality is still a bit oldfashioned.

Yes, it is so annoying that Internet service in France is so behind the times. And slow. I'm told that (which we use for our home service and phones) deliberately slows down access to video services like YouTube at peak viewing hours in the evening. It's such a pain!

I did want to drop some Internet (or internet) trivia though. The Internet has normally capitalized as a global standard when it refers to the world-wide network overall. We then say "internet" (lower case) when referring to smaller local networks that do roughly the same thing as the world-wide 'Net. So it's not just a French thing to capitalize it, but it is also true that more organizations are blurring the lines of this naming convention so you will certainly see exception to this original "rule".

Our theory has been that their attachment to and refusal to give up the minitel caused the French to be late in embracing the internet and handicapped the development of the kind of sites we see elsewhere.

I never thought of that! That may be true. I remember one of my uncles coming to visit in Paris when the Minitel was in its heyday. He worked for Southern Bell and was quite impressed with the technology. I used to brag about it to Americans! Then I remember an American who moved to Paris in 1996 and couldn't believe no one had email.

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Today's quotation

  • If a woman is badly dressed, you notice her dress; but if she is perfectly dressed, she is the one you notice.

      --Coco Chanel (1883-1971)

    Si une femme est mal habillée, on remarque sa robe, mais si elle est impeccablement vêtue c’est elle que l’on remarque.

Le petit aperçu d'Ailleurs

  • Big scandal in China over rotten meat provided by major supplier Shanghai Husi to fast-food restaurants, including McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut and Starbucks

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