Perhaps it is not altogether a bad thing that the French, in general, are not very branché Internet. It may be because they are close to their families and friends, don't generally move far away from them, and prefer to do things in warmer ways, in person.
But it's true that compared to Americans of the same age, French people and companies tend to be behind the times. Older people (i.e. the ones running the country) still scarcely know how to use the internet, which in France is called Internet, as if it were a person. I overheard a woman complaining that everyone sent her Youtube links but she doesn't want to open a Youtube account.
A couple of years ago I did a post called "Why do French websites all suck?" Not much has changed since then. French websites still have Enter pages, always use Flash animation (for lo, it is written!), and horribly often hit you with loud unexpected music as the page opens. Pages still take too long to load, and navigation is still the very last priority.
Today's post is inspired by H's difficulty in buying a ticket online to the Musée d'Orsay.
The same is true at many, many other sites, including the Louvre and Versailles. For example, I've given up on going to see this show I'd like to see, because you can't buy tickets online without opening a new account at a ticket service. Oh and these sites note your IP address so that if you bought before on a site, you can't open a new account but have to use your old one (too bad if you didn't write down all your made-up info because you thought you'd only use it once since it was so annoying). NOOOOoooooo....
The gap between internet companies in France and in more welcoming countries is starting to attract attention in high places. This week, the ministre déléguée for the digital economy (in case you're wondering, yes, France does have ministres for every possible concern) announced a new program called Paris Capitale Numérique [digital capital], which has the aim of making Paris the new French Silicon Valley. There will be a new space for web entrepreneurs, probably the Halle Freyssinet, near the Gare d'Austerlitz and the Bibliothèque Nationale, and including high-speed broadband to the tune of €300 million a year (which would be great; I'll believe it when I see it). By the way, not that the U.S. has anything to brag about on that score. But we do have a huge country.
On her Facebook page, Fleur Pellerin, the ministre, wrote, "We are going to create in Paris or its near-in suburbs a place which will be the flagship of French web technology. This is to become an international showcase, a world-class incubator. Up to 1000 start-ups will be able to use the 25,000-square-meter space The start-ups will have access to a single office [for government dealings] and to all necessary services on-site.... You can read my complete interview in Libération (paying link :http://www.liberation.fr/economie/2013/03/05/nous-allons-creer-un-lieu-etendard-du-numerique_886516) and the Agence France-Presse article in Le Monde: (http://www.lemonde.fr/economie/article/2013/03/06/fleur-pellerin-veut-creer-un-quartier-numerique-a-paris_1843398_3234.html)
It's all too typical that the first link is paying only and that the ministre posted an unreadable copy of the article on her Facebook page, which by the time I saw it had attracted 60 comments, a third or so of which were on the order of "bravo" and the rest complaints that the move was pointless. The main objection was that in France, space is not the biggest problem. Rather, entrepreneurs need for it to be easier and cheaper and more socially acceptable to set up a company, whereas right now they have to deal with the "administrative jungle." "That's why everyone's going to Berlin." Also, why is the space in Paris, when France is already far too centralized? And many think nothing will happen at all.
*Digital France: grade: C+