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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I finished the movie Papillon at 4 a.m. this morning and have not yet slept because this since-abolished world of the French penal system, Devil's Island, prison labor, and the various biographies of ex-prisoners has kept me up and utterly enthralled. It is nothing short of incredible what these men have endured... I cannot stop imagining what they must have been thinking and feeling as they wasted away in these prisons, or what it must have been like to escape and face the vast, seemingly endless ocean. Or to be caught and dragged back, put into solitary confinement, and yet still endure.

In a twisted way it almost pains me that I will never feel even half of what these men have felt in their lifetimes. I picture the depths of their souls they had to reach into in order to survive. I wish I could force the world to see and read what we, the people who have found ourselves on this blog, have seen and read. Perhaps there would be more humility and kindness in the world, a greater understanding of real suffering and true pain.

I stare out my window now and am grateful for my peaceful, quiet life.

To the commenter by the name of Alex Wasinowicz; Good luck on your travels and PLEASE, if you have a website or blog, link it so that I may read of your journey. One day I too hope to be able to travel and see the remnants of these prisons for myself.

I am watching Papillon right now, 3rd time in two weeks. I have always liked this movie, the acting is superb, and it is fun to watch.

Those men showed us all the amazing strengths of character a human is capable of when put under extraordinary pressures and forced to live in such harrowing conditions It makes many of us reflect on the 'easy life' we live. What these men proved capable of in an effort to escape just wow! I can understand the author embellishing the story a bit to make it more interesting for readers but I think a film as close to what actually happened generally sits better when based on a true story. Anyway I have very much respect for anyone who survived those appalling conditions, had the courage and perseverance to escape multiple times and the ingenuity to come up with daring and inventive escape plans. After surviving those conditions, managing to escape and then (in the case of Brunner ) living to the ripe old age of 105 that is some amazing life...sad to read he has no visitors.

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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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