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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Ah, Sedulia, thank you for telling the story. Even now she is remembered, a little kindly.


you write very well.

Hi Sedulia !

/*/Nowadays the word concierge seems to have acquired a negative connotation, and the polite word is supposed to be gardienne; but our concierge always called herself the concierge, so I call her that too./*/

As far as Amerloque has understood, "concierge" is one job and "gardien" is another one … this was explained to him chapter and verse about ten or twelve years ago when the building he dwells in went from having the former to having the latter, "to save money". If he remembers correctly, a "concierge" is on duty 24/7/365, while a "gardien" is only supposed to be on duty "durant ses heures de travail, qui sont fixes". Both are supposed to have contrats de travail, and the former usually has a logement de fonction. There is also that whole issue of who pays for the (sometimes expensive) concierge/gardien telephone if the owners and renters do not have access to it at all times.

Amerloque has just looked in his piles of books for the relevant definitions, but, alas, the pamphlet (one of those emanating from one of the Syndicats … -grin-) is in a trunk or basement somewhere.

If one is seriously interested in all this, there is apparently an organization called the "Union Nationale pour l’Information et la Défense des Gardiens, Concierges, et Employés de Maison (UDGE)" which probably can supply a plethora of info. -smile-


great writing. I'm glad I didn't know her though.

It truly amazes me how some people choose to live their lives. She knew she had a nasty character but for whatever reason did little to change it. This was a wonderful story and beautifully written... you should consider having it published! That said, I hope when I move to Paris, if there is a concierge or gardienne, she's a bit more mild-tempered!

What an interesting story! And what a tragic life!

It would be interesting to know what happened in her formative years and her responses in life to understand why she was the way she was.

It was nice that you were there for her even though she rejected your kindness. You were used by God to provide the chance for hope in her pathatic life.

This was excellently written. I would agree with Lisa that you should publish it, Sedulia!

Very well written indeed; my wife and I are French expatriates living in Chicago; we have a quaint "pied-a-terre" in the 16th in Paris, in a building from 1910 blessed by the presence of a very nice "gardienne" and her husband, both originally from Spain. I am amazed at the modesty of the "loge", which has to be a mere 25sq ft small. When I raised this concern to other propritaires, they really do not seem to care...c'est la vie! Although this couple, the "gardiens", raised two children in this tiny loge, I can only wonder when they retire to Spain, in perhaps 2 or 3 years, who would volunteer to live under these conditions? a single person maybe? or is the concierge or the gardienne as we know them today slowly disappearing?

This is the first time I've ever commented on someone's blog -- I read a number of them and I have never thought that any of them, while entertaining, were particularly well written, despite the effusive praise in their comments sections. You, however, are really quite a good writer and this story was fantastic. I just spent two hours reading through your entire archive.

From Sedulia: Thank you, Missy!

beautiful homage,what a biography,you drew her so well.

Oh that poor old lady. How could she perform all those concierge services at an age where people do nothing but to advise? :O

I think she was in good health until she fell and broke her hip. She was probably like one of those lab rats that lives much longer on a calorie-restricted diet. She also loved the social life that came with being a concierge, so I don't know if she would have liked being retired. I wish I knew her life story.

Lovely story.

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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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