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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« S'expatrier | Main | The 75-year-old Daddy »


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Casseurs Great threat or something?!

Please sign the Review CPE First Job Contract Petition

Dear Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin,

We have been following the news of the Contrat de Première Embauche (CPE) or First Job Contract and the subsequent French protests against it. We are deeply troubled by it, especially the part where "companies are allowed to fire employees under the age of 26 without reason within the first two years on the job"...

Re: the comment by Jaclynn.

I don't censor my comments except for personal attacks and obscenities. But I don't agree with the anti-CPE demonstrators. I think the CPE is a return to common sense and should apply to everyone. It would greatly help employers who otherwise are afraid to take a chance on a young person, a mother returning to work, a senior. The current system, which the demonstrators are so passionately defending, visibly does not work to create employment. This month there was a sum total of NO jobs created in France.

Good employees do not get "fired for no reason" (no one gets "fired for no reason"-- there is always a reason) and do not cost an employer more than CPE employees. The only reason to fire someone at the end of the CPE period is that the employer suspects he would have to fire the person later.

Why are so many French people demonstrating for the right never to get fired? Would you want to hire someone who wants the right never to be fired? That's what I find "deeply troubling."

What I find sad is that the young students who are demonstrating have *no idea* about young professional life. I'm trying not to sound jaded - I've worked for *only* 10 years in French, Anglo and Asian countries and never have I come across such complacency about the "right" to work as I do here.

And those who are striking are those who can afford to as they sit in protected public jobs that are sucking the life out of any opportunity this country has for growth.

I work with an international company and team in Paris, my French friends have expat overseas experience, my French family-in-law are from French teaching and viticulteur background, my taxi drivers are Algerian. They are all exasperated with this situation.

Sorry - that was a rather long and badly punctuated comment!

I'm a 52 yr old American & have been let go from a job twice in my career. Once when I was 17 after working 30 days at Safeway by a manager that had been brought in to "clean up" the store. He started that same day I did at the store and I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I can't imagine a lifetime as a Boxboy. The last time was a couple of years ago as the Mortgage company was slowly sinking in a sea of red ink and didn't really lay me off, just moved me from a salaried position back to a Loan Officer/Comission Sales position. Didn't care for that, but they are still barely afloat and may turn the business around yet. Would they still be in business if they had to pay my salary still? Several of us were released at the same time and I have no doubt that had they been forced to keep us, everyone would be out of work now and the business dead. But today I'm at a better company, with a higher salary, better benefits. Much better all around, no hard feelings toward the owners of the other company who tried hard, but did not have all the expertise necessary to make the business fly as well as it should have. They zigged when they should have zagged.

All the news sounds like the French kids and young adults (although 26 sounds more like adult than "young adult") need to get focused, get a life, get to work and don't expect somebody's momma (government) to hold their hand forever.

Enjoyed my time in France (vacations) but what an insane asylum! Vive La France!

Ah! I know this is now an old debate but American arroagnce and ignorance has incensed me again, and I feel compelled to put the record straight.

Okay, here goes.

1) The CPE discriminated against young people. Older people get their nice safe jobs, protected for life, with the rising value of their property and nice generous pensions whilst young people in France are hardly able to afford a mortgage, will struggle to get a decent pension and yes a job. But now they will be doubly worse off under this cos the CPE means they have NO security for 2 years - or in fact up to the age of 28 if all they do is get laid off and never complete their 2 years. If you got laid off just before your two years you had to redo the entire thing again.

No security of employment in France means no mortgage, and no rent. Yes you can not rent a place in France if you can't show a reliable source of income.

Hence the protest against the "precarity of existence".

2) If you want to shake up the French labour market then fine - thats probably what it needs - but lets not just pick a soft target and load it on the young. What about everybody equally sharing the burden?

3) This law was never discussed or debated in the National Assembly before it was brought in. It was brought in by special decree reserved for times of national emergency. If you think its acceptable for a government to single you out and remove YOUR rights without vote, debate and by special decree then you've lost the plot. You may as well go and live in an autocracy, and answer to kings and queens.

French young people were right to demonstrate and refuse this "solution".

No, its not the case that if you do a good job you won't be dismissed. If that were the case why would anyone ever have the need for race relations legislation, unfair dismissal legislation and sexual harressment legislation? Or I guess these laws don't exist in America and unfair dismissal is unheard of and unimaginable there?

This law would give an employer the right to sack an 18 year old girl because she didn't respond to his sexual advances? The CPE gave NO right of redress to anyone sacked. There was NO need to give ANY justification for the dismissal.

Thats okay for America, maybe, but sorry, in France they are proud of not being Americans or part of a hire and fire no rights, low wage economy that benefits only the uber rich.

And somehow France still gives its citizens a damn sight better quality fo life than America does in my opinion.

From Sedulia: Well, there I agree with you, Deane. And long may it wave. But France is competing in a world where no one else has those rules. Unless France becomes an island under a bubble dome, it's a global economy. Do you hear the "giant sucking noise"? It's money and jobs leaving France.


That giant sucking noise?? Well we can all recognise the problems, but one thing impresses me about France compared with er... the USA and UK: France finishes each year 10 billion dollars in the black every year!

The USA doesn't, and its economy survives on foreign credit. The great sucking noise you probably hope you never hear is the one that comes when China decides to call in its American debts!! It will be the sound of the entire US economy disappearing down the drain.

So, yes, I accept that there are problems, but I'm not sure that the American way is the answer.

Kind regards


BTW - great blog!!

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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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