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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And they laugh at us for believing in God :-). I know a French psychoanalyst. Very interesting person - she attempted to "hypnotize" some of us at a party.

The French are also big on the astrology, are they not?

This has always irked me. Particularly since I am left-handed, and it is a physical impossibility for me to write the ideal fountain-pen-graceful cover letter without smearing it across the heel of my writing hand.


Actually, the Japanese are big into this too and I'd always meant to get mine done but then realized they can only analyze kanji and katakana characters.

Well, that's a relief... my handwriting is somewhat schizophrenic in nature anyway; it changes based on the day of the month, the mood I'm in, or how rushed I am. I've been dreading the "handwritten cover letter" aspect of trying to apply for a job in France. Maybe by the time I'm ready for some serious job-hunting, the handwriting analysis will be interdit!

Great post. I've always detested this "lettre manuscrite" business. It is demeaning and infantilizing, especially when one is a professional and wants to project that image in his/her communication. And yet, I've read some reports from people who analyzed my handwriting, without knowing who I was or seeing my résumé, and they were pretty spot on... spooky, actually.

Another detestable practice in France is the demand for a CV with photo. I've worked for HR consultants in Paris, and I remember the headhunters relaxing at the end of day by playing darts with the candidates' photos they had pinned on the wall, or commenting grossly on someone's haircut, or tits, or worse.

And yet, I find the recruitement process in France far less intrusive than in the States, where they demand to know (and get access to) your most private information, such as health and financial records (and what about those urine tests?!)

As for goofball beliefs and altenative science, they're everywhere. I live in L.A. and there's plenty of them. I'm just thinking of a neighbor who follows my cat with a pendulum to check that his chakras are aligned properly, amongst other holistic deliriums.

I handwrote my letters for the first few months after moving here, but got no bites - granted though, my handwriting is atrocious! Ever since, I type them out and never include a photo unless it's specifically asked for. I haven't had any problems finding a job so far, but then again, I'm not applying for upper-level management type jobs they tend to use graphology for...

Amusing, but hardly anomalous. This slots right in alongside the French fascination with socialism, what I can only describe as 'voodoo unemployment economics', and the much glorified debacle which was the French revolution.

Funnily enough, I've been asked to send a handwritten cover letter together with my résumé to apply for my actual job, here in Canada. I was surprised as I knew it was a very European (or a least "French") practice. I don't think it was for a graphology analysis, maybe just to know if my writing was legible (I'm a secretary, thus need to leave notes on desks! hehe).

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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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