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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You know, I was just saying to a friend today that one of things on my "list of things to do before I die" used to be "flying the Concorde" and how I had to obviously scratch that one off the list. So it was nice to live a bit vicariously through your post - thanks!

Very interesting details about the Concorde. It would be nice if that's the way most plane travel worked.

I think I could really get used to the Concorde given just one chance ;) We travel to France, usually Lyon, at least one time per year and I would love to do it sipping Champagne!

Oh that sounded wonderful. Thanks for the little voyage.

Ah, the Concorde...

This plane provided my very first lesson in the economics of projects fueled by government funds as opposed to private money. Even at the age of 15 and before a single commercial passenger stepped on board I was able to figure out from the newspaper reports that the terms on which the aircraft were being supplied to BA and Air France meant that:

(a) The entire £2,000millon invested by the British taxpayers (a lot of money in those days), plus a similar amount from the French taxpayers, had been irretrievably lost, and

(b) Government officials on both sides of the Channel were proposing to in addition provide ongoing subsidies plus regulatory indulgences to the two airlines to get them to fly the planes, solely to make it appear that the project had not been the hideous commercial failure it really was.

After this memorable initiation I've never really been shocked by any subsequent governmental maneuver, or by any fresh instance of the gullibility of the media, which swallowed the story whole.

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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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