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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The 'privileges of adulthood' reflect the fact that formal France has become a gerontocracy.

This is a normal development in France, which has occurred many times in the past. The normal response has been the accession of a new monarch, a revolution, or other generationally-tinged regime change leading to a new constitution.

It's not so clear that this system will work this time though, when the old people are entrenched behind so many regulations and young people have access to $20 one way low cost airline tickets to a life beyond France.

There is something effortless about aging in France -- compared to other countries like the U.S., where you're sent for cosmetic checks from your tender age onwards [and it's never good enough].

The French culture is about making the most of what you have, rather than change it [hence the unique "jolie-laide" concept]. Old can be sexy in France. But it's changing. The pressure for "jeunisme" and standardized looks is increasing [eg. French reality TV].

On a related note, Téchiné's movie "Les temps qui changent" recently opened in L.A. With Deneuve as Melki's wife and Depardieu's paramour. I didn't particularly like it, but what seems to have bothered the local viewers most is that "old Deneuve" could still be a subject of desire. Same with her movie "Au plus près du Paradis".

I so agree with you here. Maybe it is the French respect for history and culture that enables French society to see the beauty and wisdom in something mature.

Yes... and No. I like where you're going with this, but it's not really that true. I mean, Segolene is kind of like Jane Fonda, still keeping things fit. Her face hasn't changed much since the early 80s. Just look in the pharmacies and you can see all that anti-aging business going on. Ok, so they don't dress like tarts. Well, it's not a french thing to show too much skin either, is it? Yes, there are more older women around, but they're preserved in a way that's not unlike our American counterparts. Botox is botox, and it's popular all around the world, and all the TV anchors in the world are using it.

I can imagine someone from the Cote d'Azur coming up with a funny rebuttal for your post.

So VERY relieved to hear this, given that I am single, 45, and moving to Paris in November. Nice to know I'm going to a place where I have more than a snowball's chance in hell to have some romance in my life again! Thanks for making my day!

Nardac said "Well, it's not a french thing to show too much skin either, is it?"

I remember my first trip to France well. The mother of my French friend went topless in Brittany. I would say that's a lot of skin! :)

Nardac, I can see for myself that older women get more attention in France! I don't think it's my imagination, and I like it. Maybe it's partly because people here spend more time with their extended families than Americans do, so young men may be more comfortable with older people than the average American is. That's my theory anyway.

Bold Soul, that's great that you're pursuing your dream!

Who I am to tell? Will you say... (and you should) as I am French and 23. But still, I do have a comment!
I think we are, in France, going down the American road on this matter as we do on so many others. Botox and lifting and all of this intervention are increasingly popular, but there also is a tradition of "romance for the elderly" ...if I may say so.

Let me give you some examples that have built my vision of mature women.

In French litterature, L'éducation sentimentale is not only a classic book but also a real theme. In Flaubert's novel, a young boy around 18 fell suddenly in love with a married women. She will refused herself for the next 30 years... this is the 19th century.
Cohen's Ariane ("Belle du seigneur", please don't be impressed by the number of pages... it is surreally well written) lives her first lovestory as she is already well settled and married.

More recently "Franz et Clara" is a very nice short story about a young lady musician who falls in love with a 13-year-old boy.

It is not about being an ageing woman, it is about finally being a "femme". She knows herself, knows what she likes and what she looks like. She is accomplished and has a self confidence that is appealing and that no girl my age could ever compete with.

It is this particular appeal that you will find in our books as much as in our films that certainly helped building the image of an ageing women being in fact "dans la fleur de l'âge".

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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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