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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« Last Saturday before school starts | Main | Oliver Stone speaks good French »


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Hi !

/*/A few schools have figured out that since everyone needs exactly the same things, the school could just order them wholesale before the summer and charge the parents. But this sensible approach has yet to make into the public./*/

mmm … There is also enormous pressure from the small shopkeepers (papeteries and librairies, e.g.). Without this business at the rentrée, a lot of them will just close up shop. With all the competition from la grande distribution, they're already in bad shape.

There is also a huge backlash in the provinces, by the small shopkeepers, against the "free" school textbooks being paid for and handed out by the Regional Councils (20 of the 22 in France are Socialist …). The city centers are in trouble and policies like this do nothing to help them.

One has only to note that La Ségo refused the invitation to the MEDEF Summer University to see à quelle sauce nous serons mangés if La Madone des Sondages makes it in as President. Le Mépris is not just another film with Brigitte Bardot. (grin)


When I taught in LA we had the same problems with the backpacks. Every so often, I would pick one up and oi vey, it was a ton. Then there were the kids who opted out of the whole thing and had empty bags. That was one way to rebel.

At this time of year I always recall our first year in France. K received the list of items she needed for CM1 from her new school. I had no idea what any of that stuff was, but I had spotted a librairie in the neighborhood, so off we went to give it a try.

Luckily, we were the only customers and the vendeuse took our list, handed me a panier, and smiling headed down the aisles. She conferred with K on all matters of color, size or style, otherwise she just named the items and dropped then into the basket. It was awesome....truly. She made that potential nightmare a pleasant dream...and a wonderful memory.

I still drop by there when I have to go to Nice. My French remains abominable, but I try...and she always has a smile.

Meilleurs vœux!

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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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