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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"But in Paris, everyone has a nasty side"
That's Big City universal. But some cities are worse than others. Personally, I don't think I've met as many sweety-snappy bitches and Dr Jekyll-Mr Hyde types as in L.A. Perhaps the most gentle place I've lived in was London, even though the apparent kindness was not always genuine.

Having returned from 10 months spent in Montréal, I was able to realize how Parisians (Second only to Afghan Talibans) were probably the most hated group of individuals on earth. Whenever I introduced myself to someone, the news of my being from the City of Light turned their welcoming smiles to disapproving sneers. After 2 months of encountering the same reaction whenever I told anybody where I was from, I stopped. I said I was from Dijon instead. All people have to say about Dijon is "Isn't it where the make the mustard?" And all you have to answer to that is "Yes... Yes it is...".

I did prefer Concarneau (near Quimper in Bretagne) to Paris when I last visited. Concarneau was like home, only French.

I think that Parisians take the occasion of being around a tourist in order to unleash all of the pent up angst that comes from wearing too-tight lingerie.

Yeah, I think big city rudeness is almost universal (with the exception of the Australians, who are preternaturally cheerful). I grew up outside New York and have lived in London for the last dozen years, and really, how much worse could Paris be?

Ewww, I knocked over a collection of wobbly, wood statues at a Paris flea market once. I was screamed at for a full ten minutes. I had to wonder how many times a day that happened to this guy on this busy corner, poor man having to scream all day long, cutting his life span down by a third with all the stress!

I've lived in Paris for almost a year. And I think, even Parisians will agree, Parisians are the most consistently nastiest peoeple I have met. I used to work in a bar that catered to tourists and locals. And some of the conversations I would hear would be really insulting. And big city rudeness is not universal. I've lived in New York and Miami. Visited London and Nice, Bangkok, Melbourne, and Singapore.

Appropriately, Paris is the only place I've been called a dog.

I guess it depends on personal experiences. I found the people in Marseille much more rude than those in Paris. I averaged one bad encounter per week in Paris. In New York City, it was five per day. I do believe it is the "rat" syndrome. Place too many in too small a space and "Voila!", bad attitudes.

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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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