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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Amazing, isn't it. I wonder where Englishwomen fit into this (being one). It always used to amuse or infuriate me, depending on mood, when I was in Paris, that I could walk into a restaurant, not having opened my mouth, and the waiters would often speak English - and I was there often enough to imagine I didn't look like a tourist.
So once when I was arranging to meet a Frenchwoman I didn't know in a public place, she described herself - tall, dark curly hair, and I just said, I look English. She found me, no problem. But couldn't specify exactly what it was. So this precision re eyes is intriguing.

I have always noticed this!! I call it the Julie Delpy syndrome. In the US I can often spot French women simply by this.

I never thought of it but it's so true. Now I understand why TV anchors and other actresses in the U.S. often look dim-witted.

Add the extra wide, carnivore grin in the U.S. -- while a Frenchwomen's smile will be more subdued, like a seductive pout.

[We're obviosuly caricaturing here.]

Hi !

Amerloque has always felt that some of the difference(s) (ca saute aux yeux, après tout) can simply be attributed to the application of makeup.

In his experience, American and French women definitely do not apply makeup in the same fashion, in the same places, in the same quantities, or in the same consistency.


à mon avis la différence tient plus à la forme du sourcil...
en france, les maquilleuses vous disent de tracer mentalement une ligne droite entre le coin du nez et le coin de l'oeil => le sourcil doit s'arrêter à l'intersecion avec cette droite. Le sourcil des américaines va plus loin, et elles se façonnent à l'épilation un sourcil beaucoup plus arqué.
Si vous regardez bien le sourcil des françaises, il est arqué côté interne de l'oeil, mais la deuxième moitié est souvent peu arquée ou droite...

[Translation: "In my opinion the difference is more in the form of the eyebrow....In France, the makeup artists tell you to trace a mental line between the corner of the nose and the corner of the eye=> the eyebrow should stop at the intersection with that line. The Americans' eyebrow goes farther, and they pluck their eyebrows in much more of an arch. If you look closely at the eyebrows of Frenchwomen, they are arched on the inside of the eye, but the outside half is often less arched or straight...."

I think it's all that cigarette smoke in their eyes.

a little more difficult to discern in photos as everyone goes for their 'sexiest' look, whether it's a pout or a wide eyed smile on camera. on the streets or the metro, i've always thought that the half-mast look revealed a lack of enthusiasm/life/spark in french eyes, male or female. perhaps its cultural as well. when you're taught not to smile for 'no reason' (etc.), your eyes reflect differently until you do. inner light reflects outwardly. unsure of how to explain this without sounding a bit off the deep end.

the shapes of eyebrows and eyes differ quite a bit also, as mentioned above. i've noticed that many french (my husband and several other friends included) have a slight downward slant at the outer corners of their eyes.

I wonder about that instant "know you are an American" thing. I look very French as you can see by my blog "Johnnysarc". Yet, before I say one word in my fractured French, I'm found out. Amazing!

Great: one MORE thing to adjust about myself.

I'm gonna have fun staring at everybody's eyebrows tonight on the Métro!

Look at Virginie Ledoyen : she sees through you, she is not an innocent girl... Be careful, she is in control.
Now look at the blond with the purple top, you can almost hear her giggle.
I won't says anything about Hillary, she looks like she was suprised by the flash.

Sorry that is harsh...but as a (chauvinistic) French that is what I first thought.

On a more serious level, the Americans look like they are very confident, empowered, they're gonna get what they want. No doubt. They might sometimes look a little naive.

When I look at the pictures of the French ones, there is nothing like that going on. They are at a seductive level. The're not saying : "I can conquer the world", they're saying : "Be careful, you... I can conquer you."
What do you think?

As for the half-mast thing... Personally I can't tell if that is why we know when someone's American.

I was told I could be identified as American by my walk.

That's so funny! I remember reading (or maybe it was seeing... The Great Escape, that movie with Steve McQueen?) that American prisoners of war who escaped were taught by the Resistance to walk without swinging their arms as Americans do, so they wouldn't be recognized.

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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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