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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« Paris, City of Lice (poux to that!) | Main | Le patronat vs the bosses »


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I used to take line 13 when I lived in Paris four years ago. It was Hell most of the time. People would squeeze in like sardines, pressed against each other, so close we couldn't even move our arms. Looking back, I don't know how I made it without panic attacks. And that was when traffic used to move (somewhat).

I also used to take the peripherique bus, and many times it would have been faster for me to talk the whole way rather than wait for the bus.

I think the metropherique is a really good idea, because when you live on the edge of the city, and you're going to somewhere else near the periphery, you always have to go into the middle of Paris, and then back out toward your destination, and it's very impractical. Also, driving on the peripherique during rush hour has always been a nightmare, even back when we lived in Paris, it always took my husband 1 hr to drive the 8 miles to his office.

So, in short, I think these problems pre-date even M. Delanoe. ;-)

The metro definitely needs some major investment if they want to deal with the increasing numbers of passengers but I can understand to some extent because those kinds of things take time to realize. On the other hand, the taxi situation in Paris is such an utter disaster I can't believe it. My husband and I lived in Paris for years completely happy without a car. But once I got pregnant and started to need a taxi every now and again, I realized that things were worse than I thought. Once we had a baby, we decided that we had to get a car, because you can't squeeze a child in an overstuffed metro car or sit for hours on the bus in traffic. And since calling a taxi means paying atleast 8 euros just for it to come to your house (in the dead center of Paris) plus waiting up to an hour for a pick up, it was an unreliable plan B. The city wants us to use more public transport but their policy regarding the G7 taxi monopoly is forcing people to get cars. I hope I live to see the day when a person can actually flag down a taxi on the street in Paris.

I have to take line 13 every day to commute to work and I can assure you it is getting worse.

Two weeks ago they even started putting people at the "place de Clichy" station to help people sqeeze theirselves in the trains :D

I just hate the mayor's office policy regarding traffic in Paris.
They've stated their goal was to make Paris a hell for drivers, which they did. However they provided NO alternative for transportation (except bikes...right....bikes. Go buy groceries for you and your 1.8 kids for the week with a bike)
I don't see any additionnal buses or subways in service. (Granted, there are more now at night just when there is little less traffic)
Worse than that it seems to me that they haven't even bother talking with the ratp or the suburbs to create alternative transportation. It's not like the question of commuting will just solve itself.
And Mr Beaupin alledgedly uses a taxi subscription...

You've got to hate this office

Not happy to hear this about Line 13 as it's going to be my primary Metro line when I move to the 15th! I don't have to commute to a job but still... the 12th is a farther walk for me from my new apartment!

I took a taxi last night from the Champs Elysees back to Vincennes (just too tired to deal with the Metro and a 10-15 minute walk home from the station in Vincennes late at night) and we hit TRAFFIC at MIDNIGHT trying to get onto the peripherique, and the taxi driver and I had quite a nice chat, complaining to each other about Monsieur Delanoe's misguided ideas of what will help make Paris a "green" city.

Hear, hear! I am still just furious that I can't get a taxi coming back from London via Eurostar. It is such a hassle, especially for those first-time visitors to Paris, who haven't a clue how to negotiate the metro - particularly when schlepping large bags.

First of all, people complaining should have a look on the other side of the Channel, where the price of a single journey zone 1 is soon going to be £4 and not even talking about the service (anybody tried to use the Northern line at rush hours?).

Saying that I reckon that the transport policy is a problem in Paris. Remember first that this central subject all started to grow after the victory of the green-socialist coalition that won the local elections in Paris. The socialist mayor was then "forced" to take a deputy mayor from the green party, and make it responsible for the transport policy. It is called politics and compromise.

The problem is than the green party, albeit all the great ideas that it has, lacks some political sense sometime. It begins with the idea to give rights to buses against cars, and created major congestion in the centre of Paris during the road work. The project - good idea I personally think - was undermined by bad communication (portraying Baupin, the green deputy mayor, as a small dictator, not listening to people). Then at the end what people remember is the chaos the project created, not the benefits they enjoy nowadays.

Second, that drastic policy against cars has been pushed ahead without at the same time improving massively the public transport system: not enough taxis (well, partly due to Chirac's policy when he was mayor, but the current municipality could have changed it), old metros (10 years after the promise of a new metro I think only line 1, 3b and the new Meteor use the new shape of wagons with no separation that can welcome more people) and - despite improvement - a lack of proper night bus system (as they have in London for instance - only good thing over there I think).

I really hope that the tram will be a success; however some rumours already say that they don't plan more than 1 tram every 15 minutes - it is actually 4 minutes (according to the official website) and that it is packed... well the next 4 months will be crucial for the municipality.

It is interesting to notice also that Paris and London have taken completely different approach:

In London, the mayor implemented a congestion charge. It is clear that it excludes people with no money power, but once you payed to enter central London, then it is quite good to circulate in the city. On the other hand the transport policy is non sense as in the same time he has multiplied the price by several pourcent or obliged people to use his Oyster card (a sort of "Moneo" system that allows him to get millions of pounds unused on the cards and reduce the queues to ticket offices without improving anything) without any noticeable improvement to the nightmare londoners live in.

In Paris, they have decided not to select people by their ability to pay a price, but by making driving so difficult in the city that it should discourage them. The problem is that before to discourage, it creates millions of frustrated drivers!!! On the other hand the transport system has improved but not as much as necessary to compensate all the angry electors with cars... (for instance, have you ever tried to leave a party OUTSIDE Paris at 2am without a car? There is no public transport, no taxis at all!!! - so you need a car then; thanks to the minicab system, there is always a way in London)

Well, as you see it's not that easy. I still believe that for any Parisian complaining, they should try a couple of days in London at rush hours...

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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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