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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« Anomalies of French Life: The Garbagemen's Calendars | Main | The friendly baggage carts »


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I was just wondering who were the keepers of the I know! Merci!

Meilleurs voeux!


I am French and if I would like to hear hello before give me the cofee, I would find that so rude to ask it !!!

It was the end of a long day, she told me later.

The saying of "bonjour" during everyday transactions is a pleasantry which may become noteworthy by its omission in ways that indicate the everyday racism of the dear French. Being an American of mixed French and Mexican-American ancestry, I've found that French people working at counters will often stare at me in surprise and omit the ritualistic "bonjour". The degree of surliness they direct toward me allows me to gauge their attitude on a spectrum of mere surprise on over to racist hostility.

I once had a conversation with a good French friend who holds an American passport as well about this "bonjour" business. I related a particular incident in a bakery when I didn't get the "bonjour," "merci," "au revoir" routine after I had witnessed a procession of a string of customers who did. My French friend often believed that I saw racism in France where there really was none. But he seemed genuinely shocked that the "bonjour" routine had been denied me, which leads me to believe that "bonjour" is indeed a big deal in France.

But who am I to complain After all, it's their damned country.

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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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