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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Excellent post. Iranian cabbies are by far the best in Paris - articulate, ironic and great storytellers. Paris has its fair share of ecclectic taxi drivers. One that definitely stands out are the group of Haitian pasteurs. I've met two of them on various occasions - you're always guaranteed a spirited conversation on the topic of religion. While we're on the subject have you ever met the Moroccan woman who smokes reefer in the cab with you? Would love to bump into her again, but that's another story...

Thanks a million for the blog -- like your take on the ville des lumières.

"Do you know, he has an open day when anyone who wants to can stand in line and see him, and the president welcomes him and listens to him..."

Gosh, that has an awfully familiar ring to it. Here is a version from the summer of 1940:

Alongside the military genius respected by Vichy, and the artistic genius and great-hearted patron of the arts dear to Cocteau, here [on the left] they celebrated the man of the people, the socialist, the architect of Europe. On 29 June 1940, Deat incredulously noted in his diary: 'Chateau says that the Fuhrer is staying in Paris in rue Jean-Goujon, in an unpretentious hotel where he is paying for his own room...'

- 'France Under the Germans', Phillippe Burrin, Editions du Seuil, 1993, Ch 25.

To put it mildly, it turned out that these people had been deceiving themselves about the nature of the man they admired so fervently, while he himself despised and mocked their gullibility. Plus ca change,... on the streets of Paris, it seems.

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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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