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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Comments

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So much for the minimum wage, human rights, egalite, etc. The rhetoric is one thing, the practice rather different. Unfortunately for the young the French economy is fundamentally a scam operated for the benefit of the 'soixante-huitards', who turned out to be no more high-minded when it came to funding their pensions than the generation before them, which they so eagerly denounced four decades ago.

Plus ca change...

Actually one thing does seem to have changed, which is surely the extraordinary passivity of the younger generation today, in the face of the practices you describe. They have in many respects drawn the short straw, but seem disinclined to object.

In many instances their parents are currently subsidizing their lifestyle, sliding neatly out of sight the awkward fact that things will be different by the time today's average young person in France reaches the age at which their parents are retiring now.

I've wondered whether that's the route I'll have to take if I decide to continue my career from the US. In which I have almost 10 years of experience. In large companies.

Great post and only too true !

Im an englishman who has been living in France for the past 9 years and at one of the companies where I worked the stagiaires outnumbered the "real" employees.
I think that French employers still put too much importance on what studies you did than your experience/intelligence.

Paul

I am sick and tired of hearing about the Generation Stagiaires. Stages have been a fact of life for years – and companies have used them as cheap or free labor for a long time. I am not saying it is fair, but it does seem that most stagiaires are stuck without a job because they have graduated with useless diplomas: masters in law, geography, history, or philosophy… Why did they undertake such studies without thinking first of what sort of jobs they wanted is beyond me. Plus, lots of the “generation sacrifiee” will only accept a guaranteed for life job, which has to be located in their home town. There are jobs to be had in la province or la banlieue, and of course, abroad! I live in NYC and I am amazed by the number of young French people who refuse to have a career here because there is no job security, no 8 weeks of paid vacation, and no “droits a la retraite”! Their naivety is just maddening. On a different subject, I love your blog and hope you will continue writting and posting your great pictures.

Great post about the tragedy of France. Not all of those abused are "disinclined to object" though, which is why you meet so many French expats. I certainly noticed a surge of young, dynamic, entrepreneurial frogs in the U.S. and in the U.K.

As for the elder, it's a tougher call. When you have French headhunters telling candidates that, come 40, they're no longer part of the "forces vives de la nation" [a preposterous claim], you know there's something deeply sick about the system.

Regrettably, I don't see much of a "paradigm shift" going forward :(

At my last interview with a recruitment agency I was told that it is a shame that I hadn't come to them about a year and a half earlier because at 31 it was going to be a bit difficult to find me something. The problem was that their clients were very rigid in their hiring and since I had a certain age, that automatically meant that I could only go for level of job and if I didn't fit in exactly, I had almost no hope of getting an interview, for that post or any other. Its ridiculous and enough to keep me working as a freelancer for American firms rather than deal with the French corporate mindset on a daily basis.

I read an article in the Economist quite awhile ago which made an interesting point- if France can have the success it has today with all the silly rules and regulations and taxes that companies and people have to deal with, they would be a powerhouse if there was a sensible system in place.

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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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