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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We flew on the AF 380 from San Francisco to Paris on June 21; I think it was the first week to use the 380. The employees were very proud, and there were celebratory signs and banners all over. Boarding went well; SFO seems to be set up for the big plane. Deplaning and baggage at CDG was no problem either. During the flight, the captain came through the cabin to see how we liked it.

I found the video from the plane to be a little creepy. I hope I get used to it, because it's definitely cool. I couldn't watch when we landed!

We were surprised by how many bangs and clunks and whirrs we could hear inside the cabin. An attendant explained that we could hear the machinery on the wings because the 380 engine is much quieter than on older planes.

One really bad thing about the 380 is the headrests, which can only be adjusted a couple of inches and seem to be optimized for men close to six feet tall. Our granddaughter is 4'10", and her head was pushed uncomfortably forward for the whole flight.

Which US airport was this? I fly back and forth between my home in Paris and my family's home in New Jersey a few times each year, and was just wondering if Newark is prepared for the A380. I'm guessing... probably not.

I haven't tried Newark-- I avoid that airport whenever possible! The A380 flies in and out of DC. Some other airports too, but DC can't handle it.

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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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