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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Interesting! I went to Catholic school in Canada in the late 50s, early-mid 60s (yes, I'm ancient!) and we did all the usual Halloween activities -- cut out ghosts and jack-o-lanterns, had a costume party, etc. And then we would observe All Souls' Day the next morning with no sense of contradiction. . .

"Peur sur le Parc" -- chez Asterix and Obelix. Love it! I would not read too much into it. I have quite a few French friends who still celebrate Halloween in Paris. I think a lot of people tried it for a while and since it was an "imported" celebration in France, it just died down after a while. As for the French Catholic church, I - and many French people - stopped paying attention to what it does a long time ago. "Holy Win" is plain silly and most people don't need the Church to remind them to celebrate their loved ones. Pffffff... [insert famous French shrug]
Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

I personally don't see it as anti-Americanism or religion so much as the fact that it really isn't a traditional French holiday. Which isn't a bad thing per se but makes it feel artificial to some (namely older) people.

Still, most of the people I know (in their 20s and 30s) have Halloween parties, and as a kid, my grandparents village organised trick or treating events (I never did it in Paris, but that seems kinda logical - I would not send my kids banging on stranger's doors). Still, I feel like most French people are fine with Halloween, but I understand how you might feel annoyed by a small but obnoxious minority.

Btw, I really like your blog!

Hi Cranberry! Thanks! Another thing I notice is that in Paris, the people who do enjoy Halloween make it much ghoulier than it is in the States-- in France, it seems to be understood that Halloween is all about blood and gore and devils, whereas to us it's more just a general occasion for costumes. Maybe that's one reason so many people don't like it here.

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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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