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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« G̶y̶p̶s̶i̶e̶s̶ R̶o̶m̶ "Romanians" in Paris | Main | Joyeux Noël everyone! »


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Great post, all very true. What always baffles me (and you mentioned it) is how tolerant the French are of strikes... I could not get my mind around that even when I lived in Paris -- and I am French! ;-) My mother in law is on her way to Seattle as I type this. Like you, she is traveling on Air France. I hope her experience is a good as yours! Joyeux Noel! Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

How do you sleep all the way to the US? Are you three feet tall? I was disappointed by the food on Air France last November because I love bread and their bread is definitely different in a bad way. I would still never fly on any other airline because the class of Air France is still above and beyond any other company I've flown with. And when you are on a plane for ten hours, that extra money is worth each and every penny.

I respect the strikes in France because they give the power back to the "little" people and we don't have that power in the US. To me, it's just part of travel, like the weather. Not enjoyable, but part of the adventure. When I first moved to Paris the strikes were a lot of fun. Street food, free souvenirs (the stickers the unions hand out) and drinks from the back of moving trucks. And a great walk in the middle of the street, which gives you a view you normally couldn't get.

reviens bientôt!

Hi Emily,
It's true I slept better than usual because by chance I got a bulkhead seat with more room in front for my legs. Also I always order a special meal so it tends to be better than the usual fare (flight attendants have told me it's what they do) and you also get served first and can then go to sleep!

As for thinking the constant anti-passenger strikes are fun, we'll have to agree to disagree.

Salut Véronique, Joyeux Noël to you too!

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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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