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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It's pretty cold down here in Poitou-Charentes though, as you say, nothing unprecedented for anybody who's lived in the northern US. The problem in the rural areas is less the cold than it is the lack of plowing/sanding the roads. People just drove on them, packing down the snow, and now the roads are like sheets of ice. We've been trapped in our house (well, not able to drive anywhere, which is going to be a problem soon enough because the nearest supermarche is a half-hour away) since Monday. No fun!

There's still snow on the ground in Paris, but not much. It stopped looking pretty though! It must be much colder where you are. The French aren't good at dealing with ice and snow but from what I've been reading they'd better get used to it!

I must have come at a good time - I was in Paris end of January and couldn't get over how warm it us! Stay bundled up!

Oh dear! Clearly I should have spent last week knitting you up those Beowulf socks . . .

YES! En plus the heat has gone off in my house. I had to sleep in my clothes under several quilts and blankets, and the kitchen is heated by the gas burners and the oven. It's currently 48.5º F (9º C) inside, according to the thermometer. But the heater guy is coming this afternoon.

I will send warm sock thoughts Paris-ward and hope the thermometer rises soon.

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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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