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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« Fête de la Musique... or noise? | Main | Texas Embassy in Paris »


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The other tell-tale sign: baseball caps. Only North Americans wear them. And if you can't spot a maple leaf somewhere on their body, then they are most definitely American.

Rick Steves guidebooks.
And on very young women, very tight, very short shorts.

Aww, Chris! I have Rick Steves guidebooks myself-- they're the best!

(And does anyone really mind cute young girls in short shorts? Maybe the operative word is cute.)

Well, the loud voices is certainly true. I don't know why Americans are so much louder than the French. Spaniards are, too. But here I was trying to talk about what people are wearing so I didn't mention other differences, like.... weight.

Yes, what IS it with the French and their passion for Converse? They are the most uncomfortable sneakers, no arch support and if you're on your feet all day they're probably not the best choice. I always thought of them like the Keds - for kids. But here, you can find people of nearly all ages wearing them.

The other ways I spot my fellow Americans in Paris are: fanny packs (leave them at home and get an across-the-body carrier bag, much cooler and more Parisian); and people talking very very loudly in places where no one else is talking loudly (why do we do that, we Yanks? I don't know but after living here for going on 6 years I've learned to exercise volume control, and sometimes my husband STILL says I talk too loudly - usually when I'm on the phone with my family back home!)

I meant MESSENGER bag, not carrier bag. :)

I'm a big fan of Rick Steves too. I don't think Rick Steves is bad (actually, I greatly respect him), only that it marked you as an American.

As for the short shorts: I started noticing the tight and short shorts because the locals were staring, and not in a friendly way.

Sweat pants

Sleeveless T-shirts on men

Painted fingernails (for some reason most Parisians just paint their toenails)

Facial makeup on women, especially the type applied with a spatula

That's funny! I just paint my toenails too. To be fair, manicures cost a lot of money here and no one looks closely at your toenails so you can do it yourself.

The other day I DID, however, see a tableful of retired French men and they were all wearing khaki pants. Brooks Brothers recently opened on the rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré. Coincidence?

I can spot Americans by how they will stop in the middle of the sidewalk to check their phone or get their bearings. They don't make an attempt to step out of the way of other pedestrians.

I have seen a fair number of Parisians going to or coming from work in suits with plastic, white sneakers.

Quite a few German and Spanish tourists in Paris wear fanny packs.

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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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