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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Hi Sedulia, My dad was in wave 2 on D-Day and didn't really like the French either, though he said it was because they always had their cigs hanging on their lips! He also had wonderful stories of being out in the country, hiding in a barn, and being served wine and then champagne by the French farmer. I just read the letter he wrote to my aunts about being in Paris over the New Year in 1944 and drinking himself sober on good cognac. My father was not a drinking man which was maybe why these unusual (for him) incidents stood out in his memories. I still have the beautiful compact with the Tour Eiffel and bracelet stamped "toi et moi" he brought for my mother from wartime Paris.

My uncle, though, was in D-Day +7 and ended up marrying a French girl he met on the Paris metro. They lived happily ever after.

I think that a lot of GIs had complaints about the French, and that concerned the Allies. I still have a booklet my uncle brought home called 112 Gripes About the French, which answered each one with a logical reason the French were that way. The main reason for most of them seemed to be that the French had just been through two hard wars fought on their soil, and just weren't as privileged in their living conditions as most Americans were.

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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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