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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From the author of the dîners de reveillon post, a thanks for the shout-out - and I hope your dîner was delicious and that you have a happy new year!

As for the burning of cars... it is an unfortunate tradition, and where it came from is a good question. I would assume it started as something people did during riots rather than as a celebratory thing...? But why did it become a celebratory thing? My own feeling about the numbers -- I assume Valls felt it was something people wanted to know, and perhaps they (the government / the people most shocked by it) are hoping an exact accounting will lead to greater crackdowns in the future? (Not that I'm sure a police crackdown would be the way to go, knowing the French - could just lead to riots.)

I heard that the stats have been published city by city before, so car burning became a competitive sport. Not sure what can be done about it though, because it must be hard to catch the perpetrators.

In the case of the car burned under my window, we figured out later it must have been done for the insurance! The car was a jalopy from the provinces and the burners didn't touch any of the cars around it (although one burned from being too close). I wonder if people save up to burn cars till New Year's Eve?

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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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