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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« Big hair versus Paris hair | Main | Anomalies of French life: the dictée »


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" Embassy duty. I always wonder if this is what happens when you displease your superior. "
No, it is what happens when you are on the last ranks of results at the national "concours" to enter the police force. The first ranks can choose their job and the last ones take what is left ie embassy duty.
Fot the death, police is still a safe job compared to construction worker, and I mean percentage of death.

Maxine is right, you get the Embassy or Elysée duty when you don't do well on the national exam. A friend of mine's husband did it for 2 years on the night shift and said it was terrible (boring and really hard on his back).

And same with the ones you see on the streets - they are all young because they are the newbies straight out of school. It's hard work, and most move to another post as soon as they can.

Also, historically-speaking, most of the Parisian cops came from outside of Paris so that they would be less likely to unite and rise up against the government (to fight for a city that was not their own). That is why they are the National Police and not Municipal police. As a side note, Municipal police handle towns with more than 10-20,000 people and the gendarmes handle the towns under 10-20,000 and the countryside.

PS. Just so you know, you're allowed to take pictures of French police, CRS, etc, but you're not really supposed to post them online because of 'droit à l'image'. Journalists get an exception though if the picture is useful for showing un événement d'actualité.

Thanks Sam and Maxine! I've always wondered who gets stuck with that job. Also thank you Sam for the clarifications! I never knew all that. As for the photos, they're from Flickr/Creative Commons where a lot more people will see them than here; but I guess I could blur the faces if anyone complained. Anyway isn't a blog journalism? ;)

Do they still have police on roller skates? When I lived in Paris I would often see them in tourist areas - a pickpocket had to be very fleet indeed to elude them. And they were always young and looked like they LOVED their work! [Good grades?]

Hi Nan! They definitely still have them. They're perfect for all the pedestrian zones and tourist areas. They love nothing better than going after a perp-- I have seen them grinning as they take off. I wonder if they just have to pass a test for fitness, or something else too? There are always at least two of them, though. I've never seen one alone.

I've seen them on Segways as well (Rueil-Malmaison)

Really? How funny! I tend to assume everyone I see on a Segway here is an American tourist.

Where do they go?

I have no idea where they were going, but they were along the race course (2 of them togather, of course) for the Rueil-Malmaison Semi-Marathon,s oi presume they were acting as security for it. They were right across from the church where Josephine and Hortense are buried, so maybe they were guarding it?

Actually, the blue vans (like the one on your picture in the background) are from the Gendarmerie Mobile, the riot and more military-oriented units of the Gendarmerie Nationale. They were created to handle worker unions riots after the use of military units for crowd control went sideways and resulted in many deaths (in the 1800s). The use blue vehicles like the rest of the Gendarmerie.
The CRS have white vans (like the rest of the Police forces)and a slightly different uniform with the white CRS crest on them.

Oh, thanks Aurélien! I'm not that well-informed on my police and gendarmes, obviously... merci!

I definitely see the blue vans around more than the white ones.

Just an aside to something noted above about police municipale in towns with a certain population and "gendarmes for the smaller towns"... some smaller towns are now policed by "Police Rurale".

I wonder if other countries have so many different kinds of police!

Why is being a cop so easy in Paris? Our cops are always begging for money each election as they are "short-staffed." I would say the city I live in is pretty safe, but then again we recently had a school shooting in one of the suburbs (second one in the state's history). Anyway, it seems the money they get has been going towards retrofitting their cars with GPS, iPads, and themselves with portable videocameras (I support this).

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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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