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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« Anomalies of French life: the dictée | Main | Anomalies of French life: exams on holiday »


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UK school holiday calander is almost identical, the weeks are spread out through out the year instead of the full three months in summer. Vacation can happen when convenient instead of being restricted to just summer. Far better.

The French school day is too long, I would agree with that, having experienced it myself. Yet, what a relief for working moms who do not have to pay for expensive daycare after 3:00pm as they do in the US. As for the way the vacation schedule is organized, I much prefer the French one. Who needs three months off in the summer? What are parents supposed to do with the children while they are working? Summer camps are so expensive...

As for other breaks, my son is a 7th grader and he never gets to really unwind during mid-winter or spring breaks (he just gets one week off.) There is no real break between September and Christmas either. The children are exhausted by the end of the first quarter. I would much rather he had the Toussaint Holiday in October...

Different cultures. Different approach to leisure time, and life in general.
Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

France is also the only country that I know that designed the "zones" for school holidays. I.e. Parisian kids start their holiday later than kids in Nice (or the opposite, can't remember).

Don't forget that kids in France have every wednsday off - which is a big problem for both working parents. Besides that, kids in France they have a lot of days off and holidays! I live in France for more than 1 year but I've noticesd that in my country children they don't have so many days off like in France. In my opinion is even too much - when you and your husband works - you have a big problems with days off from school for your children.

In other eauropean countries there are zones for winter vacation for example. France is not the only one in that matter.

Just to add that most public schools in America have afterschool programs which enable working parents to pick their kids up at 5:00pm when the workday is over. Also, there are school buses allowing kids to be "latch-kay" kids and don't rely on parents to pick them up at the end of the day.

What I know is that by 3:00, when I was a kid, I was ready to go home and rest. I really dread my daughter spending so much of her day at school. I wish there was some opt out option.

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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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