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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« Les racines (the roots) | Main | The cowardice of the ... Americans »


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A beautiful and well worded story of your aborted trip home. Adjustment of perspective, that's what we need in these cold times. From Amsterdam, with admiration for your blog,

Thank you Godeke! The French say "Il faut rélativiser."

I used to live in Amsterdam, by the way! For six months in 2010. It was right when the Dutch were winning the World Cup, so that was fun. What a lovely city.

This is so powerful. Thank you.

What a story. Sometimes when one feels down something like this will make one value what we have. I read that Vietnamese and other Asian children whose father was French would become French citizen upon arriving in France. Asian children with US fathers can get “green cards” not citizenship, and only if they find some US citizen willing to sponsor them into this country. So many Asians-Americans cannot leave their countries and are subject to a lot of persecution still, and there are a lot more with US than French fathers… then once immigrants get in the US it’s not that easy.
While in Venice I met some Italians from Sicily who went, as tourists, to visit the US for a couple of weeks (we spoke in Italian) – unfortunately they went to Arizona, and being dark haired, etc., they were taken to the Police station there until an Italian translator was found and they could show their passports. They said to me they don’t want to come back here, ever, that an American tourist is never taken to the police in Italy because of his looks.

What an awful story! America can be a weird place these days, and people who haven't traveled elsewhere don't realize quite how much.

A story that brings serenity..thanks

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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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