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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I'm sorry for your loss.
I know the concept of "caveau familial" is a weird one for foreigners. Do you know that they are actually rented? It pobably changed with the legislation (what doesn't in France?) but it used to be you could either rent a "caveau" for life/ for 100 years/ 50 years and 25.
After that amount of time is passed, if the family doesn't renew the lease, the caskets, bones etc are scrapped and put in the "fausse commune", the marble is scrubbed and leaves place for the next family that will rent the caveau. Many old, welthy families have a "for life" caveau.
For the earth that americans throw on it, in my family, we all take turn to put flowers on top of the casket before it's lowered into the ground. (Later, not in front of the people as you said.)
Funny story, when i was young, i used to go in the cemetery and reditribute the flowers etc on the empty tombs, i thought it was so unfair some had many flowers and remembrance plaques, and others were bare.
Anyway, I hope you don't have to go back to another funeral!

How interesting! I don't like the idea of having to be moved later! I remember that in Venice it's like that– the cemetery island is permanent for only a few people. Every graveyard seems to fall into disrepair eventually, so I like this idea instead: where you turn into a tree!

Your redistribution of the flowers was nice. When my children were small, I used to take them to Père Lachaise every Toussaint with a bouquet of flowers apiece. They could choose whose graves to leave them on, and liked to leave them on the deserted ones.

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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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