Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Friday, May 18, 2012

Duh duh duh duh....

I almost don't even want to write about this for fear of the hoards of people it will send in their direction, but I have an official scoop for all of my dear readers. Drum roll please....the Paris Chipotle will be up and open for business starting next Thursday, May 24th!
It's been a long time coming, with the original opening set for June 2011 (and then August, and then October & then February 2012), but the day has finally come when we will all be able to get our fill of their tasty burritos and lime tortilla chips.

Anyone want to meet me for lunch there on opening day?

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A little piece of Versailles in your daily commute

Those of you who take the RER C on a regular basis might soon be lucky enough to ride in one of the six newly-decorated "Chateau de Versailles" cars that will soon be circulating.

The project is a joint effort between the SNCF, the city of Versailles and the château, and they used high-res photos to create film panels that were then screwed into place. There are seven different themes: The Hall of Mirrors, The Battles Gallery, The Temple of Love, The Queen's Chamber, The Grand Trianon, Charles X's Royal Carriage and Louis XVI's Library.  The SNCF estimates your chances of riding in there as 1 in 5. 

 Here is a short video done by France 3 explaining the project (in French):

Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Passation 2012

I'm currently watching the swearing in of the new French President on TV.  One of the things that has really struck me in this campaign is how little François Hollande's female companion has been brought up.  For those of you who don't know, he started a relationship with Valerie Trierweiler back in 2005. At that time, François Hollande was still with Ségolène Royal, the candidate defeated by Sarkozy in the 2007 elections.  And Ms Trierweiler was also still married to her husband. And yet it was a complete non-issue during the campaign - the other side didn't even think to bring it up as a defense mechanism.

Can you imagine a couple like this ever even having a chance in hell of making to the White House in the US? Hell, Bill Clinton was almost impeached for his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky - yet in this case, both spouses were full-on cheating on their partners and here they are, about to take over as France's head of state and move in to l'Elysée.

I'm not writing this to judge them, more so to comment on the difference in mentalities between my two countries. I find it interesting that Americans tend to feel that one's personal actions are also a reflection of how they will react in their public life. Whereas they are completely separate for the French - a politician can be sleeping around with anything that moves and yet still be considered a perfectly good candidate (example: DSK).

Historically-speaking, what French politicians have done on their own time has always been hush-hush, even though it was quite well known in the journalistic circles that many of them had mistresses (and some even had children with them).  But up until recently, they were never followed by paparazzi and those kinds of subjects were just left alone. 

That tide started to change with Sarkozy however - known as the "Bling bling" president, he was followed anywhere he went in order to find proof he was living the high life.  He and Carla were even photographed on a yacht in their swimsuits, which was quite the shocking revelation as no other president had ever been photographed in such a "private way" during his off hours.

I'm not sure what my feelings are exactly on this subject.  On one hand, I do think that if someone thinks it's okay to cheat on his wife, he might not have the best scruples and that does call into question his ability to make sound decisions for an entire country.  But on the other hand, I'm not sure if I agree with people's private lives becoming such public domain.

So let's put it to a blog poll:

Labels: ,

Sunday, May 6, 2012

You want me to pay how much??

The other day, I came across this image in Ouest-France, showing the average hourly cost of employing someone in each of the European countries.  It came as no surprise to me that France was one of the most expensive in Europe, coming in at 34.20€ per hour. When you compare that to the 3-8€ per hour that it costs in the Eastern block countries, is it any wonder so many French companies have been tempted to relocate East?

I have certainly seen the higher effect of these wages on my customers - more and more and preferring to use temp workers instead of hiring people on the famous CDI like they used to. Even though temp workers cost more per hour, with the way the market fluctuates, it is still cheaper to go that route than to have to let people on permanent contracts go during slow periods.  It is having a big effect on me since the temps aren't trained and often don't stick around long enough to even be trained, so you are always dealing with new people who don't know what's going on and who often don't care.

I also work with a lot of small, family businesses, and I know they are anxiously awaiting the results of this election. Everyone is worried about what will help - some what things to change, others are worried that it will. I try not to talk French politics with my customers, so instead I just sympathize about the difficulties of running a small business in today's economy. I imagine my industry isn't the only one dealing with this issue, and that there are people all across France waiting to see what will happen tonight....

Labels: ,

Friday, May 4, 2012

How you doin'?

C and I were walking back home from the Luxembourg Gardens the other day, and came across this little guy.  Doesn't he just crack you up?  I would love to know the story of how he ended up on some random balcony, in only his birthday suit:


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Le Mans

I travel to a lot of different cities for my job, but now that I am married to C, I don't often take the time to check out the new ones - getting home after a week away has become more of a priority.  But a few weeks ago, I found myself with a non-refundable train ticket and a few hours to spare, so instead of heading to the station to wait, I parked the car and decided to walk around Le Mans, a city I had been through many times but never visited.
The only thing I really knew about Le Mans is that they had the famous 24 heures du Mans, the annual 24 hour car race circuit held every June.  So it was a surprise to discover that the city had a fantastically-preserved old town, called the Cité Plantagenêt and/or le Vieux Mans.
I would have loved to have had this as my bedroom as a child.  If you look closely, you'll see a teddy bear waving hello, so I must not be the only one to feel this way:
One of the things I really loved about the city was how things just seemed to be built on top of the other. This picture shows several old doors that have long been filled in, plus a blue door that leads to who knows where.
 There were also all kinds of homes with fabulous doors:
 I don't know about you, but I would be quite happy to live at either Number 18 or 20 on this street:
And then there was this door  and it's crooked entrance:
Gérard Depardieu filmed Cyrano de Bergerac here, and these little gun holes reminded me of that, and of the ancient history of the city, which goes back all the way to Roman times.
 The other thing that struck me about the city was the incredible detail in so many of the buildings:
 I've seen a lot of timbered cities in my day, but none have ever had the detail of those in old Le Mans:
These people obviously took great pride in their homes and there was a really interesting mix of building materials that I haven't seen elsewhere:
 Another really typical feather where these little figurines that graced the doors of many homes:

Lastly, there were several homes with turrets and the like, which is always fun:
There is also a pretty imposing cathedral:
 Detail of the cathedral door:
Lastly, I left the city with a smile on my face thanks to these city employees, who whooped and hollered as I walked by and yelled out that I was "charmante".
I'm not sure if there's enough to do to spend a whole day in Le Mans, but at only an hour from Paris, it'd be a great place to stop for lunch or dinner on your way in or out of town!

Labels: ,