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Archive for May, 2010

The “bilingual brain” and its benefits: more reason to learn French

According to BBC, those who speak two languages fluently may have added brain benefits. Excerpts:

A project at Bangor University aims to explore the benefit of being bilingual.
Researchers will be recruiting 700 people aged between two and 80 to take part in the £750,000 programme.
Prof Virginia Gathercole said the obvious benefits included being able to converse and to participate in two cultures.
But she said there was also evidence of non-language benefits, such as the ability to protect the brain from ageing.
“The very act of being able to speak, listen, and think in two languages and of using two languages on a daily basis appears to sharpen people’s abilities to pay close attention to a aspects of tasks relevant to good performance,” she added.

Categories: French Tags: , ,

Positive outlook for expatriate job market?

This Expatica article, based on the 2010 Hydrogen Global Professionals on the Move Report, states that for expats, finding work abroad is easier than thought. What are your experiences?

Expats find jobs despite ongoing economic crisis

“…You may have heard the saying, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” It appears that is exactly what elite professionals around the world are doing. A newly-released survey says top-level professionals, earning an average of USD 125,000 (EUR 98,000) per year, are not slowing down when it comes to looking for work outside their home countries. The same group of mid- to senior- level professionals also says they are still finding jobs, despite the global recession.

According to the 2010 Hydrogen Global Professionals on the Move Report, more than 3,000 professionals from 76 nations said they were actively looking for work abroad or had already found jobs outside their home countries. Of that group, 60 percent said the global recession had no impact on their job search.

More women work abroad….the study included men and women from Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East; most over 31 years old. According to this report, while more men were willing to work abroad; more women were actually working abroad….”

Categories: Expat life, work in France Tags:

French prejudices increasing

According to an article by AFP (via Expatica), a poll conducted by BVA has demonstrated racist tendencies among the French. Of course, as with all polls, there are many factors that influence – question wording, tone of voice, social pressure, time of the day asked…etc. Some may argue that these views are based on everyday realities in France, and others consider it outright racism. It’s safe to say that this exists in every country, but I just wanted to highlight an element in France, a country trying to reconcile its past and traditions with its evolving and increasingly multi-ethnic identity. Excerpts below:

More than one in 10 French people admit to being racist and many have prejudicial views of immigrants, homosexuals, blacks, Arab and Jews, according to a survey released Sunday.
A poll by the BVA institute for two anti-discrimination groups found, for example, that 30 percent of the French agree with the idea that Jews have more influence on finance and the media than other groups.
Almost as many, 28 percent, think that Arabs are more likely to commit crimes than members of other groups, a number that has more than doubled since a similar poll was conducted last year.
A significant minority of the French, 15 percent, admit to being “rather or a bit racist”, up one percent on the previous study. Almost half of respondents, 49 percent, thought that immigrants are better able to exploit the social welfare system than are the native French, and 12 percent said homosexuals were more obsessed by sex than others….

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Eurozone crisis in graphics

BBC has a fantastic guide to an otherwise discouraging subject: the debt and deficit levels in the Eurozone. As you can see, France’s national debt is at 77.6% of GDP, and its deficit is 7.5%, which makes it about the middle of the Eurozone and enough for major concern.

One of the main causes of the currency crisis in the eurozone is that virtually all countries involved have breached their own self-imposed rules.

Under the convergence criteria adopted as part of economic and monetary union, government debt must not exceed 60% of GDP at the end of the fiscal year. Likewise, the annual government deficit must not exceed 3% of GDP. However, as the maps show, only two of the 16 eurozone countries – Luxembourg and Finland – have managed to stick to both rules.

Overall, Greece is the worst offender, with debt at 115.1% of GDP and a deficit of 13.6% of GDP. But among the bigger economies, Italy’s debt is even higher than Greece’s as a percentage of GDP, while Spain’s deficit is 11.2% of GDP. If the UK were in the eurozone, it would also fall foul of the criteria, with its debt now standing at 68.1% of GDP and its deficit at 11.5% of GDP.

Categories: Economics, Europe Tags: , , , ,

Man leaps from Eiffel Tower on roller skates

From BBC video:

Crowds in Paris watched nervously on Saturday as world champion skater Taig Khris set a new Guinness world record by jumping off the Eiffel Tower with roller skates on.

He launched himself from the famous monument before landing on a giant ramp below.

Jonathon Hall reports.

Categories: Paris Tags:

Participate in the 2010 HSBC Expat Explorer Survey

from the HSBC website

The HSBC Expat Explorer Survey takes the pulse every year of expats around the globe to give insight into trends, wealth level, best places to raise children, and general quality of life in dozens of countries. You can find the 2009 report here.

You can fill out this year’s survey here. According to HSBC, it takes 10-15 minutes to fill out and is totally anonymous. The message below courtesy of Expatica.

This is the third time HSBC Bank International is conducting the survey.

In 2009, over 3,100 expats from more than 50 countries across the globe participated in the survey. The 2009 survey also found that a large percentage of expats had been strongly affected by the global downturn, with a higher number in the UK and US admitting that they were considering a move back to their home country.

Other key findings from the 2009 research included:

• Despite the economic crisis, expats were wealthier and saved more than in their country of origin
• Emerging markets ranked above established centres for expat finances
• Canada, Australia and Thailand were the top three locations for expat lifestyle, with established markets in general outperforming emerging markets
• Australia ranked number one for raising children, followed by Singapore and Hong Kong

Help spread the word
“Expats from a huge range of countries took part in the survey last year but we couldn’t feature some locations because there weren’t enough respondents to meet our statistical criteria,” said Lisa Wood, Head of Marketing and Communications at HSBC Bank International.

“We would love to have them involved in 2010 and that’s why we are asking expats from all over the globe to not only fill out the survey themselves, but to also pass it around to any expat friends, family and colleagues in order to make sure that their country doesn’t miss out again.”

The 2010 survey will continue to take an in-depth look at expat life, examining how this unique group experiences new cultures, new lifestyles and, importantly, how they have been dealing with a new financial landscape as the world continues to recover from the global economic crisis.

Champs-Elysees turns into a farm

Philippe Wojazer/Reuters; Visitors walked on the Champs-Élysées near the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris on Sunday during a two-day farm event.

The BBC reported on this unique event staged to raise awareness for farming and agriculture. The New York Times as well. As a communications professional, I can only imagine the organization that is going into this. Unfortunately I’ll be unable to visit but for those who do go, I’d be interested in hearing your impressions of this incredible exhibit.

French farmers turn Champs-Elysees into huge farm

One of Paris’s main thoroughfares, the Champs-Elysees, has been covered in earth and turned into a huge green space in an event staged by young French farmers.They want to highlight their financial problems, caused by falling prices for agricultural produce. Plants, trees and flowers were brought in by lorry overnight to transform the avenue into a long green strip.

More than a million people are expected to visit over the next two days.The event, which cost 4.2m euros (£3.6m; $5.3m) to stage, has been organised by the French Young Farmers (Jeunes Agriculteurs) union over the holiday weekend in France….

….Only in France are you ever likely to see such a monumental mobilisation of creativity and resources, all in the cause of that beloved but beleaguered figure: the French farmer, says the BBC’s Hugh Schofield in Paris.

Overnight, 8,000 plots of earth have been brought into central Paris, and on Sunday morning, from the Arc de Triomphe down, the Champs-Elysees is one vast green space.

Some 150,000 plants have been installed – including 650 fully grown trees – representing agricultural produce from the marshes of the Camargue to the plains of Picardy, our correspondent adds. Visitors will be able to buy boxes of the earth for their own gardens.

French Open could move from Roland Garros to Versailles

I took this story from ESPN (the U.S. sports network), and it could be of interest to those who follow the French Open….my emphasis in boldface.

French Open options include Versailles

May 22, 2010 – Associated Press

PARIS — Don’t count defending champion Roger Federer and four-time winner Justine Henin among fans of a proposal to hold the French Open outside Paris beginning in 2016.

Gilbert Ysern, general director of the French tennis federation, told a news conference on Saturday that relocating the clay-court Grand Slam from Roland Garros is being considered because it needs more space to remain competitive with the three other major tournaments.

Three options are being examined, including one next to Versailles castle. Another possible site is near Disneyland Paris. The French Open has been at Roland Garros since 1928 and the federation has a contract there till 2015. The French federation assembly is expected to make its decision in February.

“I think by the time I finish my career, the tournament will still be at Roland Garros,” Federer said. “I don’t know if the French Open will one day move to Disney, I doubt it. There is more space outside the city, I understand, but come on . . . ”

Henin accepted that space is an issue at Roland Garros, but said its tradition is one of the French Open’s main assets.”I hope they find a solution to keep the tournament here,” she said. “The tradition is here. This is my favorite tournament. Maybe [a move outside Paris] will happen. You need to be realistic. Compared to other Grand Slam tournaments, which are always getting bigger, it has become difficult in terms of space. Everyone knows that.”

Among the Grand Slam tournaments, only the French Open and Wimbledon have never been moved. While Wimbledon has been updated, facilities at Roland Garros have become outdated. The lack of space for 450,000 annual spectators, players, journalists and sponsors is a problem, while the absence of covered courts leaves the tournament vulnerable to the weather.

“We have to create the Roland Garros of 2040,” French federation vice president Bernard Giudicelli said. “We will do everything to make sure that Roland Garros 2016 will be played in a bigger and modernized stadium.”
The French Open’s facilities are spread over 21 acres, while Melbourne Park — the site of the Australian Open — and Wimbledon each have 49 acres. Flushing Meadows, site of the U.S. Open, has 34.5 acres.

“Some players told us they cannot imagine leaving Paris,” Ysern said. “But if we stay, we have to modernize the facilities to aim for excellency. We need more space and a retractable roof over the center court.”

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga said there is only one Roland Garros. “I would prefer to stay here and make the tournament bigger here because this site is wonderful,” Tsonga said.

If the tournament stays in Paris, three adjoining areas will be added to Roland Garros at a cost of about $251 million. Building a new stadium outside Paris would cost an estimated $754 million.

Versailles castle is 12 miles from downtown Paris. Disneyland Paris in Marne-La-Vallee is 30 miles from the French capital.

Should the tournament be relocated, preliminary designs envision a 74-acre site with 55 tennis courts — two with a retractable roof — that would be able to receive up to 60,000 people a day.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

Chicago “Sister Cities” Soccer Tournament features Paris Saint-Germain

This event will take place this week, featuring PSG for the first time in North America….

…Famed Parisian club Paris Saint-Germain, one of the most decorated outfits in French soccer, has won two Ligue 1 titles, seven Coupes de France, a record three Coupes de la Ligue and two Trophées des Champions. In addition to their domestic triumphs, PSG won the 1996 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. Les Parisiens feature French World Cup finalist and Champions League winner (Real Madrid) midfielder Claude Makélélé along with former Barcelona striker Ludovic Giuly and former France national team goalkeeper Grégory Coupet.

“Paris Saint-Germain Football Club is delighted to participate in its first soccer tournament in the United States. PSG is privileged and honored to represent the City of Paris in the Chicago Sister Cities International Cup,” said Paris Saint-Germain President Robin Leproux. “We expect that our participation in this tournament will improve PSG’s recognition in North America and increase our US fan base. We are looking forward to the support of the large French community living in the Chicago area for our games at Toyota Park….”

Categories: Paris Tags: , , ,

Paris security expecting 50,000 at “giant apéro” on Champ-de-Mars May 23rd

Le record du plus grand apéro de France est prévu le 23 mai, au Champ-de-Mars, à Paris © VALINCO/SIPA

A Facebook group has organized what it hopes to be the biggest apéro (apéritif) in France with more than 50,000 people expected….but authorities are concerned that it could get out of hand, as it is planned for on the Champ-de-Mars and a similar event in Nantes (with 9,000 participants) witnessed the death of a young man. Parts of article below in French:

La perspective d’un apéro géant au Champ-de-Mars inquiète les élus parisiens
AFP/Le Point 14 mai 2010

“Le maire de Paris et les responsables UMP de la capitale se sont prononcés vendredi contre l’organisation via Facebook d’un “apéro géant” baptisé “Record du plus grand apéro de France à Paris” le 23 mai au Champ-de-Mars (VIIe arr.). Ils se sont déclarés solidaires des initiatives de la préfecture de police (PP) qui a ouvert le 6 mai son propre compte Facebook pour mettre en garde contre “les risques graves liés à la gestion de foule”, susceptible de réunir plus de 50.000 personnes.

Après le décès à Nantes d’un homme de 21 ans lors de l’une de ces manifestations la préfecture a de nouveau mis en garde sur Facebook les organisateurs et les personnes relayant l'”apéro géant” du Champ-de-Mars sur les “risques graves” d’un rassemblement non “organisé et encadré”. Dans deux messages distincts, la PP “souhaite attirer” leur “attention sur les risques graves pour la sécurité des participants que ferait courir un grand rassemblement de personnes s’il n’était pas organisé et encadré par ses promoteurs tant sur le plan de la sécurité civile et sanitaire que sur celui de la gestion du public”. “La consommation d’alcool est strictement interdite sur le Champ-de-Mars” et nul “ne pourrait apporter sur le site des boissons alcoolisées sans commettre une infraction”, ajoute-t-elle.

Une semaine après le lancement des “invitations” pour le 23 mai, l’incident mortel de Nantes “confirme les risques de grave dérapage que présente ce type de rassemblements dont l’objectif affiché est d’inviter le maximum de gens à consommer le maximum d’alcool dans des lieux publics où la sécurité et la protection sanitaire des personnes peuvent être difficilement assurées”, a déclaré le maire de Paris Bertrand Delanoë (PS)…”

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