Archive for September, 2010

Paris auto show 2010: green cars are in

September 30th, 2010 No comments

The New York Times wrote about the Paris auto show and its focus on hybrids. The show, whose website is here, lasts from October 2 to 17 at the Paris Expo – Porte de Versailles.

Excerpts below.

“Developing markets are where all the growth is,” Dennis DesRosiers, an independent auto analyst in Toronto, said. “North America and Western Europe have to face the music.”

As the Paris Auto Show, which opens to the media Thursday and to the general public Saturday, gets under way, that fundamental shift is driving the industry. The problem is that duplicating the Western pattern of car use in countries like China, India, and Brazil threatens not just to create more huge traffic jams like those evident lately outside Beijing, but to accelerate climate change resulting from a rise in the gases that contribute to global warming.

That is one reason the organizers of this year’s show have sought to focus attention on new technologies, with the theme “The Future, Today,” pointing to what many in the industry hope signals the successful commercialization of zero-emission electric cars.

Stay up all night Oct. 2 at Paris Nuit Blanche

September 29th, 2010 No comments

Have you ever wanted to stay out all night in Paris for a festival? Nuit Blanche this weekend is your chance. From 7pm to 7am, museums, monuments, swimming pools, theatres, cinemas, etc…will be open all night in Paris. I imagine there will be some concerns given the recent security measures put in place against a terrorist plot. But for now the show must go on.

What is Nuit Blanche? You can get some context and history here; it was started in Paris in 2002. Other helpful guides can be found on Go Paris and What’s on When.

You can see the official website here and also get information from the City of Paris here.

Unfortunately I’ll be missing it, though I’ll be in London so I can’t complain. In any case, information on 2010 Nuit Blanche can be found on the RATP (Paris metro) site (if you look under “actualites”). Message about metro below. Enjoy the festivities, revelers!

La RATP est partenaire de la 9ème édition de Nuit Blanche. Elle confirme son engagement en accompagnant les manifestations culturelles et artistiques se déroulant dans les secteurs géographiques desservis par ses réseaux.

La RATP, en lien avec la direction artistique de Nuit Blanche accueille et finance deux projets artistiques : Retouvez une oeuvre sonore de Dominique Blais sur la ligne 14 et une performance visuelle étonnante ‘Metroscope 2010’ à la station Saint Martin sous la direction de Laurent Ungerer sur la ligne 9 ! (partiellement ouverte toute la nuit)

The American Clubs of France – October events

September 29th, 2010 No comments

Click here to download the new PDF version of the American Clubs in France newsletter and event dates throughout France.

You can get in touch with them on their web site, which is currently under construction but has an email address so you can sign up for their newsletter.

Happy Networking!

France under terror threat alert in wider European plot

September 28th, 2010 2 comments

This is not to scare my readers but to inform them. For the past couple weeks, the threat alert in France has been high as intelligence agencies from the US and EU have picked up on widespread and credible hints at a terrorist plot of coordinated attacks on targets in Europe, particularly in France. This in the wake of French nationals being kidnapped in Niger by Al-Qaida affiliates and bomb alerts against the Eiffel Tower, and French transport systems.

French weekly Le Point talks about how the French government is communicating on this issue, with predictable criticism coming from left and right about how they are creating panic. But according to French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux, there is a “real threat of an imminent attack.” And Police Director Frédéric Péchenard adds that “we have serious indications from reliable intelligence sources that there is a risk of a big attack.”

Meanwhile, the CIA is upping drone attacks of militants in Pakistan in an effort to hamper terrorist threats against European targets.

As the Wall Street Journal stated:

“…Last week, France stepped up its level of vigilance over what was thought could be an imminent al Qaeda threat. Authorities said that they had uncovered a suicide bombing plot to attack the Paris subway linked to al Qaeda’s North African affiliate. They said the threat might be connected to France’s recent vote to ban the wearing of burqas, the head-to-toe garb worn by the most conservative Muslim women…”

The US Embassy in Paris has issued this warning against attacks.

Authorities are trying to prevent a repeat of the 1995 Paris metro bombings and related scares or something even worse.

Louis Caprioli, former anti-terrorist intelligence chief at DST (Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire) (former French intelligence services agency, now part of the larger DCRI), was interviewed by Le Figaro here below talking about how there is a real threat notably from Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb including Algerian networks that use women suicide bombers.

Stay alert, stay safe, but don’t let this interrupt your daily life, of course. Il faut vivre.

US travel tax angering EU, which could react with similar policy

September 28th, 2010 2 comments

In German news magazine Der Spiegel, European Union officials are responding negatively to a travel fee ESTA that the US is imposing on residents of countries that are currently not required to obtain visas to visit the US, “36 countries worldwide including every EU country except for Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland and Romania.” Although the $14 fee is small, $10 of it goes to promoting tourism in the US. While the US economy is certainly not at its strongest point, it is the #2 travel destination in visitors (France is #1) and already pulls in the most revenue. This fee, combined with notorious US customs and immigration officials, make for a very unwelcoming and unattractive image of America abroad as a travel destination. This is undermining our global image and respect. I certainly hope this policy is repealed and that the EU does not retaliate with similar measures.

Excerpts below.

European Union Up in Arms over US Travel Tax

“European Union officials are furious with a new US fee mandatory for most travelers from Europe. Calling the charge tantamount to a new visa requirement, the EU is now considering introducing a similar fee for American travelers. Fourteen dollars may not sound like a lot. But this autumn, the sum — in the shape of the new fee being charged by the United States to some overseas visitors coming into the country — is proving enough to inflame tempers in the European Union. This month, an increasing number of members of the European Parliament and other EU officials are blasting the charge for being both incongruous and for running counter to US-EU agreements.

“I think it is a bit bizarre to introduce a tax to promote tourism,” intoned Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a member of European Parliament with Germany’s business-friendly Free Democratic Party during a recent debate on the issue in Strasbourg. In addition to pointing out that such a tax could actually dissuade people from traveling to the US, Lambsdorff also said “it seems a bit absurd that the US of all countries would tax people who are not represented in this debate. Taxation without representation, I believe, has played a certain role in American history.”

At issue is the so-called Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), a $14 fee which travelers from 36 countries now have to pay prior to visiting the US. While $4 dollars of the fee is to be for ESTA administrative costs, $10 is to pay for US efforts to promote the US as a tourism destination. Travelers to the US, in effect, are being asked to pay for the advertising aimed at encouraging them to travel to the country…Now, the EU is exploring the possibility of introducing a similar system for travellers from the US, according to the European Commission for Home Affairs. A “policy study” is currently being undertaken to investigate the feasibility of such a fee…

…The US fee applies only to travelers from countries not currently required to obtain a visa prior to travel — a list comprising 36 countries worldwide including every EU country except for Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland and Romania. In a parliamentary debate last week, several members of the European Parliament (MEPs) complained that the fee was simply a different kind of visa, particularly given that those travelers who do not pay the fee can be refused entry into the US…

…The fee, part of a tourism promotion package pushed through primarily by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has been controversial in the travel industry as well. “It’s like inviting a friend over for dinner and then charging them a fee at the door,” Steve Lott, a representative for the International Air Transport Association, told CNN earlier this month. “If the idea is to make the United States more welcoming and to increase tourism, raising the entry fee seems to be counterintuitive to what you’re trying to do.”

European Commission officials have promised to take up the issue in upcoming meetings with their US counterparts. Speaking on behalf of EU foreign policy representative Catherine Ashton, EU State Secretary for European Affairs Olivier Chastel insisted that “the EU places great importance on the issue of reciprocity” when it comes to trans-Atlantic travel. He said his office “will pull out all the stops to work with the Commission to establish the principle of reciprocity on travel…”

International Expat Expo in Lyon Sep. 26

September 24th, 2010 1 comment

This Sunday Lyon a la carte will be hosting the Expat Expo in Lyon. I’ve been there before, it’s a very informative event and a great opportunity to network with other expats.

You can find more information here, and here.

Categories: Expat life, France, Lyon Tags: , ,

Vote absentee next week at US Embassy Paris for mid-terms

September 24th, 2010 No comments

I just got this email from the US Embassy in Paris for voting information:

Cast your vote now for the November 2, 2010 general elections.

Absentee Voting Week is September 27 – October 2, 2010. During this week, the U.S. Embassy in Paris will have a Voting Station at the Consulate where you can ask questions, fill out absentee voting registration forms or submit your voted ballot.

Please share this information with all eligible U.S. citizens voters residing in France.

You can read more on this PDF that I’ve put up for you.

Dual citizens can vote too!

French reform likely to pass despite threat of ongoing strikes

September 24th, 2010 No comments

In the wake of the second round of strikes on Sep. 23 after Sep. 7, unions are calling for continued protest against French government plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62, and 65 to 67 for full pension access, among other details in a large, long-overdue reform of the retirement and pension system.

Labor Minister Eric Woerth said that the strike movement was not as big on Sep. 23 and was in effect waning. Of course there was much divergence on analysis of participation, between 1 and 3 million protesting (from police estimates to union estimates). This is often the case.

As the reform text will most likely be passed in the Senate Oct. 5, after having already been approved by the Assemblée Nationale, most French people realize that these protests will not change the government’s core policy proposals. In a Figaro poll, nearly 85% of people out of more than 31,000 said that the “retirement reform would come to fruition despite the strikes and protests”.

But the left is not backing down and Socialist Party head and Lille mayor Martine Aubry has vowed that if the Socialists win the presidency in 2012, they will bring retirement back to 60. For now, the unions are speaking about October strikes possibly affecting weekend traffic. They do not want to give up just yet.

We’ll see how this plays out. In the event of continued strikes, stay tuned to American Expat in France.

Europe’s “austerity measures” hitting some hard

September 24th, 2010 No comments

In this New York Times special report, Europeans speak out on government plans across the continent to bring public finances under control amid corruption and suspicion of governments not doing enough for the common man. Well this currently in France amid protests against raising the retirement age as part of a larger pension reform package to help control spending. Those who are protesting see bankers getting large bonuses while they are forced to work longer. But France’s retirement age is the lowest in Europe and many French know that their social safety net cannot remain the same for future generations.

You can see a series of insightful video interviews from Athens, Madrid, Paris, London and Frankfurt here.

Also, an interactive map of Europe’s debt crisis.

“…Some acknowledged that they might have contributed to the crisis by spending beyond their means, and said there was probably no alternative to bailing out banks and countries like Greece to prevent a wider downturn. They are, grudgingly, willing to accept cuts in pensions and salaries, provided that politicians, whom they see as complicit in the crisis, quickly clean up the mess. Yet despite the problems, they would also be unhappy to see the European Union unwind…’We are part of a generation who knows that things can vanish,” said Mathilde Donovan, 29, a French public relations executive….”

French advertising breaking traditional language rules

September 23rd, 2010 3 comments

This Economist blog puts an everyday French reality into perspective for those new to advertising in this country. As I work in PR, I think the strategy here is easy to remember catch phrases combined with a desire by companies to speak this generation’s social language. It makes sense, but it is sometimes hard on the ears for those accustomed to the beauty and poetic nature of traditional French. I know franglais (a mix of English and French) certainly is being more accepted but still irks and even irritates staunch supporters of la langue française.

Sep 22nd 2010, 15:33 by S.P. | PARIS

SPOTTED this morning on an advertising hoarding in the Paris metro: the most extravagant mix of phoneticised French and franglais I have yet come across. It was an ad for Keljob (quel job), a recruitment agency, promising “le speed recrutement” and “des ateliers coaching” (atelier meaning workshop in French).

The number of French firms using phonetic spelling is proliferating. Alongside Keljob there is Kiloutou (qui loue tout, or who rents everything), a machinery-rental company, or Kelcoo (quel cout, or what price), a price-comparison internet service. Then there is Meetic (mythique) an online dating site, Sajoo (ça joue, or it’s playing), a web gambling site, and Amagiz (à ma guise, in my own way), an insurer. The phonetic shorthand of text-messaging in French—kdo for cadeau (present) and so forth—has certainly helped to overturn the traditional rules of the language, particularly for companies whose brand is all about upending conventions.

The intrusion of franglais into French advertising also continues apace. Examples that spring to mind include Livret BforBank, Crédit Agricole’s new online private bank, or Freebox, the digital television decoder from Free, a French telecoms firm. Many companies simply splash a slogan in English on their ads, and then translate it in small print on the bottom as is required by French law.

What makes Keljob’s ad stand out is the brazen mix of all of the above. The French have a body whose job it is to defend the purity of the French language. Article 24 of the statutes of the Académie Française state that “The principal function of the Académie is to work, with all possible care and diligence, to give clear rules to our language and to render it pure, eloquent and capable of treating arts and science.” While the académiciens toil away, the creatives of the French advertising world seem to be busy throwing out their rules with abandon.

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