Archive for November, 2010

Bonjour Paris this week: UNESCO France sites, etc.

November 28th, 2010 4 comments

In this week’s Bonjour Paris, I wrote a column about the UNESCO World Heritage sites in France (all 35 of them). Make sure to check out Bonjour Paris for other interesting pieces and travel tips.

Sarkozy, Bettencourt & the media: my comments on Al-Jazeera

November 27th, 2010 No comments

Al-Jazeera English recently approached me to comment on a story about French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the Bettencourt Affair and the government’s influence on French media. The background story can be found here and the video report here. I’ve also embedded the video below.

The French story goes from 12:25 to 20:36, with my comments featured from 19:33 to 19:56. It was edited of course, so I’ve posted my original full comments below the video (my goal being to provide a balanced perspective). Very interesting story for a quality news organization, so I was glad to contribute.

My full comment, pre-edited:

Many people have accused French President Nicolas Sarkozy of interfering in the press to advance his personal agenda and those of his administration.

Mr. Sarkozy indeed has close friends who control a significant portion of the media (newspapers, magazines, TV and radio). They include Arnaud Lagardère, Serge Dassault, Martin Bouygues, Bernard Arnault and François Pinault. Mr. Sarkozy also holds sway at France Televisions, the state-run TV company.

Most recently his government has been accused of spying on journalists and their sources at Le Monde who helped uncover the alleged Bettencourt scandal. The government denies any wrongdoing in this affair.

So while Sarkozy does hold sway in the media, there remains a healthy presence of leftwing and moderate media that is critical of his administration. So what emerges is a delicate political balance that could be threatened if allegations of wrongdoing prove correct.

French TV Thanksgiving special on M6

November 26th, 2010 No comments

If you remember not long ago, I posted an announcement to find an American or Franco-American family in the Paris area willing to be featured on French TV station M6 for the program 100% Mag. Well they found a family and just on Thursday the family was featured on the program.

You can watch it here (for Thursday Nov 25). The part with Thanksgiving starts at about 5:40 and lasts until about the 12:50 mark. Very interesting program! A summary of the episode can be found here.

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving! Cheers.

Bastille secrets revealed: exhibition until Feb. 11 in Paris

November 25th, 2010 1 comment

The BBC reports on new artifacts on display from the historic and notorious Bastille prison that was the focus point for the storming of the Bastille at the heart of the French revolution on July 14, 1789. Excerpts below. Video available on the link.

To learn more about the exhibition, click here (in French).

It is called La Bastille ou l’enfer des vivants (“The Bastille or the living hell”) and is open from now until February 11, 2011 at the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal.

Free visits Tuesday thru Sunday, noon to 7pm, and guided visits (3€) every Thursday at 3pm (registration required, +33 (0)1 53 79 49 49).

25 November 2010 Last updated at 06:46 GMT Help
More than 300 years after it was stormed by a furious mob, the Bastille prison in Paris still holds a special place in the heart of many French people.

Anger and resentment at the rule of King Louis XVI prompted the revolutionaries to invade the jail on 14 July 1789.

It was the start of the French revolution and is still celebrated as the birth of the republic.

A new exhibition has opened in Paris close to where the Bastille once stood, revealing some of the prison’s secrets.

The BBC’s Christian Fraser reports.

35 French sites classified by UNESCO as “World Heritage”

November 24th, 2010 5 comments

France24 lists the 35 sites around France that appear in UNESCO’s World Heritage site list. They include Mont St. Michel, the historic centers of Lyon & Avignon, Pont du Gard, the banks of the Seine in Paris, Fontainebleau, Versailles and Chartres, among other famous sites. The map below is from the original article on France24. All the more reason to visit this beautiful country!

French chefs serve it up in Paris metro, Nov. 23-25

November 23rd, 2010 No comments

Now you don’t have to pay les yeux de la tête to enjoy French gastronomy.

From Nov. 23 to Nov. 25, the Paris metro station Miromesnil at Espace Mezzanine (on lines 9 and 13) will play host to some quality chefs, at 12:30pm and 6pm (and 12:30, 4, 6pm on Nov. 23). Info below taken from the RATP website. Bon appétit!

La plus grande cuisine de France dans le métro
Du 23 au 25 novembre, à la station Miromesnil, de grands chefs vous proposent de découvrir la grande cuisine pour tous.

Après le succès de l’animation l’année dernière, les grands chefs (re) – descendent dans le Métro.

Du 23 au 25 novembre, la station Miromesnil (lignes 9 et 13), se transforme en relais gastronomique, sept chefs viennent à la rencontre des voyageurs distiller recettes et astuces et faire découvrir la grande cuisine pour tous.

Cette année Alain Senderens du Senderens à Paris, Antoine Westermann du Drouant à Paris, Bruno Doucet de la Régalade à Paris, Laurent André du Royal Monceau à Paris, Patrice Caillault du Domaine de Rochevilaine à Billiers, Patrice Hardy de La Truffe Noire à Neuilly et le boulanger Eric Kayser des Boulangeries Eric Kayser se mettront aux fourneaux pour vous donner leurs petits secrets pour manger mieux en dépensant moins.

Une opération, menée en partenariat avec Marc de Champerard, initiateur du guide du même nom.

Les grands chefs (re)-descendent dans le Métro du 23 au 25 novembre, deux fois par jour à 12h30 et 18h00 (12h30, 16h00 et 18h00 le mercredi) à la station Miromesnil Espace Mezzanine Nord

French strikes set for Nov. 23, but don’t expect large turnout

November 22nd, 2010 No comments

The contested pension reform has become French law, but some unions (CFDT, CGT, FSU, Solidaires, Unsacette) and other opponents to the measure are insisting that the strikes must go on. But it likely won’t have any important impact, except for annoying commuters and parents. However, traffic will not be nearly as disrupted as other days. It has been a long road of reform and protest, as France24 writes.

Le Volontaire has a list of strikes organized around France, by départment (and city).

Left-wing newspaper L’Humanité unsurprisingly calls this an “unjust reform” and supports the strikes, with a list of cities participating (similiar to the one above, with some variation). In Paris, the action will start at metro Opéra at noon, pass by la rue du Quatre Septembre, la Bourse des Valeurs, palais Brongniart and finish at place de la Bourse around 2pm.

On the other side of the political spectrum, business newspaper Les Echos (like the French Wall Street Journal) is calling this the “last-ditch stand” (baroud d’honneur) of unions.

According to the SNCF’s site, TGV, Téoz and Intercité trains will not be affected. However, certain regional TER trains could be (look by region). So far the Paris area RATP website is not updated with strike information, but will likely have delays on certain bus lines that go to métro Opéra.

THIS JUST IN: The following bus lines will be interrupted with irregular intervals between about noon and 2pm tomorrow in Paris: 20, 21, 22, 27, 29, 39, 42, 48, 52, 53, 66, 67, 68, 74, 81, 85, 95 and Roissybus. This is especially important for those planning on taking Roissybus from Opera to CDG Airport. If you think this may disrupt your plans, you can opt for RER B at about an equal cost (around 9 euros), or taxis will run you about 35-40 euros. The

For updates on RER suburban line trains, you can see this site. Lyon’s TCL transport system will not be affected. For updates on other cities’ transport systems, you can check this link from a previous strike day. You can check the status of trains in major stations at this site.

American Clubs Newsletter #11

November 21st, 2010 No comments

This edition of the American Clubs newsletter features events around France for end of November and December (Nov. 21-Dec. 5). Look for the next one in 2 weeks!

You can download the latest edition on this PDF I’ve made available.

I encourage you to sign up for the free newsletter from American Clubs. You can email them at to get on the list.

Bonjour Paris: Sarkozy’s new cabinet

November 20th, 2010 No comments

In this week’s Bonjour Paris, a great resource, I write a piece analyzing French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s new cabinet after the reshuffling. It talks about changes, Prime Minister François Fillon, the French economy, Bettencourt scandal, Sarkozy’s 10 big challenges for the remainder of his administration and 2011 Senate elections and 2012 presidential election. Excerpts below.

Just an FYI: there are strikes planned for Nov. 23 against the now lost-cause of retirement reform, but they are not expected to cause much disruption. Nonetheless I will update my blog Nov. 22 with any relevant information.

As promised, President Nicolas Sarkozy finally carried out the long-awaited reshuffling of his cabinet. This is a traditional move by French presidents during their administrations, regarded as an effort to regain popularity and credibility after facing approval-rating problems. Mr. Sarkozy has certainly had those.

The Economist cites a poll by Ifop that puts Sarkozy’s approval rating at 36% and that of Prime Minister François Fillon at 55%. This is one principal reason Fillon was kept in office – defying the modern trend of presidents changing prime ministers once or twice per administration. In fact, as the same article notes: “If he keeps his job until 2012, M. Fillon will become the first prime minister in modern times to have survived a president’s entire term.” This is due in part because “his calm, reassuring style makes him the antidote to the hyperkinetic president.”

So the fact that Fillon stayed on makes this both an uneventful reshuffling and an exceptional one. You can see a group photograph and learn the names of all cabinet members on the Elysée website here. You can also read coverage of it in the New York Times. Some of the most notable changes come at Defense Minister (old: Hervé Morin; new: Alain Juppé) and Foreign Minister (old: Bernard Kouchner; new: Michèle Alliot-Marie). Overall, it is a government that is more right of center, and one of the most unsurprising changes was at Budget Minister, where François Baroin replaced Eric Woerth. Woerth had been entangled in the Bettencourt scandal. But Nicolas Sarkozy supported him fully in a speech to France about his reshuffling.

Sarkozy will face 10 big challenges during the second half of his term, according to weekly Le Point: strengthening his UMP party unity for 2012; regaining approval ratings; keeping the French Senate to the right (Senatorial elections are in September 2011 and could swing left); reforming fiscal policy; financing aid for the elderly; supporting employment; improving France’s image abroad; getting support from students and the youth with convincing plans; and mastering the internet.

For more information, The Economist has quality coverage of this event. France 24 also covers it.

The challenge now is implementing further reforms – on the heels of the unpopular retirement pension reform now law – to improve the French economy while remaining popular enough to have a chance at reelection in 2012. But there are already many candidates from several parties waiting in the wings, most notably IMF head and Socialist Dominique Strauss-Kahn and former Prime Minister conservative Dominique de Villepin.

Where to celebrate Thanksgiving in France & Monaco

November 17th, 2010 No comments

Thanksgiving this year falls on Thursday Nov. 25. This is one of the most important American traditional holidays and being abroad can make one miss home being with family and friends. (French explanation here by US Embassy Paris, Thanksgiving guide by Lyon à la carte.)

Luckily there are many communities of expats in France and Thanksgiving festivities all over the country from Biarritz to Paris, even in Monte Carlo (Monaco). Here is a list below, non-exhaustive of course, as there could be events of which I’m not aware (especially in other cities). If this is the case, please feel free to list events as “comments”.

Many of these require reservations in advance and spots are limited, so get on it! Not all fall on Thanksgiving, they range from Nov. 17 to Nov. 28. Also, price ranges vary, anywhere from 20 to 80 euros a person usually. Parents with children ages 3-5, you may be interested by American Library in Paris having a story hour on Nov. 24.

cheers, and Happy “jour de dinde” (Turkey Day) en avance!

Nov. 17: France-Etats Unis Paris (with talk on JFK)
Nov. 23: France Amériques
Nov. 24: American University Clubs of France
Nov. 25: Breakfast in America diner
Nov. 25: Katz’s American Diner,, their menu, their flyer
Nov. 25: AmCham France (American Chamber of Commerce)
Nov. 25, 26, 27: Le Saint-Martin
Harry’s Bar (not sure for 2010, contact them).
American Club of Paris (not sure, contact them)

Nov. 21: International Christian Community of Lyon (contact through site)
Nov. 27: American Club of Lyon. Info, PDF sign-up here.

MARSEILLE & Aix-en-Provence
Nov. 14 – ICCM English speaking church
Nov. 28 – Anglo-American Group of Provence

Nov. 21: American Club of Lille

Nov. 20: France-Etats Unis Toulouse
Americans in Toulouse may have information on events.

Association Bordeaux-USA (not sure for this year, contact them)

Nov. 28: Americans in Alsace (looks like members only, contact through site)

Nov. 25: France-Etats Unis Grenoble (under “calendar”)
Pumpkins restaurant (contact them)

Nov. 28: France-Etats Unis Nantes

Nov. 25: Stars ‘N’ Bars

Nov. 25: Expat Meet-Up Nice
American Club of the Riveria (I’ve heard they hold Thanksgiving, but call to confirm).

Nov. 25: France-Etats Unis Caen

Nov. 26: France-Etats Unis Biarritz (soirée gala, Thanksgiving dinner)

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