Archive

Archive for March, 2011

American Clubs of France events in March, April

You can find the latest issue on their website. Events are scheduled by many different organizations around the country:

PARIS, ANGERS – SAUMUR, BIARRITZ, BORDEAUX, CAEN, CLERMONT – FERRAND, GRENOBLE, LATTES, LILLE, LYON, MONTPELLIER, NARBONNE, SETE, TOULOUSE, TOURS

Happy networking!

MD Expo Marketing e-retail Fair in Paris March 29-31

This trade show on marketing and e-retail will take place at Paris Porte de Versailles from March 29 to March 31 and will have experts, businesses and 110 conferences on digital, interactive and mobile marketing and e-retail solutions and innovations.

You can sign up on the website under “commande de badge”, and here you’ll find practical information (address, directions…).

If you have problems with French, you can find a concise PDF program in English here.

Happy networking!

disclosure: I’m not being paid for this, I just thought it would interest some of you

French time change this weekend, go forward an hour

Just a note to remind you to advance your clocks and watches by an hour this weekend (the night of Saturday March 26 to Sunday March 27, specifically at 2am, when it will turn to 3am).

You can read more about this time change in French here. This follows the time change that took place in the US two weeks ago. So for the past two weeks, the time difference between New York and Paris was 5 hours. On Sunday, it will go back to 6 hours.

We’ll lose an hour of sleep, but at least these time changes take place on the weekend!

French venture capital at record levels

According to the the March 22 edition of French financial daily La Tribune, venture capital in France in 2010 reached its highest levels since 2000. For those of you who cannot read the article (due to subscription restrictions), I have summed it up in English below.

An interesting linguistic note that reveals a lot about cultural differences is the expression in French for “venture capital”: capital-risque, or “risk capital”. So whereas the risk-taking “Anglo-Saxon” cultures positively think of investing in businesses as “ventures”, the actual French term emphasizes the traditional risk-averse culture of France (that is gradually evolving, as the article illustrates).

Another example of this difference is that more Americans and British invest in stocks for their pensions whereas it is less of a natural option for French workers. But this too is changing.

I have some venture capital links on my business in France page.

Do you have any views of venture capital and investments in France?

“Le capital-risque en France retrouve des niveaux record”

Venture capital funds invested about €1.05 billion in 2010 (compared to €910 million in 2009). This is the highest amount since 2000, when VC reached €1.14 billion.

Investment over the past six semesters (notice the dip 2nd half of 2009)

2008: €470 mil (1st semester), €556 mil (2nd semester)
2009: €503 mil (1st semester), €407 mil (2nd semester)
2010: €515 mil (1st semester), €532 mil (2nd semester)

Most capital came from local investment funds, or FIP (Fonds d’investissement de proximité) and innovation mutual funds, or FCPI (Fonds commun de placement dans l’innovation). In fact, the second half of 2010, FIP’s and FCPI’s represented 62.5% of investments.

N.B. you can learn more about these and other French investment terminology here. See below for explanation of FCPI from that link.

Another trend is that most venture capital firms invest in the last stage, or second rounds, instead of early stage investments. Early stage made up only 7% of VC investments in the last ten months of 2010.

One last note is that the health, life sciences and pharmaceutical industries make up almost 25% of venture capital investments.

FCPI: French type of mutual funds, created in 1997, intended to support the development of innovating firms.

The capital collected by a FCPI is invested at least up to 60 % in the capital of non listed companies, or of limited liability companies, to which the Agence nationale de la valorisation de la recherche (ANVAR) gives the label “innovating”.

Subject to keep the FCPI shares during at least five years, the subscriber profits from tax advantages at the time of the subscription (tax cut) and at the time of the resale (possible exemption of the cashed products and the appreciations in certain cases)

My American Market: interviews on French real estate, life in France, recipes

I write for the My American Market monthly newsletters. The latest one for March, “Mars 2011” (and previous editions) can be downloaded here. I have a feature in this month’s edition, pages 8 to 9, “Buying property in France – Q&A with Adrian Leeds”. I interviewed a property expert on buying in France, especially for expatriates.

There are other interesting and varied features, and you can also order American food products on this great site. Happy reading and happy eating!

EDIT: Some links in the article were apparently broken. You can find them here:
French Property Consultation
Living and Investing in France
Parler Paris Apartments

Libya and the return of French diplomatic leadership

March 22nd, 2011 1 comment

With the ongoing NATO intervention in Libya, both the New York Times and The Economist profile France as a leader on the international diplomatic stage. Excerpts are below. Now there is debate about who is leading the effort in Libya, but there is no doubt France is playing one of the leading roles.

What do you think of the Libyan intervention?

NYT excerpts:

Sarkozy Puts France at Vanguard of West’s War Effort
By STEVEN ERLANGER
Published: March 20, 2011

President Nicolas Sarkozy may be down in the opinion polls, but he has put France boldly in the forefront of an allied effort to prevent the decimation of the opposition to Libya’s leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi…

…Mr. Sarkozy, motivated by French failures to respond quickly to the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and pressed by a new foreign minister and vocal public figures like the writer Bernard-Henri Lévy, came together with Britain to drag Europe and the United States toward a military engagement in the Arab world that key allies like Washington and Berlin never wanted…

…France had “decided to assume its role, its role before history” in stopping Colonel Qaddafi’s “murderous madness,” Mr. Sarkozy said solemnly on Saturday, standing alone before the television cameras and pleasing those here who still have a strong sense of French exceptionalism and moral leadership…

…As for France, with at least 40 aircraft and numerous ships committed, including its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, the battle in Libya is one of the largest French military operations in years, even though it does not involve any troops, as in Afghanistan…

Economist excerpts:

France’s role in Libya
The welcome return of French diplomacy
Mar 20th 2011, 21:23 by S.P. | PARIS

THE success of yesterday’s Paris summit in securing international backing for the military strikes on Libya marks quite a comeback for French diplomacy. Just two months ago, France was offering another Arab autocrat, in Tunisia, help controlling rebellion. Last week’s farcical miscommunication over France’s recognition of the Libyan rebels pointed to ongoing confusion about who was really running its foreign policy. But President Nicolas Sarkozy’s “summit in support of the Libyan people”, which united European, American and some Arab leaders, was hard to fault. Less than two hours later, French fighter planes were in the sky heading for Libyan airspace, followed by the British and Americans. From left to right, the French political class has applauded…

…As always with diplomacy, and never more so than when it comes to the mercurial Mr Sarkozy, there was also an element of opportunism. The French president is deeply unpopular in the polls, and faces a presidential election next year. He had long been hoping to use foreign affairs to boost his standing, as he did when France held the rotating presidency of the European Union in the second half of 2008.

This time, he used his opportunities wisely. He sensed American hesitation about leading another operation in the Arab world, and turned this to his advantage by putting France in the driving seat alongside the British. Germany’s abstention over the Security Council resolution at first irritated the French, but also handed them an opportunity to take the lead. The strange role of Bernard-Henri Lévy, a left-wing philosopher and media celebrity, who telephoned Mr Sarkozy from Benghazi to urge him to back the rebels, seems to have played a part too. For once, Mr Sarkozy’s personal political interests coincided with national and international ones…

…The atmospherics in Paris have changed almost overnight. Politicians of all stripes, including on the left, have praised France’s action. Even Mr de Villepin, a rival to Mr Sarkozy on the Gaullist right, said that “France has lived up to its ideals.” The French are feeling good about themselves as a country that has done the right thing diplomatically for arguably the first time since ex-President Jacques Chirac and Mr de Villepin declared that they would veto a UN Security Council resolution authorising intervention in Iraq. Whether this lasts is another matter. Although Mr Juppé made it clear that this is not a ground operation, nobody knows how long or how tough it will turn out to be. French public opinion is enjoying a renewed sense of national respect, but has not—yet—been prepared for a long and messy war…

Strong showing for left, far right in French local elections “cantonales”

The far right (Front National, FN) seems to be gaining ground in France, in the personality of Marine Le Pen, daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen (the ultra-conservative former presidential candidate who made it to the second round of elections in 2002 against Jacques Chirac).

They recently received over 15% of the vote in the first round of France’s department local elections, les cantonales (compared to 17% for Sarkozy’s UMP Party, 25% for the PS Socialist Party, see graphic below). Although the abstention rate was very high (around 55%), it is an important alert for many French and politicians.

For France, there are worries about crime, immigration (specifically Muslim immigrants) and other issues that motivate people to vote for the hard-line party FN. But this is not a French phenonmenon, as the far right has a growing influence around Europe.

I wrote about these elections in Bonjour Paris and how the decline in Sarkozy’s popularity could undermine the strength of UMP’s election results. In fact, some members of UMP and even Sarkozy’s cabinet have called for voters to choose archrival PS (Socialists) in case the choice was between PS and FN.

Next step: the 2nd and final round of the elections will take place this Sunday March 27.

You can read more about this and the far right movement on France24 (English, excerpts below), Figaro (French, conservative), Libération (French, liberal), BBC News and The Economist. The Figaro most notably has department by department results of the election. They also have a special section on the elections.

Local elections see gains for left and far right

French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservatives lost ground in nationwide local elections on Sunday that saw a low voter turnout and significant gains by opposition left-wing parties and the far-right National Front.

AP – French leftists and the resurgent far right enjoyed strong showings in local elections Sunday that left President Nicolas Sarkozy’s governing conservatives struggling to maintain prominence.

Sarkozy’s role in launching the international military intervention in Libya on the eve of the voting did not immediately appear to have swayed the outcome of the voting in France’s cantons.

The elections for France’s smallest administrative segment are relatively minor, but they are the last test of parties’ nationwide strength before next year’s presidential elections.

Turnout was about 45 percent, low for France, the Interior Ministry said. The prime minister, anguished by the low participation, urged voters to turn out for the runoffs March 27.

The opposition Socialists enjoyed the most votes overall with about 25 percent of votes, according to preliminary results Sunday night from the Interior Ministry.

Sarkozy’s UMP party and allied parties had about 32 percent of votes, Interior Minister Claude Gueant said. But French television and rival parties said the UMP itself had less than 20 percent of the vote.

The far right National Front had about 15 percent of the vote, Gueant said. The party is riding the wave of popularity of its new leader, Marine Le Pen, who has tapped into worries about Muslim immigrants.

Le Pen took the party leadership in January from her father, party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, an icon in French politics for decades who worried millions of French voters and neighboring countries when he made it into the runoff in 2002 presidential elections.

Recent opinion surveys have showed Sarkozy’s approval ratings at historic lows. Leftist voters are angry at his cost-cutting measures and say he is too cozy with corporate interests. Many conservatives are disappointed that he has not been bolder about loosening up the labor market and hasn’t eased tensions between police and youth in suburban housing projects.

A win in a cantonal election gives candidates a seat on councils overseeing France’s departments, or provinces.

French fighter jets enter Libyan air space

After the UN passed a resolution to protect the Libyan civilian population from government attacks (Libya background), with support for military intervention, French military jets are currently flying over Libya, near Benghazi. According to Figaro, there are five fighter jets preventing Libyan government forces from using airplanes to bomb civilians. Footage below from French news BFM TV. We will see how this develops.

UPDATE: 20 French aircraft are now participating, along with US and UK forces.

St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness in Paris

Wondering where you can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Paris? Check out this guide (includes pubs link). Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

A listing of bars (there are more, certainly) that are playing games throughout the March Madness season. You can check out the tournament brackets here. My alma mater, Notre Dame, is a #2 seed. Go Irish!

These below are a selection (last time I checked). If you know of other sports bars broadcasting the games, notably outside of Paris, feel free to leave a comment.

The Moose
The Great Canadian
Harry’s New York Bar
WOS Bar
The Beaver Bar
Kitty O’Shea’s
Corcoran’s Irish Pub
James Joyce Paris

Other places where you might find some luck or at least some tips for watching somewhere:
Breakfast in America
Kat’z American Diner

New book from former French resistance fighter all the rage

The New York Times has an article about former French resistance fighter Stéphane Hessel’s new pamphlet book called “Indignez-vous!” (“Time for Outrage!”). It is quite the popular phenomenon and an excerpt of the article is below, as well as a link to The Nation‘s publication of it.

A Resistance Hero Fires Up the French
By ELAINE SCIOLINO
Published: March 9, 2011

PARIS — As a hero of the French Resistance, Stéphane Hessel was in exile with Charles de Gaulle in London, imprisoned in concentration camps, waterboarded in Nazi torture sessions and saved from hanging by swapping identities with an inmate who had died of typhus.

Now, at 93, he is the author of a best seller that has become a publishing phenomenon in France. It is not the story of his life (he wrote his autobiography years ago), but a thin, impressionistic pamphlet called “Indignez-Vous!,” held together by two staples and released by a two-person publishing house run out of the attic of their home. It urges young people to revive the ideal of resistance to the Nazis by peacefully resisting the “international dictatorship of the financial markets” and defending the “values of modern democracy.”

In particular Mr. Hessel protests France’s treatment of illegal immigrants, the influence on the media by the rich, cuts to the social welfare system, French educational reforms and, most strongly, Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

“When something outrages you, as Nazism did me, that is when you become a militant, strong and engaged,” he writes. “You join the movement of history, and the great current of history continues to flow only thanks to each and every one of us.”

Since its publication in October “Indignez-Vous!” has sold almost 1.5 million copies in France and has been translated into Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Greek. Editions are planned in Slovenian, Korean, Japanese, Swedish and other languages. In the United States, The Nation magazine published the entire English text last month…

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