The annual famous light festival in Lyon, France, Fête des Lumières, takes place this December 6th thru December 9th, 2012.
It is really a FANTASTIC show. The amazing aspect of the spectacle itself varies according to year, but you won’t regret going. You may only regret the crowds. I’ve been the past 5 festivals and the population of Lyon doubles to almost 4 million during the long weekend.
-You’ll want to check out the TCL Lyon public transport system website for travel updates.
-The regional train system, TER Rhone-Alpes, has information on train schedules as well.
-If you’re flying in, the Aeroports de Lyon website has information.
-Hotels are usually booked this weekend months in advance. Check out classifieds or apartment sharing websites at this point.
It’s truly a wonderful festival, and I love the city of Lyon. Check out my post from last year.
Bonne visite !
The Economist this week has a 14-page special report this week in its print edition that focuses on France, from its economy to politics, under the central theme of how economic structural reform is necessary in order to avoid a “time bomb” going off at the heart of the Eurozone. You can access the Nov. 17, 2012 print edition contents here. The leader article introducing the special report is here, and the special report link can be found at the table of contents site under “Special report: France” (there are 8 articles).
I’m delving into all this right now and encourage you to do the same. Even if you don’t agree with the magazine’s analysis, it is a highly-regarded publication for a reason: for asking important questions.
This is the not the first time the British news magazine has waxed poetic about France’s economic woes and potential for growth. Indeed, French economic and business paper Les Echos puts past covers and stories into perspective (in French).
What do you think are France’s biggest problems and do you think Hollande and Ayrault’s government can solve them?
Happy Bastille Day everyone! Joyeux 14 juillet tout le monde !
How did you celebrate today? Feel free to post in the comments section your favorite places to celebrate, no matter which country or city.
I myself am in Washington DC today and among several spots to revel in the celebration, Bistrot du Coin is a local favorite.
In the spirit of transatlantic relations, this NY Times piece is interesting.
Vive la France !
I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving, and for those celebrating this weekend (comme moi), enjoy the festivities!
The Economist has an interesting piece in this week’s issue that talks about the newly automated line 1 of the Paris metro system which was completely outfitted with new technology and revamped to make it driverless.
Besides having better and more service during rush hour and a lower risk of accidents (automated line 14, which I take quite often, has had no accidents since its launch in 1998), the modernization of services also results in a welcome side effect for many: these automated lines will not be affected by the occasional public transport worker strikes since there are no drivers (see excerpt below).
What is your view on technology and innovation in France? Do you think labor costs are too high and discourages employers from hiring more often?
“…Strict labour laws, costly payroll charges and erratic strikes seem to make French firms especially keen on technology. Supermarkets, for instance, have enthusiastically adopted self-checkout tills. “All French hypermarkets have adopted this strategy over the past few years,” says Alexis Lecanuet at Accenture, a consultancy. The idea is to speed up queues at peak times for impatient non-technophobes carrying light baskets. But it also cuts costs. “Self-checkout has worked better in countries where labour is expensive,” says Serguei Netessine, a professor at INSEAD, a business school.
France excels at high-tech services: credit-card operated petrol stations, touch-screen fast-food counters, automatic car-washing. Two years ago, McDonalds pioneered the use of touch-screen, credit-card-based ordering in its French fast-food restaurants. Eléphant Bleu, a self-service high-pressure car-washing chain, has 472 outlets in France, and is expanding. All this in a country where the labour code runs to over 3,300 pages, an employer pays an average of 39% in payroll taxes, and unemployment is at 10%. Spot the connection.”
NB: This post is not intended to spark cultural tensions but give cultural insight. Of course, surveys are not perfect measurements, but they can provide perspective. I’m just sharing an interesting article here for cultural awareness, not to criticize the US or France.
The French have a reputation for being quite chauvinistic, but my time living here has showed me that they are not any more arrogant than my fellow Americans. In fact, the recent Pew Research Center survey, called the “The American-Western European Values Gap”, reveals quite the contrary.
Responding to the statement “Our people are not perfect but our culture is superior to others”, only 27% of French think French culture is better than all others. For the US, that number was 49%.
What could this say about Americans? I think overall we are less informed about world events and different cultures than European nations, and it shows in the numbers. So I believe this attitude is based on lack of experience abroad and lack of cultural perspective. That’s just my opinion though, not Pew’s conclusions. What do you think?
Another interesting statistic is that in foreign affairs, there is more isolationism in the US than in France:
52% of Americans polled said the US “should deal with its own problems”, 39% said the US “should help other countries”.
For the French, these numbers were 57% and 43%, respectively.
Poll finds French not so chauvinistic after all
Published: 18 Nov 2011 10:15 GMT+1
France’s reputation for chauvinism took a hit on Thursday from an opinion poll that revealed that only 27 percent of its people think French culture is better than all others.
In fact, 73 percent of French respondents to the ongoing Pew Research Center survey of US and European attitudes disagreed that “our culture is superior to others,” the polling institute reported.
Forty-nine percent of Americans believed US culture was the best, even if “our people are not perfect,” followed by Germans at 47 percent, Spaniards at 44 percent and Britons at 32 percent.
But, when set against past surveys, it appears “Americans are now far less likely to say that their culture is better than others; six-in-ten Americans held this belief in 2002 and 55 percent did so in 2007,” the pollsters said.
“Belief in cultural superiority has declined among Americans across age, gender and education groups.”
Americans were most likely to consider freedom to pursue life’s goals is most important (58 percent), while Germans were most likely to view success in life as being determined “by forces outside our control” (72 percent).
Pew based its findings from random telephone interviews in March and April with about 1,000 respondents in each country (Britain, France, Germany, Spain and the United States) with 3.5-4.5 percent margins of error.
The entire survey appears on its website, www.pewglobal.org.
AFP (fr) (email@example.com)
This week the French Consulate in New Orleans is organizing a “Semaine Française” to celebrate Franco-American friendship and ties. Excerpts from Embassy website below. See the sites for more information. Vive la France! Vive l’Amérique!
The Consulate General of France in New Orleans, Louisiana, in partnership with local institutions and sponsors, offers the first edition of the Semaine Française. More than 20 multidisciplinary events will be held in New Orleans during 4 days to celebrate the French-American relationship and strengthen the ties between France and Louisiana.
From Thursday the 17th of November to Sunday the 20th, business, educational and cultural thematic will be highlighted by these events, a large majority of which are free and open to all. Semaine Française is presented under the high auspices of his Excellency the Ambassador of France to the United States Mr. Francois Delattre.
Semaine Française will propose:
-Regional cooperation will be underlined by the signing of a memorandum of agreement between port of new orleans and Port of Guadeloupe, followed by a trade summit on the impact of the Panama Canal expansion with French and American perspectives. Officials from both New Orleans and Guadeloupe will attend this event, as well as his Excellency the Ambassador of France to the United States François Delattre.
-A business symposium will be held on the 18th of November at Tulane University. Three seminars will adress the issues of energy, coastal sustainability and transportation. Professionals in these fields such as the CEO of Areva Jacques Besnainou and nuclear cousellor to the French Embassy in Washington D.C Cyril Pinel will participate to these seminars.
-A French education fair will gather all the Louisiana institutions offering French studies and classes on the 19th of November. A roundtable discusssion with Louisiana State Representatives and a panel of university professors will deal with the state of the French language in Louisiana, followed by a networking cocktail with the alumni of the Teaching Assistant Program in France and professionals.
-Several cultural events will be held during Semaine Française in New Orleans. The Beaujolais Nouveau will be celebrated through a festival and French DJ after-party; culinary cooking demonstrations will be offered by Guadeloupean chef Joel Kichenin at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum; a concert by the Gypsy swing trio and a screening of French film « Le Herisson »by Mona Achache in cooperation with the New Orleans Museum of Art and the New Orleans Film Society. Painting and sculpture exhibitions of French artists living in New Orleans will be organized in several galleries. A photo exhibit on the theme « What makes Louisiana French »will take place at the historic New Orleans Collection. And more…
Semaine Française is presented by the Consulate General of France in New Orleans, the French-American chamber of Commerce-Gulf Coast Chapter, the Alliance francaise of New Orleans and the forum francophone des affaires. Semaine Française benefits from the support of all the French and French-American organizations in New Orleans and has partnered with most of the city’s institutions including the city of New Orleans, the Council for the Development Of French language In Louisiana (CODOFIL) the Port of New Orleans and Tulane University.
This just in…taken from the Local’s website.
How long do your lunches last during the work day?
French lunch breaks fall to just 22 minutes
Published: 29 Sep 2011 10:51 GMT+1
Despite the widely-held view that French workers while away long lunch hours over three-course lunches with wine, a new survey shows that most grab lunch in just over 20 minutes.
A survey by insurance company Malakoff Médéric found the shortening of the lunch break has been dramatic. While workers twenty years ago took 1 hour and 30 minutes at lunchtime, the average has now fallen to just 22 minutes.
“The lunch break has become the flexible part of the working day,” said Anne-Sophie Godon of Malakoff Médéric, reported Le Figaro. “The content of the day has become more dense, while the distance between home and work has tended to get longer. Given this, workers have no other choice than to trim their lunch break.”
The way workers eat is also changing. Just one in ten now go outside to restaurants and around one in five eat in the company canteen. Almost a third of workers go home at lunchtime and 14 percent reach for a sandwich, up 2 percent over two years.
Doctors believe that rapid eating can have negative effects.
“When we eat quickly, we don’t have the time to feel satisfied,” Doctor Patrick Serog told Le Figaro. “When we eat in front of a computer, it’s even worse: we don’t pay attention to what we’re eating. The result is a tendency to snack in the afternoon.”
“Taking a proper break of about three-quarters of an hour is the best,” said fellow doctor Odile Renard. “Without this break, stress can accumulate.”
A final incentive to get out of the office and into a restaurant or canteen could come from a survey conducted by job site Monster, which found that the average office can contain 400 times more germs than a toilet seat.
I wrote up a piece for Bonjour Paris covering this diverse topics. You can read the article here.
Renown scholar and author David McCullough wrote a nice piece in the New York Times to celebrate Bastille Day and honor France. It addresses France’s historical contributions to America, from the Revolutionary War to other efforts that have defined the US today. It highlights our similarities and encourages recognition of France among Americans. Great article. Although as an expat I can get frustrated with some details of life here, I join McCullough in saying “Vive la France!”.
Article below. Enjoy.
Vive la Similarité
By DAVID McCULLOUGH
Published: July 13, 2011
THE recent arrest in New York of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, then the head of the International Monetary Fund, has caused some people to question the American-French relationship. Though we will probably never see a Bastille Day when French flags fly along Main Street and strains of “La Marseillaise” fill the airwaves, July 14 would not go so largely unobserved here were we better served by memory. For the ties that bind America and France are more important and infinitely more interesting than most of us know.
Consider that the war that gave birth to the nation, our war for independence, would almost certainly have failed had it not been for heavy French financial backing and military support, on both land and sea. At the crucial surrender of the British at Yorktown, for example, the French army under General Rochambeau was nearly as large as our own commanded by Washington. The British commander, Cornwallis, was left with no escape and no choice but to surrender only because a French fleet sailed into the Chesapeake Bay at exactly the right moment.
The all-important treaty ending the Revolutionary War, wherein King George III recognized the United States to be “free, sovereign and independent,” was signed in Paris. The plan for our new capital city on the Potomac was designed by a French engineer, Pierre Charles L’Enfant. The first great statue of our first president was the work of a French sculptor, Jean-Antoine Houdon. The first major study of us as a people, “Democracy in America,” was written by a French historian, Alexis de Tocqueville. Published in 1835, it remains one of the wisest books ever written about us.
To be sure, our relations with France have not always been smooth. Tensions over a diplomatic snafu called the “XYZ Affair” led, in 1798, to an actual but undeclared shooting war at sea that could have flared into full-scale war had it not been for the level-headed judgment of President John Adams.
But the rewards of our ties with France have far exceeded any difficulties there have been. With the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France, the size of the country was more than doubled. The Statue of Liberty, one of our most treasured symbols, was a gift from France.
No less conspicuous are the number of French names all across the map of America — cities and states, rivers and lakes: Baton Rouge, Des Moines, New Orleans, St. Louis, Terre Haute, Louisiana, Vermont, the Au Sable River, Lake Champlain. And then there are colleges and universities like Lafayette, Duquesne, Marquette, Notre Dame.
More than nine million of us are of French descent. Over a million American students are taking French, making it, after Spanish, the most commonly studied foreign language in our schools.
Times continue to change, yet we remain conspicuously fond of all manner of things French. We deck ourselves out in French fashions, French lace, French cuffs, spend small fortunes on French perfume and French luggage. We love French doors, French cheeses. We’ve made French fries a national staple, and in time-honored tradition raise glasses of French Champagne at important celebrations.
For well over 200 years, our most gifted American writers, artists, architects, composers, musicians and dancers have flocked to Paris to study and work, nearly always to their benefit and ours. John Singleton Copley, James McNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt, Edward Hopper, James Fenimore Cooper, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Richard Wright, Louis Gottschalk and Louis Armstrong, Cole Porter, Isadora Duncan and Josephine Baker, and, of course, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The list goes on and on.
Especially for American women and for African-Americans, Paris provided an atmosphere of freedom and of acceptance such as they had never experienced.
Less well known but of great importance were the hundreds of young Americans who went to study medicine in France in the 19th century, when Paris was the medical capital of the world and who brought home ideas and skills that would transform American medicine and medical education.
And there is a further reason France should hold a prominent place in our memories and in our hearts. More American history has unfolded in France and more Americans are buried there than in any other country but our own.
During World War I more than two million American soldiers served “Over There.” In World War II another generation of American soldiers numbering more than 800,000 served in France. In all, more than 60,000 Americans are buried in French soil, at Meuse-Argonne, Normandy and nine other cemeteries. At the Meuse-Argonne, the largest, lie fully 14,246 American dead. The grave markers are a sight never to be forgotten.
Though I love France and greatly value the friends I have made there, I am not an overboard Francophile. But as an American I think it is well past time to get back to respect and affection between our countries, on all fronts and with all possible good will.
For my part this Bastille Day, I intend to raise a glass or two of Veuve Clicquot in a heartfelt toast: “Vive la France!”
David McCullough, a winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, is the author, most recently, of “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris.”
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: July 18, 2011
An Op-Ed article on Thursday, about America’s ties with France, incorrectly described the size of General Rochambeau’s forces during the siege of Yorktown in 1781. While the combined forces of the French outnumbered those of Washington, Rochambeau himself commanded fewer soldiers than Washington, not more.
A version of this op-ed appeared in print on July 14, 2011, on page A27 of the New York edition with the headline: Vive la Similarité.