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Bonne année ! France’s 2017 public holidays, time changes

Bonne année and Happy New Year! Best wishes to you all for 2017. I’ll be posting a lot more this year.

Expatica has a good page dedicated to France’s public holidays in 2017.

As you may know, the French tend to look forward to May every year, particularly if those holidays fall close to weekends so they can “faire le pont” (bridge the weekend); i.e., if the holiday is on a Thursday, take the Friday off and make it a 4-day weekend. It is indeed glorious.

You can see a brief review here below.

French national holidays

January 1: New Year’s Day (Jour de l’an)

April 14: Good Friday – applicable only to Alsace and Moselle/Lorraine.

April 17: Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques)

May 1: Labour Day (Fête du premier mai)

May 8: WWII Victory Day (Fête du huitième mai or Jour de la Victoire 45)

May 25: Ascension Day (Jour de l’Ascension, 40 days after Easter)

June 5: Whit Monday – also known as Pentecost Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte).

July 14: Bastille Day (Fête nationale)

August 15: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Assomption)

November 1: All Saints Day (La Toussaint)

November 11: Armistice Day (Jour d’armistice)

December 25: Christmas Day (Noël)

December 26: Boxing Day/St Stephen’s Day (Deuxième jour de Noël): applicable only to Alsace and Moselle/Lorraine.


Important French holidays

March 26: Clocks go forward one hour as daylight saving time (DST) starts.

April 1: April Fool’s Day (Poisson d’Avril)

May 28: Mother’s day (last Sunday in May)

June 18: Father’s day (third Sunday in June)

October 29: Clocks go back one hour (DST ends).


French school holidays

School dates vary according to which ‘zone’ you’re in. The French Ministry of Education maintains a comprehensive list of school holidays in France.

Former French President Sarkozy back in the limelight for 2017

Sarko_2017

The Economist is one of many publications profiling former French President Nicolas Sarkozy following his recent announcement that he’ll run again for the 2017 French Presidential elections. Excerpts below. What do you think of this possibility, and of the burkini ban controversy?

Mr Sarkozy formally announced his decision in a new book, “Tout pour la France” (Everything for France), published on August 24th. The next day he was due to take to the stage in the south of France for his first campaign rally. Mr Sarkozy’s platform, as outlined in the book, is a hallmark mix of economic liberalism (lower taxes, longer working hours, later retirement) and right-wing identity politics (tighter citizenship and immigration rules, a tougher stance on Islam and integration)…

…On the face of it, Mr Sarkozy’s chances of securing the nomination for “Les Républicains” (the Republicans), and getting his old job back, are not high. In polls among voters on the centre-right, he consistently trails Alain Juppé, a patrician former prime minister. A recent poll by TNS Sofres puts the gap at 30% to 37%, with François Fillon, another former prime minister, at just 8%. A broader sample of French voters also expects Mr Juppé to come top, by a big margin. Mr Sarkozy’s head-spinning mercurial style, and his tendency to prefer grandiose gestures over policy follow-through, have lost him support among centrists, who see Mr Juppé as a less divisive figure…Yet Mr Sarkozy is also a past master of the political comeback…

…Mr Sarkozy’s calculation is that, after 18 months of deadly terrorist attacks, voters on the right want a hard line on security and political Islam…A former interior minister who once set up a ministry of national identity, Mr Sarkozy has more of a record on such matters than does Mr Juppé…The French return next week for la rentrée, the start of the school year, with the country still under a state of emergency. Given such stress, political divergences are readily amplified. The primary campaign, and the election next spring, could turn out to be ugly as identity politics are thrust to the fore…

Strikes in France – what to know

France strikes - taken from The Economist (link below)

France strikes – taken from The Economist (link below)

Essential reading from The Economist (May 27)
Article here focuses on all that is going on in France.

Update May 27 from US Embassy Paris:

Full link to travel advisory

“…The following strikes have been announced for the week of May 30:

Rail – The national unions which represents rail workers renewed their call for strikes limiting rail services along the TVG, RER and SNCF networks. An “unlimited strike” is scheduled to start at 9 am on Tuesday, May 31 for a period of at least 24 hours.

Paris-area Public Transportation – The union representing the Paris metro area transportation (RATP) has called for an “unlimited strike” starting on June 2 of all public transportation services, including the Paris metro, buses, and RER trains.

Air – Air traffic controllers have also called for strikes Friday, June 3 to Sunday, June 5 which could result in delays or cancellations of flights originating in France…”

By now, you have probably heard that France has been undergoing rounds of strikes and protests over the past couple months. This is in large part due to proposed labor reforms. Of course most of you know that strikes and public outcry are a way of life in France that most people tend to accept with a shrug.

The Local France has an interesting piece on this cultural reality, as well as countless publications in the past including BBC and Slate. Even The Onion got in on the humor with a fake French protest image back in 2005.

But this time seems to be different: these are arguably the strikes with the most impact in 20 years. Taken with the ongoing “state of emergency” that France has put into place since the November terrorist attacks (and have extended), France has a palpable undercurrent of tension.

For now, what you should know about the strikes: 
These strikes are affecting transportation, oil refineries, nuclear power stations and more throughout the country. The BBC outlines the main points of the proposed reforms here along with more coverage of the action. I’ve laid those out at the end of this post.

The Economist also has an interesting piece on the strikes – anticipating action throughout the summer.

Another useful guide is from the great folks at The Local. Local resources in France for tracking news updates include the SNCF website, which currently states that traffic should start resuming to normal May 27 but to keep abreast of updates. Their travel agency Voyages SNCF also has a helpful resource for train travel updates.

You should also stay abreast of airline travel through your local airline. Aéroports de Paris does have general updates as well for Paris Orly and Paris CDG traffic.

BFM TV, Libération, France 24 and Le Monde are also great resources.

At the time of this being published, there have been clashes reported by protestors in Paris, Lyon, Nantes, Bordeaux and other major cities. Your local embassy should be the best resource for expat nationals living and traveling in France for up to date security information. The US Embassy, for example, has contact info here and updates on their Twitter feed.

Want to brush up on your French travel vocabulary? Try About.com or FluentU.

If you have travel plans to France or are thinking of moving there in the coming year, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so – just do your research and travel intelligently. I have lived in France for 30% of my entire life at different times as an intern, student, grad student, English teacher and employee. It is a place that is dear to me, and I would love for you to also have those life-changing experiences.

Travel smartly, safely and avoid protest areas. Take a lesson from my French friends and enjoy life, drink some wine and sit back to see how this evolves. C’est la vie, enfin.

French labour reform bill – main points

  • The 35-hour week remains in place, but as an average. Firms can negotiate with local trade unions on more or fewer hours from week to week, up to a maximum of 46 hours
  • Firms are given greater freedom to reduce pay
  • The law eases conditions for laying off workers, strongly regulated in France. It is hoped companies will take on more people if they know they can shed jobs in case of a downturn
  • Employers given more leeway to negotiate holidays and special leave, such as maternity or for getting married. These are currently also heavily regulated

France train network has national strikes (again) April 26th

French unions that bring together employees of the rail system, SNCF, is staging strikes around the country today. This is the third such strikes in the past two months. Paris’ RER network is also impacted.

More info here in French. A message from the US State Department’s Paris Embassy is below as well. You can follow news in English on France 24 here. They are running until 8am local time on Wednesday 4/27.

Consult your travel agency or SNCF’s train tracking site for news on delays or cancellations to your travel plans.

France 24 said:

Only half of high-speed TGV services will be running, SNCF said in a statement, along with just 40 percent of all regional TER trains.

Just one in three of SNCF’s Intercités trains will run, while half of all trains on the Paris region’s Transilien network will be cancelled.

RER rail services in the capital are also set to be significantly disrupted, with one train in two running on the RER line B, one in three on line C and D and two in three on line E. RER line A is set to run as normal.

International services are set to be largely unaffected though night trains will not be running, SNCF told the AFP news. It advised passengers to avoid travel or seek alternatives for their journeys wherever possible.

The U.S. Embassy in France informs U.S. citizens that several national unions representing SNCF train and service employees intend to hold a nationwide strike on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 to protest proposed changes to working conditions. Getting through train stations could take longer than usual and lines at automated machines are likely to be long. There could be resulting cancellations and delays to scheduled trains.

Travelers are advised to verify the status of their trains prior to arriving at the station and to allow extra time.

Please consult these websites for information on your train the day of the strike:

www.infolignes.fr

http://www.sncf.com/fr/prevision-trafic

www.sncf.com/en/passengers

http://www.sncf.com/en/news/timetables-traffic-updates

Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.

Nationwide strikes in France set for April 5

Attention, travelers and residents in France: There will be nationwide strikes Tuesday April 5th. I’ve put an important note from the US Embassy with further info below. Stay safe and travel smart!

April 4, 2016

U.S. Embassy Paris, France

Security Message for U.S. Citizens:
Strikes in France on April 5, 2016

Several unions nationwide have called on their workers to again strike in protest of the government’s proposed reforms to the labor law.

Multiple national unions have called for country-wide strikes on Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Affected sectors include:

  • Public education and schools;
  • Postal system;
  • Aviation;
  • Waste removal;
  • Public transport; and,
  • Rail services.

Given transportation difficulties, reaching airports and train stations may take longer than usual.  Lines are likely to be long.  There could be resulting delays to trains and flights throughout France.  Travelers are advised to have their tickets in hand and to allow extra time if traveling on Wednesday.

Please consult various sources of local information as you prepare your plans forTuesday, including local TV stations and websites (to include BFMTV, Le Parisien, and France24), as well as:

RATP – Paris local transport system – for information on metros, buses, and RER lines:

http://www.ratp.fr/informer/trafic/trafic.php

Transilien – for Paris region transport:

http://www.transilien.com/info-trafic/temps-reel

SNCF – for national and regional rail travel – input the # of your train and find out whether it will run or not:

http://www.sncf.com/fr/horaires-info-trafic

Twitter feeds for your particular metro and/or RER line(s) are always very helpful, as are the Twitter feeds of the Paris Prefecture de Police (#prefpolice) and Aéroports de Paris (#AeroportsParis), the latter of which also provides information on traffic conditions to/from CDG and Orly airports.  If you live outside of Paris, consult your local transport systems and news sources, or search “greve 5 avril” in Twitter for updates.

The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that demonstrations and large events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational.  Avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.  Large public gatherings can affect all major incoming arteries to the city in which they occur.  Demonstrations in one city have the potential to lead to additional public rallies or demonstrations in other locations around the city and country.

We strongly encourage U.S. citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. U.S. citizens are therefore urged to access local media to stay abreast of developments, avoid demonstrations, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations.

For further information:

  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in France, located at 4, Avenue Gabriel, Paris,
    +33 (1) 43 12 22 22, 9:00am – 6:00pmMonday through Friday.
    After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +33 (1) 43 12 22 22.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

France facing significant strikes this week, will impact train travel

French labor unions and student groups are on strike around France right now thru March 10th. This is impacting travel throughout the country. Make sure to check SNCF’s time tracking website for updates to train schedules as well as the Paris transit system RATP.

France24 has great coverage of this here and the US State Department has issued the travel warning below for expats.

Bon courage, les amies, les amis.

SNCF_strike_March2016

Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Strikes in France on March 8-10, 2016

On March 8 -10, 2016, members of several unions and student groups plan both strikes and protests all across France. These protests and strike actions are likely to make travel and/or local transport (including movement by private vehicle or taxi) difficult.

Nationwide, the unions that represent 70% of SNCF employees have called on their employees to strike; local media report that this is the first time since June 2013 that the four biggest unions have been unified in their intention to strike, suggesting that the participation rate could be very high and disruption accordingly significant.

In Paris, unions representing local transport authority RATP will also be striking, leading to possible slowdowns on the Metro, buses, and RER.

In separate actions, several groups plan to converge on the Place de la République in Paris at 2 pm from various assembly points across the city to protest the government’s consideration of reforms to the labor laws.

Unions have called on their members to meet around Paris metro station ‘Ecole Militaire’ to march on the MEDEF headquarters in the 7th arrondissement on avenue Bosquet. From there, they intend to head to the Labor Ministry on rue de Grenelle before heading for the Place de la République.

Student and young people’s groups have called on their participants to gather at Place de la Nation in the east of the city before marching to République.

Please note that the actual strike plans filed by the transport workers’ unions designate a start of the action at 8 pm Tuesday night, March 8, and a finish Thursday morning, March 10, at about 8 am.

Please consult various sources of local information for updates, including local TV stations and websites (to include BFMTV, Le Parisien, and France24), as well as:

RATP – Paris local transport system – for information on metros, buses, and RER lines:

http://www.ratp.fr/informer/trafic/trafic.php

Transilien – for Paris region transport:

http://www.transilien.com/info-trafic/temps-reel

SNCF – for national and regional rail travel:
http://www.sncf.com/fr/horaires-info-trafic

Twitter feeds for particular metro and/or RER line(s) are always very helpful, as are the Twitter feeds of the Paris Prefecture de Police (@prefpolice) and Aéroports de Paris (@AeroportsParis), which also provides information on traffic conditions to/from CDG and Orly airports.

The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that demonstrations and large events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational. Avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations. Large public gatherings can affect all major incoming arteries to the city in which they occur. Demonstrations in one city have the potential to lead to additional public rallies or demonstrations in other locations around the city and country.

We strongly encourage U.S. citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. U.S. citizens are therefore urged to access local media to stay abreast of developments, avoid demonstrations, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations.

For further information:

  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in France, located at 4, Avenue Gabriel, Paris,
    +33 (1) 43 12 22 22, 9:00am – 6:00pmMonday through Friday.
    After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +33 (1) 43 12 22 22.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Paris under attack: What you should do

November 14th, 2015 No comments

Like all of you, I’m deeply saddened and troubled by the still-unfolding coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris.

Stay up to date via my Twitter channel @AmExpatFrance. I also recommend following France 24 and BFM TV, Agence France Presse, in addition to CNN.

For US citizens and expats abroad, please make sure to pay special attention to this message from the US Embassy I received earlier today. I also pasted info from the French Interior Ministry for an emergency number they have set up (in French). Please also keep up to date from the French National Police Twitter account here.

I advise you to contact your airlines and keep abreast of the news and travel alerts if you’re slated to travel to or from France in the coming days. At the moment, the country’s borders are closed. If I have any major updates, I’ll post to my Twitter feed. Best to stay indoors for now.

God Bless Paris.

U.S. Embassy Paris
Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Attacks in Paris
November 13, 2015

The U.S. Embassy in Paris is aware of multiple explosions in Paris and urges U.S. citizens to heed local authorities and maintain security awareness. The situation is still developing.

For further information:

· See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and France Country Specific Information.
· Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
· Contact the U.S. Embassy in Paris, located at 2 Avenue Gabriel
75008 Paris, at +(33)(1) 43-12-22-22 or by email at Citizeninfo@state.gov. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +(33)(1) 43-12-22-22.

· Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

· Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Attaques simultanées à Paris
14 novembre 2015

Communiqué de presse de la Cellule Interministérielle de Crise du 14 novembre 2015

La préfecture de Police met en place un numéro vert d’information au public :
0800 40 60 05
Mesures recommandées:
Les personnes qui se trouvent à leur domicile, chez des proches ou dans des locaux professionnels en IDF, doivent éviter de sortir sauf nécessité absolue.

France investing in its start-ups, launches new visa

The Economist recently had an interesting piece on multiple initiatives (by government and private venture capital investment alike) to encourage a blossoming of start-ups that Paris has not seen in years.

How this impacts you as potential or current expats: “Axelle Lemaire, the (Canadian-born) minister visiting NUMA, has launched a “tech visa” for foreign entrepreneurs.”

To learn more about this visa and the overall project to support French tech start-ups, you can peruse La French Tech.

Also of note: France is embarking on a “Come Back Home” campaign abroad to try to convince accomplished French expats to return to their homeland to help take the start-up economy to the next level.

I’ve included the Economist text below. Have any of my readers attended recent events in France (both Paris and other cities) related to start-up and tech investment?

Reinventing Paris
Start-up city

A capital seen as a museum develops new pockets of high-tech modernity
Jun 13th 2015 | PARIS | From the print edition

THE café is organic, the décor industrial loft-style and the furniture artfully mismatched. This is NUMA, a digital hub in Paris, where facial hair is abundant and ties are non-existent. Perhaps it is insouciance, ignorance or quiet concentration, but when a government minister turns up, nobody notices. A new generation is trying to reinvent how Paris behaves and looks.

It may not be Berlin or London, but something is taking place in the capital’s fringes and deserted industrial spaces. A city with more beauty and heritage than most, Paris is trying to shrug off its staid image. Scarcely a week goes by without an event devoted to start-ups in a converted dock or warehouse in an unfashionable area. On Paris’s eastern edge, Xavier Niel, an entrepreneur who heads a €12 billion ($13.5 billion) communications group, is building a start-up incubator with floor space equivalent to four football pitches. In the first quarter of 2015 a Paris venture-capital firm was joint-top investor in European technology start-ups, with two German companies, according to CB Insights, an American research group.

“There has been a transformation of mentalities in France,” says Mr Niel, who urges young people to take risks, think big and break conventions. “Entrepreneurship is a state of mind” reads a banner at NUMA, also home to Google’s Paris campus. The outlook is anti-hierarchical and anti-conformist. “Our force is cultural chaos,” says Frédéric Oru, a co-director. Another NUMA executive adds: “It’s not very French.”

One reason for change is that the young are no longer drawn to corporate life. Unemployment among graduates is 10%, and one in five of those who create new businesses are jobless. But some just want to do their own thing, away from the strict hierarchies of corporate France. A quarter of recent graduates of HEC, the top business school, have started their own company, up from one in ten a decade ago.

Second, successful entrepreneurs and investors now show what is possible. Mr Niel, who also built a software-development school in Paris, is one. Sigfox, a start-up that runs a cellular network for connected objects, pulled off the third-biggest European tech deal in the first quarter of 2015 when it raised $115m. BlaBlaCar, Europe’s biggest car-sharing service, raised over €100m last year. Incubators with names like TheFamily have grown. Facebook is opening a research centre on artificial intelligence in Paris.

Third, the Socialist government, which once whacked entrepreneurs with taxes, has changed. Instead of lamenting the loss of fine brains, it hopes to lure in foreign ones. Axelle Lemaire, the (Canadian-born) minister visiting NUMA, has launched a “tech visa” for foreign entrepreneurs. A public-investment fund, BPI France, is promoting start-ups. Early efforts to back incubators met “indifference and scepticism”, recalls Jean-Louis Missika, a deputy to the Socialist mayor, because “that wasn’t the image of Paris.” City Hall now wants to show that Paris is not just a living museum.

It is odd that the city lost its reputation for innovation. From avant-garde art to industrial engineering, it used to push the boundaries. The 1878 Paris World’s Fair showcased electric light; in 1889, the Eiffel Tower became the world’s tallest man-made structure. More recently, the urge to preserve has stifled innovation. Yet Paris is learning to reconcile history and modernity. On the edge of the Bois de Boulogne, a park, an elegant glass-and-steel structure designed by Frank Gehry for the Louis Vuitton art collection has met with admiration. Slowly, almost despite itself, Paris is rediscovering an innovative spirit.

France’s 2014 census kicks off

January 15th, 2014 No comments
"Gathering today's stats to build tomorrow's future."

“Gathering today’s stats to build tomorrow’s future.”

The French government’s national census for 2014 started January 14th.

The news channel BFMTV has more information here (in French).

I’ve summed up the basics below.

There is also a (French) FAQ guide on the official Insee census site here.

The census allows the government to determine the population of France’s communes (villages, towns, cities), as well as key statistics associated with more than 350 different legislative and regulatory codes related to citizen issues (size of municipal government, budget, how many pharmacies per town…).

About 9 million French households will be concerned this year, as since 2004 the national census has functioned on a rolling basis every year. This means that a household that is part of a sample of the population will on average be surveyed a maximum of once every 5 years. (Before then historically, the census was carried out on a larger scale every 8-9 years nationally).

It is being carried out by 23,000 census agents recruited through different town halls, distributing surveys through the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (L’Insee). These agents will have ID cards with a French flag.

They will be distributing 2 kinds of papers:
1) une “feuille de logement” – “Residential property sheet” which will collect info on the person’s property (house, apartment, condo…).

2) un “bulletin individuel” – “Individual ballot” which each person at the residency will fill out regarding their individual profiles.
Here’s the timing:

For villages/smaller towns: This year’s census starts today January 14 through February 15 for the 7,135 communes of France with fewer than 10,000 residents.

For larger towns/cities: The census goes from January 14 to February 22 for the 983 towns and cities that have more than 10,000 residents, as well as in the Antilles and French Guiana.

For Réunion: The census goes from January 22 to March 8.

Paper and Web versions
Those taking the census can fill out the papers and give them directly to the census agents, or bring them to their local town hall as well as l’Insee. They can also opt for the web version on the aforementioned site www.le-recensement-et-moi.fr for 412 different communes where that option is available. (In 2015, all communes will be available to access the web version).

My talk to French networking group GPF in Chicago

September 20th, 2013 No comments

On August 29, 2013, I spoke to the Groupe Professionnel Francophone de Chicago. I talked a bit about my experience living, studying and working in France. Here is a page describing the event. Apologies in advance for the poor audio quality (taken on a phone with background music and other ambient noise).
Thanks to Gigi and David for organizing this!

GPF LOGO

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