A Village in France Still Accepts Francs
Monday June 30th 2008, 3:49 am
Filed under: articles,daily life,news,Provence,shopping,stories,weird

From the iht:
french francs accepted in provence village
“COLLOBRIÈRES, France: Christine Amrane says it is mostly about profit, not just protest and nostalgia. This isolated village has decided to accept the French franc in everyday commerce, along with the euro, and the colorful old bills adorned with French heroes and writers have got people thinking.

Not too radically, of course. Collobrières, after all, is deep in Provence, a picturesque little place of 1,600 people, with a perfect, tiled village square, commanded by city hall and a café with a table of old men playing cards and drinking pastis, all shaded by huge plane trees from the hot southern sun.

“We lost something with the franc,” said Amrane, the mayor since 2001. “We lost an identity. We moved very quickly into Europe, maybe too quickly.”

Along with mostly visa-free travel, the introduction of the euro in 2002 was heralded as a great step in the building of a united Europe. But printed with images of imaginary bridges and buildings, and with no portraits of anyone, living or dead, euro bills are as faceless as the Eurocrats who run the institutions of the new Europe.

While Europeans value the ease of travel that the euro has encouraged, they also think that the new currency created inflation by allowing merchants to round up costs. And of course the European Central Bank means that countries can no longer adjust their interest rates and exchange rates to suit their particular economic circumstances.

Nathalie Lepeltier, a 39-year-old baker who launched the idea of accepting the old franc, says that “the euro has made life more expensive – prices are much higher.” Whether the euro is at fault or not, people certainly believe that it is.

“People have lost the concept of the value of money with the euro, because of the euro,” Lepeltier said. People remember the price in francs, and they’re shocked now when they use francs at how much more everything costs.”

Amrane’s husband retired and started getting his pension in 2001, before the euro. “He was paid in francs and now in euros, and it’s not at all the same,” she said. “There’s a general malaise.”

The autumn chestnut festival is on the minds of the people here more than political protest. Paris is 860 kilometers, or 535 miles, away, and Brussels even farther.

But the European Union is a source of confusion and annoyance, both abstract and distant. The French were not allowed to vote in a referendum on the complicated Lisbon Treaty to reorganize the workings of the enlarged union of 27 nations. France, like most countries, thought it safer to ratify the treaty in Parliament, where the government holds a majority.

But the Irish voted, and voted no. And there’s a lot of sympathy for them here.

France is thought to be the beating heart of the European vision, but the last time the French voted on an earlier version of Lisbon, in 2005, they voted no – and polls say they would reject it in its current form….

Full article

Dimanche Dialogue Entre Daniel Balavoine et Francois Mitterrand
Sunday June 29th 2008, 3:22 pm
Filed under: celebs,conspiracy theories,conversations

daniel balavoine francois mitterand confrontation and conspiracies
As a chronic conspiracy theorist and as a person who strongly believes that no politician is good, this imagined dialogue spawned from my various psycho suspicions. It’s a conversation between Late French Singer/Activist Daniel Balavoine and Late President of the French Republic Francois Mitterrand – based on a very well-known confrontation between the two on a talk show in 1980. (Here’s a transcription in French.) Perhaps more “Dialogues Entre Quelqu’un et Quelqu’un d’autre” in France will surface here if I remember to post some. Something for Sundays.

Anyway, back to the dialogue between two dead people.

During the fateful day on live French TV, it appeared that Francois Mitterrand, then running for French President, attempted to lure the youth vote by having the popular singer invited as a “trophy” guest on the live talk show. It was obvious that they had no intention of letting Balavoine say anything. So, Balavoine exploded in anger. He insisted on having air-time for what he had to say, and, in a nutshell, he was trying to represent young adults expressing that they shared a sense of hopelessness because of many unanswered questions and ignored problems. They no longer believed in French politics and policies and felt desperate. He wanted to warn world leaders, which seemed like a direct criticism to Mitterand, that if the situation did not improve, this desperation would surely result in devastating consequences.

I don’t believe Mitterrand was very pleased. That being said, I’m positive the communist party wasn’t very happy, either, with what Balavoine said about them. (He’d questioned what they REALLY did with the money they received.) Wait. Balavoine also criticized Gaston Deferre, who was mayor of Marseille at the time, remarking that he and his administration were not the best societal role models…

Daniel Balavoine was killed in 1986 in a SO-CALLED, “accident.” YES. I don’t really think it was an accident.

It could have been Deferre! Hold on. He also mentioned that M. Soisson, the Ministre de la jeunesse / the Youth Minister, is OLD! And how could a Youth Minister truly act on behalf young adults if he, himself, is old. It might have been Soisson!


French Space Agency CNES Puts Secret UFO Archive Online
Sunday June 29th 2008, 6:37 am
Filed under: articles,cultural differences,daily life,history,news,stories,websites

From iht:

France’s space agency, CNES put its entire UFO sightings archive on the web.

“The saucer-shaped object is said to have touched down in the south of France and then zoomed off. It left behind scorch marks and that haunting age-old question: Are we alone in this big universe of ours?

This is just one of the cases from France’s secret “X-Files” — some 100,000 documents on supposed UFOs and sightings of other unexplained phenomena that the French space agency is publishing on the Internet.

France is the first country to put its entire weird sightings archive online, said Jacques Patenet, who heads the space agency’s UFO cell — the Group for Study and Information on Nonidentified Aerospace Phenomena.

Their oldest recorded sighting dates from 1937, Patenet told The Associated Press in an interview Friday. The first batch of archives went up on the agency’s Web site this week, drawing a server-busting wave of traffic.

“The Web site exploded in two hours. We suspected that there was a certain amount of interest, but not to this extent,” Patenet said.

The archive includes police and expert reports, witness sketches (some are childlike doodlings), maps, photos and video and audio recordings. In all, the archive has some 1,650 cases on record and some 6,000 witness accounts.

The space agency, known by its French initials CNES, said it is making them public to draw the scientific community’s attention to unexplained cases and because their secrecy generated suspicions that officials were hiding something.

“There’s always this impression of plots, of secrets, of wanting to hide things,” Patenet said. “The great danger would be to…” (more…)

The Hidden Gardens of Paris
Saturday June 28th 2008, 1:53 am
Filed under: art/culture/design,articles,garden,news,paris,travel and places,travel tip

From the nyt:
gardens in paris
“Next to the Palais de la Découverte, just off the Champs-Élysées, is a flight-of-fancy sculpture of the 19th-century poet Alfred de Musset daydreaming about his former lovers. As art goes, the expanse of white marble is pretty mediocre, and its sculptor, Alphonse de Moncel, little-remembered. For me, however, it is a crucial marker. To its right is a path with broken stone steps that lead down into one of my favorite places in Paris, a tiny stage-set called Jardin de la Vallée Suisse.

Part of the Champs-Élysées’ gardens, this “Swiss Valley” was built from scratch in the late 19th century by the park designer Jean-Charles Adolphe Alphand. It is a lovely illusion, where nothing is quite what it appears at first sight. The rocks that form the pond and waterfall are sculptured from cement; so is the “wooden” footbridge. But the space — 1.7 acres of semitamed wilderness in one of the most urban swaths of Paris — has lured me, over and over again. My only companions are the occasional dog walker and the police woman making her rounds.

On a park bench there, I am enveloped by evergreens, maples, bamboo, lilacs and ivy. There are lemon trees; a Mexican orange; a bush called a wavyleaf silktassel, with drooping flowers, that belongs in an Art Nouveau painting; and another whose leaves smell of caramel in the fall. A 100-year-old weeping beech shades a pond whose waterfall pushes away the noise of the streets above. The pond, fed by the Seine, can turn murky, but the slow-moving carp don’t seem to mind, nor does the otter that surfaces from time to time.

The Swiss Valley is one of the most unusual of Paris’s more than 400 gardens and parks, woods and squares. Much grander showcases include wooded spaces like the Bois de Vincennes on the east of the city and the Bois de Boulogne on the west, and celebrations of symmetry in the heart of Paris like the Tuileries and the Luxembourg.

But I prefer the squares and parks in quiet corners and out-of-the-way neighborhoods. Many are the legacy of former President Jacques Chirac. In the 18 years he served as mayor of Paris, he put his personal stamp on his city by painting its hidden corners green.

“He took some of the pathetic, shabby squares and gardens and transformed and adorned them,” said Claude Bureau, one of the city’s great garden historians who was chief gardener of the Jardin des Plantes for more than two decades. “He appreciated….”

Read the full article


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Friday France Photos: Physialis
Friday June 27th 2008, 9:32 am
Filed under: daily life,food and drinks,garden,nature,pastries,photos

physialis lantern flower edible
Dad-in-law showed me this pretty flowery tomato thing growing in their garden in the north of France but I kept forgetting what it was called so I repeatedly asked him about it. “Just think of the sexually transmitted disease, Syphilis, because that rhymes with Physialis, sort of.”

Rather an unpleasant association, but I guess it works. In the English speaking world, this delicate and beautiful plant is known as Physalis, Chinese Lantern, Strawberry Tomato, Winter Cherry, Bladder Cherry or Cape Gooseberry, and is a relative of the tomatillo in the Solanaceae family.
physialis lantern flower edible
They are so delicate with a paper-like shell that really does resemble a Japanese or Chinese lantern. Add them to flower arrangements as well as desserts and meals for an artistic and exotic visual impact.

physialis lantern flower edible

They have a unique flavor. Maybe it’s because I expect them to taste like tomatoes, I’m not sure, but they are a teeny tiny bit like cherry tomatoes and plums with a hint of pineapple and a strange unidentifiable aftertaste.

Note: The unripe Physialis is poisonous, so please avoid those. However, the ripe fruit can sometimes cause intestinal distress so please consume in small quantities…like one or two in a sitting.