Category: advice

May 18th, 2015 by Patricia

Some of us are lucky enough to live the City of Light, where romance permeates the air and where you are always surrounded by beauty. If you live in Paris, you know that it’s a lot different as a resident than as a visitor. Yes, you are living in one of the most amazing cities in the world but it’s not always easy to manage every day life. Take, for example, raising your family. Of course, you’ll be speaking French since it is the default language of France and most probably, your mother tongue especially if you were born and raised there. Your kids will be speaking it in no time but before they get too old, how about considering a second language (English, for example) for them to learn while it’s still very easy? Read more of this article »

Posted in advice, education Tagged with:

April 17th, 2013 by ptinfrance

Just when you’re beginning to spot all the radars on the road, these show up. The new radars they’re installing all over France are higher up than the old box ones and they can do much more than their predecessors. For example, not only will they flash you if you’re speeding by it, they can also measure the distance between you and another car (so the tailgater, whether a local or not, will get ticketed). They come in two sets so they also can measure your speed based on the distance between the two radars. The ones we noticed were about 5 kilometers apart. In other words, if you’re not speeding when you pass the first radar but begin to speed afterward, if your average speed is above the limit you will get ticketed because the second radar is also watching you and clocks you. This means you can get ticketed even though you’re not speeding by the radars (but were in-between). I’m not explaining this very well but simply watch your speed and keep an eye out for these new radars. Of course, if you never speed while driving, you have nothing to worry about.

radar and flash
I’m not advocating that you join the ranks of formula one drivers (please drive safely!), and I realize that it’s best to stay within the legal speed limits. However, sometimes we’re not sure of the speed limit. It’s merely a heads-up because frankly, we just need to know.

For what it’s worth, there are surely apps to let you know where radars are and/or where you can inform them of new radar locations.

Posted in advice, cars/bikes/etc, daily life, news, tips, travel tip

August 24th, 2009 by ptinfrance

banque en ligne monabank
Click on image to view video
The following clip might make some of you cringe, particularly those of you who bank in a large French city, and no matter what you do, can’t seem to contact your own banker. Ever. Since I’m not one of those people anymore (Our bank is in a small town where I have easy access to our banker. Yes, that IS possible.), this spot is sort of hilarious – but I’ve been there so know that I feel for you if this scenario is more of a reality in your life. The good news is that if you hang in there (the spot is sort of long), it offers a solution!!! NOTE: In French.

Posted in advice, cultural differences, daily life, funny, tips Tagged with: , , ,

May 23rd, 2009 by ptinfrance

car accident in france
From jaunted:

“All this week Jaunted contributor Eric Rosen has been filling us in on his recent field trip, drinking his way through France. Today, however, he has a major buzzkill to report. Here’s how he learned to deal with denting a rental car in a foreign country.

Renting a car in a foreign land can be a pretty daunting prospect. You don’t know how compact a “compact” will be until you try squeezing in your luggage, your mother, and a few presents for friends back home into a tiny Citroën hatchback. You also pray that you remember how to drive a stick-shift well enough to avoid any accidents. Accidents do happen, though, and you should be prepared, especially when renting internationally.

The first and most important thing you should find out is whether your credit card offers insurance when you rent a car. Call your company, learn all you can about the program and its terms, and decide whether you should go with their program or with the rental agency’s. Usually the credit card’s insurance is a better choice since they are looking out for their cardholders’ interests (for once!), and you’ll have someone on your side in case you get into a scrape—no pun intended.

Many credit cards also offer life insurance and medical care as part of their package, which is not always the case with foreign rental companies. Just be sure you decline the agency’s third-party liability insurance when you sign the rental agreement, otherwise your credit card insurance is void.

Photo Op
Take pictures of the car before you drive it. The last thing you want is for the rental company to charge you for dings and dents that were already on the car when you picked it up. If you get into an accident, take pictures of everything as well, so you have visual proof of what happened, and what exactly your insurance should be paying for.

Call This Number
Every rental agreement has a number to call in case of accident or breakdown. Call it. Immediately. When someone picks up, insist they speak English so that you know exactly what is going on and what they are instructing you to do. It is also a good to look up a list of common car and accident words in the language you will be operating in before your trip. That way, you can explain small problems to a mechanic if something goes wrong along the way.

Then call your insurance company—have their number with you at all times—and explain the situation so that they can start a file on the claim.

If it’s only a dent or scrape, and the car is still driveable, you will only have to fill out a form when you return the car. Get a copy of that form to send to your insurance company so they can start the claims process.

If your accident is more serious than that, or if there are injuries, fill out a police report, seek medical care, and keep a record of all the files and bills involved to submit to your insurance.

When You Get Home
Make sure your insurance company has all the necessary documents, forms and information it needs…then wait. It usually takes about 45 days to process a claim. If the rental agency tries to charge you preemptively for the damages, have your credit card put the charges on hold until the situation is resolved.”

Posted in advice, cars/bikes/etc, tips, travel and places, travel tip

April 20th, 2009 by ptinfrance

Boudin noir? Poulet rôti? Moules Frites? Un moelleux au chocolat? How ’bout some foie gras or a nice juicy côte de boeuf? I know you’ve been dying for a tête de veau, haven’t you? When you travel all the way to Paris, does it ever occur to you to hit the pavement in search of a croque monsieur? I mean, a really, really good croque monsieur? Well, the best one in Paris has truffles in it. I would travel all the way to Paris for that. If it was really exceptional, I wouldn’t even mind if it didn’t have any truffles. At the same time, I can’t imagine going to a fancy restaurant for a croque monsieur but hey, the best club sandwich in Paris is supposedly from Georges V, and I bet it is not a bon marché. I wouldn’t want to pay too much for a club sandwich, but my sweetie probably would. He LOVES club sammiches. Anyway, on to the book.

Je me ferais bien un… is a new Paris restaurant guide book in French written by Valérie Expert and Véronique André, and is a little different from most other Paris restaurant guides. The authors made it a mission to try a significant number of restaurants (they say they tried them all but c’mon) in Paris to find the best places for the French’s 52 most favorite foods and dishes suitable for all budgets. So in many cases you can choose a dish or dessert, for example, and find the best couscous from a fancy restaurant, a mid-range bistro or a budget restaurant.
steak in france

The book is organized in alphabetical order. So during those times when you say to yourself, “Je me ferais bien un… / I feel like a…” just look for the dish in the book you feel like eating then go from there. We can’t wait to try out the recommendations! Will their listings for the best hamburger pass our test? We will see about that. Oui, by the way, the hamburger is apparently a favorite among the French.

Here’s the list of dishes included in the book, if you were wondering: andouillette, assiette de légumes, baba, bar, blanquette de veau, boudin noir, caesar salad, cassoulet, choucroute, club sandwich, côte de boeuf, couscous, crêpes, croque-monsieur, eclairs/religieuses, foie de veau, foie gras, gambas, gigot d’agneau, gibier, hachis parmentier, hamburger, île flottante, langoustines, magret de canard, mille-feuille, moelleux au chocolat, moules-frites, os à moelle, oeuf/omelette, paris-brest, pâtes, petit salé aux lentilles, pigeon, pieds de porc grillés, pizza, plateau de fruits de mer, poulet roti, pot-au-feu, raie, risotto, ris de veau, salade thaï, sole, soufflé, sushi/sashimi, souple chinoise, tapas, tartare, tarte au pommes, tête de veau, truffe.

Je me ferais bien un…

Posted in advice, books/magazines, daily life, food and drinks, news, paris, restaurants, reviews, tips, travel and places, travel tip

January 27th, 2009 by ptinfrance

la greve generale general protest january 29 2009

La Grève!

Just a heads up to those interested: There will be a huge strike on Thursday, January 29. Everywhere. Nearly Everyone. La Grève générale ! A general strike. I hope there will be a huge turnout. What is is about? Pretty much everything: the financial crisis, weak purchasing power, human rights, etc. It is basically the reaction of La rage du peuple! Be prepared to face some huge perturbations especially if you need to get anywhere. The syndicates are saying this will be absolutely immense, bigger than ever before.

La Grève!!!

Posted in advice, cultural differences, daily life, news, people, politics, tips

December 1st, 2008 by ptinfrance

It’s Cyber Monday! Regrettably, France doesn’t have a Cyber Monday (POURQUOI!?) but just in case you didn’t know about it, it’s like Black Friday, but without the angst and panicked flooded crowds pushing-shoving-stampeding to get the best sale deals of the year. Cyber Monday is an online shopping day with many internet merchants offering free shipping with those hard-to-beat sales – a much calmer shopping experience.

From wikipedia:
The term Cyber Monday refers to the Monday immediately following Black Friday, the ceremonial kick-off of the holiday online shopping season in the United States between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. Whereas Black Friday is associated with traditional brick-and-mortar stores, “Cyber Monday” symbolizes a busy day for online retailers. The premise was that consumers would return to their offices after the Black Friday weekend, making purchases online that they were not able to make in stores. Although that idea has not survived the test of time, Cyber Monday has evolved into a significant marketing event, sponsored by the National Retail Federation’s division, in which online retailers offer low prices and promotions.

It’s one of the best ways and days to shop for holiday gifts without the hassle.


Posted in advice, cultural differences, daily life, news, outside of France, products, shopping, tips

November 30th, 2008 by ptinfrance

internet safety in france psa

Apparently parents haven’t been too concerned about kids’ safety on the internet because I’m afraid some unpleasant things have been taking place in France, and Europe in general. I don’t know the specifics and we probably don’t really WANT to know what’s been going on, but the government is on to something and has produced some public service announcements called ““Où est Arthur ? La sécurité des enfants et des adolescents sur internet”” (Where is Arthur? Childrens’ and Teenagers’ Safety on the Internet). The spots have been translated in 12 European languages and will be airing on TV and radio during Christmas time.

This PSA, created by Le ministre du travail, des relations sociales, de la famille et de la solidarité, should be a frightening reminder to parents that there are lots and lots and LOTS of scary and CRAZY people out there that can easily get into contact with their kids. Beware, please! Click on the photo above or here to watch the video.

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[Merci Martin!]

Posted in advertising & marketing, advice, cultural differences, daily life, kids, news, tips, websites

October 12th, 2008 by ptinfrance

According to an advice author French women don’t sleep alone because they have a knack for attracting men. Apparently, American women don’t have this knack. Um. Ok.

From topnews:

French women have “an effortless gift for attracting men” that American ladies lack and need to learn, says author Jamie Cat Callan, in her forthcoming advice book.

In her “ French Women Don’t Sleep Alone”, which is due to hit the shelves in March, the writer tries to guide American ladies to learn from their French rivals who have a natural flair of pulling men.

“French women don”t listen to Dr. Phil”s advice,” the New York Post quoted Callan, as saying in the book.

It said: “They don”t worry about the care and feeding of their boyfriends . . . American women are trying too hard – and the results have been grim.

“On the contrary, French women”s love lives are romantic, sensual, playful, complicated, intense and positively epic.”

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Posted in advice, books/magazines, conspiracy theories, cultural differences, daily life, news, people, weird

September 20th, 2008 by ptinfrance

From AP:

“After tainted baby milk, now toxic chairs from China.

Customers in France who bought Chinese-made recliners are complaining of stinging allergic rashes and infections.

One customer, Caroline Morin, said yesterday that she was stunned to learn the chair she bought last December appears to have caused the skin problems she says she suffered for months.

“You sit comfortably on something and in fact you have a bomb under your butt,” she said.

The French distributor, Conforama, warned clients in July that some of the chairs and sofas presented an allergy risk “in rare cases.” It has withdrawn them from sale and now says the health problems were linked to an anti-fungal chemical in the chairs.

The case gained attention this week following French media reports exposing problems suffered by people who bought the chairs.

One was Dolores Ennrich, who says that because of long-term illness she spent a lot of time sitting in the recliner she purchased in March 2007.

She says she suffered painful eczema and skin infections on her left thigh, back, and left arm.

“It went away, it came back, it went away. That went on for more than a year,” she said. “It is very painful.”

Conforama says it has severed its commercial ties with the Chinese supplier, Linkwise, and told its other suppliers to no longer use the chemical, dimethyl fumarate, to prevent mold.

Linkwise is based in the manufacturing hub of Dongguan in southern China.

A man who answered the phone at the company said yesterday that the firm is working with the Chinese government’s quality inspection watchdogs to investigate the problem. He would not give details.”

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Posted in advice, articles, daily life, news, products, shopping, tips, weird

July 26th, 2008 by ptinfrance

Visitors from other countries who’ve come to France know that it’s expensive here. But guess what? It’s expensive even for the people living in France! Prices have skyrocketed nonstop since 2002 and even the prices for the items that were usually very affordable, like vegetables, have increased exponentially. Over the last six years, it’s been continually increasing, and over the period of this last year alone, the cost vegetables increased by 18%. The media reports that the industry is blaming the bad weather.

People stopped buying because of the these recent high prices, so now the prices are starting to drop. A little.

Still, for many of us, times are precarious financially, so the best course of action would be to be very careful about how we spend our money without resorting to the high caloric, trans-fatty, cheap, processed foods. Here are some ideas to help reduce your monthly grocery bills while trying to stick to healthful alternatives. Feel free to contribute anything I’ve missed.

General Tips

1. Shop locally. If possible, within a distance where you can walk to the store and back. This saves enormously on gas if you don’t have to drive. Bring a rolling cart if necessary. There are so many now that are actually cute.

2. Shop alone. Studies show that when you shop with someone, you spend more.

3. If you have to drive to the market, consolidate your trips and buy more so you don’t have to make as many trips.

4. Before going to the market make a grocery list even if it’s short. Bring it with you and make sure you stick to it. This will focus your shopping task and not allow for whim items. Not on the list? Don’t get it!

5. Don’t go to the market hungry. Eat beforehand. This will curb your impulse buying reducing any items you don’t need.

6. Get a basket. If you don’t have much to get, don’t get a cart because you’ll fill it up unnecessarily.

7. Shop in the periphery of the store. Usually, this is where your healthier options lie. You will find some cheaper items hiding but if not, this area will house the fresh produce.

8. Eat less and eat out less. This may be hard for some people. If that is against your beliefs and just HAVE to go out to eat, go out to lunch instead of dinner. You usually spend less.

9. Meat Eaters – reduce the frequency of meat. From eating meat every day, eat meat just once a week.

10. Pay special attention to price per unit. Some items are cheaper if you buy the smaller amount than a larger amount. This is a dirty trick by our beloved commercants.

11. Forget coupons. Some people swear to them but in France, the coupons are not that great of a deal (i.e., 10 cents off or so). Besides, many couponed items are for expensive and unhealthful processed foods.

12. Be wary about what is on “promotion” (on sale). Oftentimes it is not a deal at all. Other times, something on sale is not edible, meaning near rotten or expired. Remember: cheap doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you. Be particularly vigilant with meat.

13. Eat leftovers. Do not waste any edible food! Get creative with it and if you don’t know what to do with leftovers, try to find online recipes with items you have.

14. Grow your own, raise your own. Plant a garden of veggies, herbs, sprouts and fruit. This is late to start now and this is not a feasible option for some city dwellers. If you have the space, next year plant a potager/veggie garden, you will not regret it. Your veggies will be delish, you can skip toxic pesticides, and you will save so much money. And, if at all possible, have your own chickens for eggs.

15 Reduce and if possible eliminate junk food. Junk food is expensive, very unhealthful and puts on pounds. I know! This is hard.

16. Buy dry goods in bulk. Like dried beans, lentils, peas, rice and other grains. Know your beans, too. These are high in nutrients, usually a better value, and you can store them for quite a while. Plus, you don’t participate in wasteful packaging.

17. Eliminate eating at Fast Food places: MacDo’s, Quick, the American fast food joints, even Flunch. Ok, Flunch and other chain restaurants like it are cheap but….just leave them out, will you?

18. Check your receipts carefully. Sometimes money is wasted on mistakes.

19. If you grow your own fruit and vegetables, think about preserving them (mason jars) or dehydrating them – so they can last all year.

20. Eat produce that is in season. They are always cheaper in season.

Specific Tips

1. Wine – This comes from my dad-in-law, who is a wine connoisseur. Some of his favorite wines are half price at Aldi, so that could be a good resource for wine people. He’s seen the exact wines twice as expensive in Carrefour and Auchan. These aren’t just run-of-the-mill wines. Be flexible because they don’t often carry the same wines.

2. Negotiate for vegetables/fruits at Outdoor Markets – Merchants are really ok with you negotiating a better price. It’s no big deal. Besides, they know they’re overcharging you, so get them down in price as much as possible. Also, if you show up at the outdoor market before closing, you can get a really great deal. Many of them do not want to bother putting what’s left back into their trucks, so you can really bargain. In some cases, they just leave perfectly good veggies and fruit for the taking.

3. Make your own salad dressing – Most people I know do this already but if you buy the premixed version, try making your own at home. It’s less expensive, it’s better for you and you don’t have the same kind every time you eat a salad at home.

4. Frozen veggies vs. canned – If you can’t get fresh veggies, opt for frozen ones as opposed to canned. They tend to have more vitamins and nutrients.

5. Buy less expensive cuts of meat. If you’re used to getting, for example, filet mignon, faux filet or entrecôte, opt to get a bavette or ground beef. The bavette is a bit on the tough side so you might use it for stews and other long and slow cooked meals.

6. Don’t buy already skinned and de-boned pieces of chicken. Get their skinned versions as well as the pieces with the bone included. It’s much cheaper.

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Posted in advice, daily life, food and drinks, health, kids, shopping, tips, wine