Category: articles

February 24th, 2010 by ptinfrance

anti smoking ad in france shocking and in bad taste
Tagline: To smoke is to be a slave of tobacco.

It’s clear that who ever was responsible for this anti-smoking ad for teens in France was in search of shock value. The article from the telegraph says it shocked France, but I doubt that. It’s definitely in poor taste and has a lame sexual innuendo but I believe people here would just do their Gallic shrug and unexcitedly say, “Pffff.” I’m sure these anti-smoking ads will not in the slightest deter teens from smoking, in any case.

Here’s an excerpt from the telegraph:

The adverts, presented earlier this week, show an older man in a suit pushing down on the head of a teenager with a cigarette in her mouth, in a position that suggests oral sex. Another version of the advert shows a teenage boy in a similar position. The accompanying slogan reads: “Smoking means being a slave to tobacco”.

“The campaign trivialises sexual abuse – worse, it implies guilt on the part of the abused,” read one angry comment on the website of “Droits des Non-Fumeurs” (“Non-smokers’ Rights), the organisation behind the campaign.

Droits des Non-Fumeurs said the posters showed neither rape nor abuse, but were meant to shock.
The adverts, which will be published in newspapers and bars, are designed to target young people in France, who are beginning to smoke in increasing numbers despite a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants.

Read the full article

Posted in advertising & marketing, articles, news, weird Tagged with: , , , , ,

September 7th, 2009 by ptinfrance

HEE. Doesn’t everyone already KNOW he’s short? Anyway.

From the telegraph:

Twenty short people were ordered to stand behind French President Nicolas Sarkozy to make him look taller while delivering a televised speech.

They were bused in after being “vetted” by aides of the French President who made sure none were more than his own height of 5ft 5ins.

The extraordinary scene unfolded at the Faurecia motor technology plant in Caligny, south of Caen, in Normandy, last Thursday.

Despite Mr Sarkozy’s lack of inches, he looked far more statuesque than usual as he posed in front of the group of white-coated technicians on a specially erected stage.

In a broadcast on French television on Monday, a woman researcher admitted on camera that she had been chosen because of her small size.

Asked by the TV journalist Jean-Philippe Schaller if it was necessary for her to be no taller than the President’s 5ft 5ins – a height which rises to around 5ft 7ins thanks to his stacked heels – she replied: “There you have it.”

Pictures were then shown of the 20 workers on board a coach which brought them in from other parts of the three-mile-square Faurecia site.

All admitted that they were among the smallest members of the 1,400-strong Faurecia workforce, and had been selected to replace the usual workers in the unit where Mr Sarkozy made his speech about the car industry.

Mr Sarkozy, who is notoriously…

Continue reading

Posted in articles, funny, people, politics, weird Tagged with: , , , ,

August 22nd, 2009 by ptinfrance

From AP:

Paris’ Picasso Museum is closing its doors for renovations, spiriting away its masterpieces under high security to government warehouses for more than two years while seeking to expand the much-visited but cramped site.

The museum will be free to all visitors Sunday, the last day before the work begins.

It will stop lending out Picasso artworks during the overhaul, which will begin with experts updating, computerizing and restoring the inventory, museum director Anne Baldassari said Saturday.

The museum, in a baroque mansion in Paris’ Marais district, opened in 1985, and it traces the Spanish-born artist’s prolific career. Picasso died in 1973.

Renovation of the 3,000-square-meter (32,000-square-foot) space will begin early next year. It is expected to last two years and cost euro20 million, the museum said in a statement.

“It needs modernizing,” Baldassari said, citing electrical problems and the need to make it more accessible to people with reduced mobility.

She also wants to boost attendance — currently at about half a million people a year — and attract more young people by expanding exhibition space and adding halls for student activities.

While the museum has about 5,000 pieces in stock, it only displays 250-300 at a time, she said. “We can’t continue like this,” she said.

To guard against theft of the museum’s riches during the renovation, the artworks will be packaged and shipped, under tight security, to storerooms managed by the national museum authority, Baldassari said. The entire process is very “locked-up and watched by police,” she said on France-Info radio, declining to give further details.

Picasso’s paintings, sculptures and sketches are among the world’s most coveted artworks and are often targeted by thieves.

The museum will continue to host education and cultural events related to the Picasso collection at other sites while the renovation is done.

Posted in art/culture/design, articles, news, paris, tips, travel tip Tagged with: , , ,

August 13th, 2009 by ptinfrance

From the guardian:

“So Alton Towers has banned embarrassingly titchy swimming trunks at its water park. But spare a thought for France, where the opposite is true: local authorities regularly force men to ditch their Bermudas and parade in skin-tight budgie-smugglers for the greater public good.

In French public pools, from the racing lanes of Paris to the open-air lidos and water parks of the south, anything bigger than Speedos is banned and you must hoist yourself into a posing pouch as a civic requirement. French changing rooms are littered with the broken dreams of prudish males abroad who thought they could sneak in a few lengths without showing their contours.

One Paris-based Irish journalist recalls how he attempted some early-morning back-stroke in a pair of standard Marks & Spencer navy swim shorts that came “about halfway down my thighs”. As he lowered himself into the shallow end, the pool attendant screamed that…”

Continue reading

Posted in articles, cultural differences Tagged with: , , ,

August 4th, 2009 by ptinfrance

champagne franceFrom wired:

“1693: Champagne is said to have been invented on this day by Dom Pierre Pérignon, a French monk. It almost certainly isn’t true.

Because Dom Pérignon lived at the Benedictine abbey in Hautvillers at the time of his “invention,” the village in France’s Champagne region, not far from Èpernay, is generally regarded as the birthplace of the bubbly.

But like many historical claims, the night they invented champagne appears more …”

Continue reading

Related: The Making of French Champagne, Radioactive French Champagne

Posted in articles, food and drinks, history, products Tagged with: , , , ,

February 27th, 2009 by ptinfrance

From stereogum:

“Turns out there’s still hope of getting paychecks in indie rock, just be cool with getting low-balled by French heads of state. The Wesleyan boys are seeking damages for President Sarkozy using “Kids” as his campaign soundtrack and in two web videos without just compensation. The administration did pay 53 euros to license the track, but MGMT’s lawyer claims that isn’t enough to cover the additional internet usage. Sarkozy’s counter offer: a sizable 1 (i.e. one) euro. Le you-got-served, MGMT. Actually, Sarkozy got served. With a lawsuit. Because that is statutory rape of his artist-fee obligations. (I’m a civil law expert, don’t worry about it.) Worth noting: The French government is in the midst of pushing through extensive anti-piracy and file-sharing legislation (i.e. vague irony). Sorry Sarkozy, MGMT are a very sexy duo who have international counsel for real. And all this after MGMT taught Paris the meaning of Thanksgiving. More at BBC.”

Posted in articles, funny, music, news, people

February 20th, 2009 by ptinfrance

jeff koons sculptures at versailles
I wonder if Jeff Koons, the artist whose sculptures are displayed at the Château de Versailles (until Dec 14), is responsible for those condom ads.

Versailles Exhibition (slideshow and article at nyt)

Posted in art/culture/design, articles, events, news, photos, tips, travel and places, travel tip

January 30th, 2009 by ptinfrance

From time:

“Perhaps nothing symbolized the American team’s efforts at the Bocuse d’Or better than its beef cheeks. At the world’s premier chef’s competition, which ended on Jan. 28 in Lyons, France, the Estonians transformed the cheeks — a required ingredient this year — into pot-au-feu, the Brazilians stuffed potatoes with them, and the Malaysians spiced them up into rendang. But the U.S. competitors, 28-year-old Timothy Hollingsworth and his assistant, Adina Guest, braised the meat until it was silky, set it on a tiny round of baby turnip, and topped it with a floret of broccolini. Smuggled through customs, the vegetables came straight from the garden of the famed French Laundry restaurant in Napa, California, where the two chefs work, and gave the presentation a delicious, locally grown flavor that could only be American. Sadly, in a context where extravagance and adherence to the rules of classical cooking take precedence, that might have been part of the problem.

From the heavy presence of seafood mousses to the cheesy compliments the MC paid the female judges, the Bocuse d’Or is nothing if not French. But because it is also a kind of culinary Olympics, with teams from 24 different countries competing over two days for a gold trophy that brings prestige and a $26,000 prize, the contest is imbued with national rivalries that extend from the fans in the bleachers to the flavors on the elaborate platters.

In fact, for the young chefs who compete in the contest — founded by revered French chef Paul Bocuse — navigating between the desire to demonstrate the glories of their national cuisine (to say nothing of their own creativity) and the wish to please a jury that tends to favor the classic French style is precisely the challenge. “If you’re playing soccer, you can’t use your hands,” says Antonio Saura, a Spanish filmmaker whose 2007 documentary El Pollo, el Pez, y el Cangrejo Real featured the competition. “The Bocuse is the same way: you have to play by their rules.”

Those rules are … ” continue reading

Posted in articles, cultural differences, events, food and drinks, news, people, Rhône-Alpes, Rhone

January 26th, 2009 by ptinfrance

From kotaku:

dr kawashima brain age nintendo“Just as researchers in Scotland say Brain Age works, researchers in France say it doesn’t. According to data from University of Rennes, Brittany, Brain Age failed to show any significant jump in memory.

What’s more, the game apparently made memory worse.

The research had a sample of ten year-old children split into four groups: The first two groups did a seven-week DS memory course, the third group did puzzles with pencil and paper, while the fourth group just went to school as regular. Before and after started each program, the groups did logic tests.

The results? The DS control group did not do significantly better — save for a 19 percent increase in math. (However, the pencil-and-paper group also had the same increase in math, and the just-go-to-school group had a 18 percent increase in math.) However, the pencil-and-paper group showed a 33 percent increase in memorization, while the DS groups did 17 percent worse. The kid who just went to school showed a 20 percent increase.

According to Alain Lieury, professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Rennes, “The Nintendo DS is a technological jewel. As a game it’s fine, but it is charlatanism to claim that it is a scientific test… There were few positive effects and they were weak. Dr Kawashima is one of a long list of dream merchants.”

Professor Lieury is publishing his findings in a new book, Stimulate Your Neurones, which is out this month.”

Posted in articles, food and drinks, news, products

January 18th, 2009 by ptinfrance


“Frenchman Lluis Colet broke the world record for the longest speech after rambling nonstop for 124 hours about Spanish painter Salvador Dali, Catalan culture and other topics.

The 62-year-old Catalan and local government worker spoke for five straight days and four nights to set the record in the southern French town of Perpignan.

Three notaries were on hand to recognise the feat which allows Colet to enter it in the Guinness Book of Records.

The previous record was held by an Indian man who delivered a 120-hour speech.

Colet began speaking at Perpignan’s railway station on Monday by reciting the works of famous authors or using some of his own writing. He also spoke profusely about Dali, a painter he admires, and Catalan culture.

Large crowds turned out in support of Colet, who received a rapturous applause at the end of his speech.

“This is a big day for me and I dedicate this record to all those who defend Catalan language and culture,” he said, his voice fainter after five days of nonstop talking.

Colet had set the record once before in 2004 when he spoke for 48 straight hours.” [source]

Posted in articles, funny, news, people, weird

January 14th, 2009 by ptinfrance

From iht:

“When the sommelier in the overpriced Paris restaurant started to refill the glass without asking, François Simon stopped his hand in midair before a drop could fall.

“I like to control the temperature of my wine,” he announced. “In a restaurant, I am horrified by having to obey. I want to be indulged.”

Simon may be the most feared and most read figure in France’s culinary world, an ordinary looking man with a fountain pen as razor-sharp as a butcher’s slaughter knife.

As food critic for the right-of-center Le Figaro newspaper for more than two decades, he has skinned, sliced, grilled and roasted his subjects, indifferent to the impact of his words on them, but can be thin-skinned when they hit back.

He once described a meal at the restaurant Guy Savoy, a Michelin favorite, as “a three-star crucifixion,” faulting Savoy for serving his signature artichoke and truffle soup out of season. Marc Veyrat, who enjoys an unheard-of perfect 20-20 score in the Gault-Millau guide, is for him a “clown” and “a fake peasant” with megalomaniacal tendencies.

He has extended his reach with books, a weekly cable television show in which he hides his face and a blog that includes his secret video recordings with a hand-held camera of some of the great and not-so-great tables of France.

Not content simply to pass judgment on others, Simon claims to be an accomplished cook himself. His blog, in both French and English, boasts that he can cook a chicken 200 ways.

Last month, though, he took a step that few of his colleagues would have dared. He closeted himself in the kitchen of the tiny, mural-tiled bistro Le Cochon à l’Oreille and cooked five nights in a row, each night for 20 or so diners who had won the free meals in a first-come-first-served Internet sign-up.

Simon’s debut as a chef occurred during the annual “Le Fooding” week, sponsored by a French gastronomic movement that he strongly supports and that promotes an egalitarian, irreverent approach to dining. He announced his kitchen stint on his blog and in his column, and by the time he was ready to cook, much of the French media world had taken note.

The meal was barely adequate, according to five diners one night. The pumpkin soup, seasoned heavily with ginger, vanilla and black sesame oil, was grainy, undercooked and so dense it stood up in stiff peaks.

“I’m disappointed,” said Julie Demarest, an administrator in a water purification company. “It’s thick — like oatmeal. I don’t like it.”

The spiced chicken with pine nuts and golden raisins filled the dinner plate, but was…” continue reading

Posted in articles, food and drinks, news, paris, people, restaurants

January 5th, 2009 by ptinfrance

america's oldest french bookstore is closing!

“America’s most famous French bookstore will close its doors this year after 73 years in business, unable to bear a staggering rent increase in New York’s Rockefeller Center.

Outside the Librairie de France, hordes of tourists take pictures of the Center, its ice-skating rink and tree, but inside one of the first retail tenants, the shelves are slowly emptied of books.

The reason for closing this venerable institution located at one of America’s most cherished retail addresses is a simple, albeit familiar one: the rent, which is due in September, is rising, from 360,000 dollars to a million dollars per year.

Online book sales at bargain prices and declining interest in foreign-language books have also affected the landmark Fifth Avenue business.

And in another sign of the times, most shoppers these days come to the area in search of clothes, cosmetics or electronics.

“Of course, we sell for 20 dollars a book that costs five euros (seven dollars) in Paris, but there are also shipping fees for online orders,” says Emmanuel Molho, who manages the family-run bookstore with his two children.

“No, what changed is the whole bookstore culture and the Rockefeller Center has become no more than just a commercial center…”

tags: , , , ,
Read more of this article »

Posted in articles, books/magazines, daily life, news, outside of France, shopping

December 8th, 2008 by ptinfrance

Unusual sales are taking place in Strasbourg. Read about it here. (in French)

Posted in advertising & marketing, articles, daily life, news, weird

November 25th, 2008 by ptinfrance

From torrentfreak:

“French record labels have received the green light to sue four US-based companies that develop P2P applications, including the BitTorrent client Vuze, Limewire and Morpheus. Shareaza is the fourth application, for which the labels are going after the open source development platform SourceForge.

Société civile des Producteurs de Phonogrammes en France (SPPF), an umbrella group for several record labels in France, claims that the four file-sharing applications facilitate mass copyright infringement. Although the companies (and applications) themselves have nothing to do with copyright infringement, SPPF believes it has a strong case.

The record labels argue that the Vuze and the others are knowingly distributing software with the purpose to permit unauthorized access to copyrighted works. In essence they are saying that everything, or every application which allows a user to share files, will be indeed used for illegal purposes. In contrast, in the US, companies that don’t encourage their users to commit copyright infringement with their applications, are not acting illegally.

SPPF had already sued the various companies and organizations last year, but until now it has been unclear whether the US based companies behind the applications could be prosecuted under French law. A French court has now ruled that this is indeed possible, which means that they can proceed to court.

Recent French legislation which inspired the labels to go after the P2P companies, suggests that all P2P applications must have a feature to block the transfer of unauthorized copyright works. The clients that are sued by SPPF obviously don’t have such a feature. In fact, it is questionable whether it would be technically possible to develop such a filter. Nevertheless, SPPF demands it, and is claiming millions of dollars in damages for lost revenue.

Vuze CEO Gilles BianRosa stated in a response to TorrentFreak, “While we appreciate the intent of the new French law, we believe SPPF’s complaint is misguided. Vuze is dedicated to the distribution of legitimate content using new technology. In that sense, our interests are aligned with the interests of all content owners, including SPPF’s members, against piracy.”

“We are disappointed that SPPF has taken this approach, given that our business is dedicated to the distribution of legitimate content,” BianRosa added. “SPPF’s claims against Vuze are simply wrong. The Vuze business complies fully with both French and American law. The recent ruling of the French Court was solely on a jurisdictional issue, not on any merits, and we believe it is in error.”

Interestingly, SPPF is also going after Sourceforge, the open source development website, because it hosts the P2P application Shareaza. Putting aside the discussion on the responsibilities of application developers for their users activities, the decision to go after SourceForge for hosting a application that can potentially …” Read the full article

Posted in articles, daily life, french laws, news, products, weird

November 13th, 2008 by ptinfrance

bent zucchini
From iht:

“Misshapen fruit and vegetables won a reprieve on Wednesday from the European Union as it scrapped rules banning overly curved, extra knobbly or oddly shaped produce from supermarket shelves.

Ending regulations on the size and shape of 26 types of fruit and vegetables, the European authorities killed off restrictions that had become synonymous with bureaucratic meddling.

The rising cost of commodities also persuaded the European Commission that there was no point in throwing away food just because it looked strange.

As of July, when the changes go into force, these standards for the 26 products, as varied as peas and plums, will disappear. European shoppers will then be able to choose their produce whatever its appearance.

For 10 other types of fruit and vegetables, including apples, citrus, peaches, pears, strawberries and tomatoes, shape standards will …”

Continue reading

tags: , , , ,

Posted in advertising & marketing, articles, cultural differences, daily life, food and drinks, funny, news, products, shopping, tips

November 8th, 2008 by ptinfrance

From torentfreak:

“Edging ever closer to becoming law, France’s “three-strikes” proposals have received support in the French Senate which voted overwhelmingly in favor for these draconian measures to deal with piracy. Now, a new report suggests that online piracy has become something of a ‘national sport’ in France.

The online file-sharing debate is really heating up in France. Contrary to advice from the European Court of Justice, France is pressing ahead with its plan for a controversial “3 strikes” or “graduated response” framework to deal with alleged file-sharers. Now, supported by a Le Figaro headline, “Piracy Has Become a National Sport in France”, a new study from market research company TNS Sofres is set to add fuel to the fire.

According to the poll of 2,011 people over 15 years old, the French use a diverse range of digital media to store or play pirated content. Of those questioned, 34% said their media players contained pirated files, with 20% admitting they go as far as using external hard drives to store illicit content. The USB storage key was used by 8% of respondents to shift illegal content, with 7% admitting to using mutimedia-capable cellphones.

Although the piracy ‘problem’ seems to be massive in France, it is certainly not limited to that one country. Just over the English Channel from France lies the UK, where an estimated 6 million people engage in online piracy – roughly 10% of the population. Across the pond, in the United States, a 2007 study found that 18 percent of the total US online population downloaded at least 1 movie from the Internet, illegally.

The French survey shows that the ‘problem’ is not limited to the younger generation, as is often assumed – it affects the entire population. The report further suggests that the actual numbers might be much greater than reported, but with news of draconian measures to deal with online piracy making headlines regularly, just how many people are prepared to be honest about their piracy habits?” [source]

tags: , , ,

Posted in articles, daily life, french laws, games/software/tech, news, weird

October 22nd, 2008 by ptinfrance

Update: According AFP, this item is a best seller at heee!

sarkozy voodoo doll

From reuters:

“French President Nicolas Sarkozy has threatened to sue a publishing company unless it withdraws a Sarkozy doll that comes with a “voodoo manual” instructing readers to plant pins in it, his lawyer said.

The doll is emblazoned with some of Sarkozy’s most famous quotes such as “Get lost you pathetic arsehole” — his words to a bystander who refused to shake his hand at a farm show last year. Readers are encouraged to plant pins in the quotes.

“Nicolas Sarkozy has instructed me to remind you that, whatever his status and fame, he has exclusive and absolute rights over his own image,” lawyer Thierry Herzog wrote to publishers K&B in a letter published by newspaper Le Monde.

Confirming details to Reuters, Herzog said Sarkozy would sue the publishing firm if it didn’t respond and pull the product. K&B has issued 20,000 copies of the manual and doll.

The company has also issued a Segolene Royal doll representing Sarkozy’s rival in last year’s presidential election. Her lawyer said she was also considering legal action.

Voodoo is a religion rooted in West Africa that is practiced in parts of the Caribbean, especially Haiti, and parts of the southern United States.

According to a widespread belief, voodoo worshippers can plant pins in dolls representing their enemies to curse them from afar.

However, voodoo experts say the practice has been widely misunderstood and misrepresented by outsiders.”

tags: , , ,

Posted in articles, funny, news, paris, people, politics, products, shopping, weird

October 18th, 2008 by ptinfrance

le cube cable box canal+ france

The people over at gizmodo find the new cable box, “le cube” a lot more “stylishly French” than I think it is… I don’t find it stylish nor particularly French, except for the fact that it’s in France. I WANT to like it, but it’s not working for me. Anyway. More about it below.

From gizmodo:

“French cable provide Canal+ teamed up with touted OLPC and Jawbone designer Yves Behar to produce “Le Cube,” their new, ultra-stylish HD cable box with DVR and video on demand functions. Looking like a Wii all dressed up for a formal event, Le Cube blends simple geometry with simple colors to create something that’s visually striking.

But looks aside, this thing puts all of its interactive electronics and LED display into the black square portion of the box, leaving the rest relatively unscathed. It even comes with a remote control that matches the black and white motif. Call me crazy, but I wouldn’t mind moving to France just to have this in my living room. Le Cube will be available for Canal+ subscribers around November 4.” [source]

tags: , , , , , , ,

Posted in art/culture/design, articles, daily life, fashion, games/software/tech, news, products, tips, tv and movies

October 15th, 2008 by ptinfrance

From bbc:

Football matches in France will be called off immediately if spectators jeer during the French national anthem, says the country’s sports minister.

France’s national anthem was booed in Tuesday’s friendly win over Tunisia.

“Any match at which our national anthem is whistled at will be immediately stopped,” said Roselyne Bachelot.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said the booing was “insulting” and that in the event of a repeat it would be necessary “to call off matches”.

“It’s insulting for France, it’s insulting for the players of the French team, it should not be tolerated,” he added.

“I think we should stop the matches when the anthems, whichever they are, are booed.”

Two goals from Thierry Henry gave France coach Raymond Domenech a much needed boost in cementing a 3-1 win in Paris.

But the booing and whistling by some in the crowd – many of them Tunisian – as the French anthem was played infuriated France’s political establishment.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has demanded an investigation into the matter.

President Sarkozy’s aides said he had summoned French Football Federation president Jean-Pierre Escalettes following the “scandalous incidents which occurred at the Stade de France”.

Bachelot added: “Government members will immediately leave the arena where our national anthem has been whistled.

“When whistling of our national anthem happens, all friendly games with the country concerned will be suspended for a period yet to be determined by the federation president.”

Sports Minister Bernard Laporte has suggested that France no longer play friendlies against Maghreb region countries.

There have been similar problems in recent years in matches against Algeria and Morocco.

Friendlies against North African sides traditionally attract widespread support from sizeable immigrant communities in and around the French capital.

Some booed when the names of the French players were read out over the PA system before kickoff, reaching a crescendo for Hatem Ben Arfa, born in France to Tunisian parents.

Arfa opted to play for the country of his birth despite overtures from the Tunisian Federation.

“I’m not really angry with them,” said Ben Arfa. “It’s a bit of a shame but it’s not a major problem. They need to exist, you have to understand them.”

tags: , , , ,

Posted in articles, events, funny, news, sports, weird

October 15th, 2008 by ptinfrance

french coffee and cafes going downhill

Over several years now, a strange thing has happened in France: the coffee started to suck. Yes, there were cafes that served terrible coffee forever, but for the most part in the early 2000s, it was still flavorful, very drinkable sludge espresso. It was French coffee, the coffee that I expected to have each time I came to France. I liked it, and the quality was very consistent from cafe to cafe. So when we moved to France six years ago, I was happy to be able to live the cafe experience, meeting people, hanging out, watching passers-by and sipping tasty coffee as often as I pleased. I used to always be surprised that I wouldn’t get the shakes if I had a double shot. However, soon afterward, I began not really enjoying my cuppa because of a declining quality, and in some cases, I developed a strange rash from drinking some brands of coffee, not to mention, getting the shakes (which I get when I drink American coffee). Slowly and surely, I reduced my consumption of coffee, and today, I don’t drink any coffee, whatsoever.

I miss it but I can’t seem to find anything I like. Apparently, I am not alone.

More and more people have stopped going to cafes, which has forced many cafes to close. In fact, since the beginning of this year, 610 cafes in France have closed their doors to the public forever. They just couldn’t make it. Many of these cafes had been in business for many generations.

Why did this happen? Expert have found many reasons that have played a contributing role, but for me, ultimately two were responsible, and it’s specifically these reasons that acted as the final coups de grace:

1.) The Case of the Free Coffee Machines – In the early 2000s, thousands of cafes were offered “free machines” for their establishments. “Free” is not entirely accurate and this “free” had heavy strings attached. In exchange for the free machines, the cafes were obliged to use coffee supplied by the company that offered the free machines. Guess what? That coffee is CRAP, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out which company offered the free machines. (see appropriately numbered, number 2 below)

2.) Good coffee companies were bought by evil corporations – There is no doubt in my mind that corporate mergers brought quality down in coffee; it happened right before my very eyes and taste buds.

There are other factors why cafes have shut down.

3.) People stopped going to cafes. Why? The coffee sucked! Also #4 below.

4.) Weak Purchasing Power – Crazy inflation occurred when France turned to the euro. Prices went up but salaries did not. That said, even with less money to dedicate to little luxuries, I feel that people would still frequent cafes if the coffee was good.

5.) The popularity of home coffee makers using capsules – I hate these with a passion, and I hate that they have become so popular. I don’t care what they taste like because I find them to be very unfriendly to the environment. So wasteful. Why oh WHY did George Cluny agree to do those “What Else” spots? Doesn’t he CARE? Having said that, I think people in general were looking for alternatives to find more tasty coffees since they couldn’t find them at the cafes.

6.) The Smoking Ban – Since smoking is no longer allowed in cafes, that has hurt businesses in a big way.

Related: Dirty Secrets of a Paris Cafe Waiter, What happens when Europeans watch too much American TV, Bamboo Coffee Filters,

tags: , , , ,

Posted in articles, business / economy, cultural differences, daily life, environment, food and drinks, french laws, health, products, tips, weird

October 10th, 2008 by ptinfrance

From sinolinx:

France has recalled sweets and biscuits made with Chinese dairy after finding high levels of an industrial chemical.

In China, four babies have died and 53,000 have fallen sick after consuming milk products contaminated with the chemical melamine.

The EU banned imports of Chinese baby food containing traces of milk in response to the scare last month.

The recall of White Rabbit sweets and Koala biscuits is the first such order to be made by a European country.

French consumers were warned to destroy or return the tainted products after tests showed high levels of melamine, which can cause kidney failure.

“The first results of tests conducted in France have shown a melamine level above the warning level set by the European Commission at 2.5mg per kilo,” the agriculture ministry said in a statement.

So far there have been no identified cases of health problems associated with the contamination in France.

The recall is the strongest measure yet taken by a European country amid a worldwide health scare over Chinese milk products that has led several countries to ban dairy imports from China.

It came as China issued new quality controls for its dairy industry and promised more severe punishment, including public naming, for anyone found to have violated safety standards.

Some Chinese dairy farmers are accused of fraudulently adding melamine to watered-down milk to make the product appear rich in protein and to fool quality control tests.”

Posted in articles, business / economy, chocolate, daily life, food and drinks, health, news, products, stories, tips

October 5th, 2008 by ptinfrance

From macworld:

“Network operator Orange will rate the environmental impact of the fixed-line and mobile phones it sells, it said Friday.

The company will publish eco-ratings for the first 30 products on its French Web-site in mid-October and will extend it to all the products it sells next year, it said.

Orange is the brand used by France Télécom for its mobile phone and Internet access activities in France, the U.K. and other European countries. Orange is the exclusive service provider for Apple’s iPhone in France; it also provides iPhone service in Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Liechtenstein, Romania, and Slovakia.

Orange’s ratings initially concern its French stores and networks, and are based on five indicators, compiled by the company BIO Intelligence Service:

* CO2 assessment, a measure of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by the phone’s manufacture and use;
* Energy efficiency, a gauge of the phone’s power consumption and of any features that allow consumption to be reduced;
* Resource preservation, a broad rating of whether the materials used to make the product are nonrenewable or whether, like the gold and tantalum used in electrical connections and capacitors, they come from what Orange describes as “sensitive economic or social environments”;
* Limitation of dangerous substances, a measure of whether the phone avoids the use of toxic chemicals—although the most dangerous of these are already prohibited by European Union law;
* Waste reduction, a rating of whether the device can be repaired and whether it or its packaging can be recycled.

Orange’s program, developed in conjunction with environmental group WWF, could give the French government some food for thought.

After the success of an eco-tax to penalize buyers of polluting vehicles and reward purchasers of vehicles with lower CO2 emissions, the government had talked of extending the measures to other products. Those plans were postponed last month because, the government said, there were no clear environmental criteria for products other than cars.

In France mobile phones—and most other electrical and electronic goods—are already subject to a special tax called “eco-participation,” intended to fund recycling of the products at the end of their lives. Although the current eco-tax on mobile phones differs from that for, say, photocopiers, it’s the same for all models of phone, and at just €0.01 (US$.01), is nowhere near enough to influence customers to choose more environmentally friendly products.”

tags: , , , ,

Posted in articles, daily life, environment, french laws, games/software/tech, health, nature, news, products, shopping, weird

October 1st, 2008 by ptinfrance

From bbcnews:

“…They are angry that the law does not allow them to use more modern hair-removal techniques on their clients.

It follows a series of prosecutions for professional misconduct against beauticians for using laser and “intense pulsed light” treatments.

Under a 1962 decree these more sophisticated methods are the preserve of qualified dermatologists.

But France’s National Confederation of Beauty Institutes (CNAIB) protests that customers nowadays expect the latest epilation technology, like “flash lamps”.

On Monday hundreds of beauty workers – estheticiennes – demonstrated outside the health ministry in Paris to demand that the industry’s governing regulations be brought up to date.

They accuse dermatologists and other professional groups of waging a turf war to keep out new competition.

“French beauticians are the only ones in Europe…..” Continue reading

tags: , , , ,

Posted in articles, cultural differences, daily life, french laws, nature, news, people, weird

October 1st, 2008 by ptinfrance

From iht:

“The French have always found American elections amusing, in a horror movie sort of way. They grumpily regard the American president as in some unfortunate sense also their own, but they see the campaign through their own cultural lens.

They value sophistication above almost anything, and so they regard their own hyperactive president, Nicolas Sarkozy, with his messy romantic life and model-singer wife, as “Sarko the American.”

But this year has been difficult for the French. Sarkozy has generally supported American foreign policy and has praised the United States’ openness and entrepreneurial verve. And the sudden emergence of Senator Barack Obama — black, and seen as elegant and engaged with the larger world — has sent many French into a swoon.

But the combination of two recent surprises — Governor Sarah Palin and America’s terrifying financial meltdown — has brought older, nearly instinctual anti-American responses back to the surface.

These two surprises, one after the other, have refreshed clichés retailed under President George W. Bush, confirming the deeply held belief of the French that the United States remains the frontier, led by impenetrably smug and incurious upstarts who have little history, experience or….” Read the rest

tags: , ,

Posted in articles, cultural differences, daily life, history, people, politics

September 28th, 2008 by ptinfrance

From gizmodo:

“One of the croissant-snarfing editors at Gizmodo France passed along this article that alleges the Mac Pro gives off toxic vapors. Translating from the language of lose to the language of guns, soccer moms and hot dogs results in a bit of discombobulation, but the gist is that a CNRS lab researcher got a Mac Pro, and after his eyes and respiratory tract were repeatedly agitated by a “stench,” decided to break down the noxious vapor coming off the Mac Pro. They found “seven volatile organic contaminants.” Though the worst they do inhaled is cause skin, eye and respiratory irritation—ingested is another story—benzene is the most troublesome, since inhaling it eight hours a day over could affect one’s bone marrow. Apple’s response?

The researcher says that after first alerting Apple to the issue, “I got the same answer each time, our skate launcher warning: ‘Our engineers are working on the problem.'” (I’m assuming “skate launcher” is a Google Translate cock-up. Giz France editor says “Skate Launcher warning = the guy from the CNRS lab who tried to warn Apple.”) Since publishing the report, Apple has promised “to resolve the problem in eight days.”

I wouldn’t chuck your Mac Pro out the window yet, but if you’re particularly digging that new car smell, I’d probably cut back on huffing it, until this is sorted out.”

tags: , , ,

Posted in articles, business / economy, daily life, games/software/tech, news, products, shopping, weird

September 22nd, 2008 by ptinfrance

From Timesonline:

“France may be home to some of the world’s finest wines but it could be about to join the tiny club of Muslim states that forbid their promotion on the internet.

Winemakers and other players in the drinks industry are fighting to avert a ban on advertising, sales and even vineyard websites that has been looming ever since a court ruled that the internet should be included in France’s strict laws regarding alcohol advertising.

The Heineken beer company was forced by the ruling last February to block French access to its corporate site. Since then, some of the biggest drinks brands have shut out French visitors for fear of prosecution. “Today in France, the sight of a bottle of wine has become as offensive as a picture of war or pornography,” said Daniel Lorson, a spokesman for CIVC, the industry body of champagne producers.

The industry complains that it is being demonised and that an internet ban would penalise hugely one of the glories of the French economy and the national heritage. A click from France on Courvoisier cognac, for example, elicits the message: “Sorry, the regulations of your country do not authorise us to give you access to our site.”
Web users from France are even banned from dropping in on Orlando wines in South Australia, because they are owned by France’s Pernod Ricard drinks group. The site does, however, welcome visitors from Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Even the…. Read the article

tags: , ,

Posted in advertising & marketing, articles, cultural differences, daily life, food and drinks, french laws, news, politics, products, shopping, weird, wine

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.”

tags: , , , ,

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

September 15th, 2008 by ptinfrance

From AP:

“Plastic forks, disposable diapers, drafty houses _ if it hurts the environment, make it cost more. That’s the message France’s government wants to send with a raft of proposed new taxes.

France’s ecology minister said Sunday the government is considering a “picnic tax” on disposable dishes to encourage people to use reusable plates and cups instead.

Speaking on Europe-1 radio, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said the plan wouldn’t stop at picnicware. For example, she said, “We could make it so that in all public maternity wards, you would be taught to use washable diapers.”

She said a new carrot-and-stick plan already applied to cars is being spread to other environmentally damaging products such as paints and detergents.

The plan offers a bonus of up to $7,000 to buyers of fuel-efficient cars, but as of next year it will slap extra fees of up to a few thousand euros (dollars) on the cost of heavy polluters like SUVs.

The idea is meant to change the habits of both consumers and manufacturers by getting people to calculate the environmental cost of their waste, though some critics _ even within the Finance Ministry _ fear it could crimp growth.

Kosciusko-Morizet said the plan could be spread to some 20 other types of products, from paints to household appliances and detergents. She said the tax would be determined based on the “recyclability” of the product, among other things.

And she said it could even be extended to homes, based on how energy-efficient they are.

The financial details of the taxes have yet to be worked out. Some will be introduced in the 2009 budget, which the government will present at the end of the month.”

tags: , ,

Posted in articles, daily life, environment, news, politics, products, shopping

August 23rd, 2008 by ptinfrance

pierrelatte france

This time the uranium leak is in Pierrelatte, which actually shares the same nuclear power facilities as Tricastin, where the last two leaks were found, but the media has been suspiciously removing “Tricastin” from this news and are making people think that Pierrelatte is not in the same place. Well, it IS in the same place.

Tricastin and Pierrelatte are villages next to each other and they share the same nuclear power site, referred to as “Tricastin-Pierrelatte.” Pierrelatte happens to be in the Drome department and Tricastin is in the Vaucluse department but they are literally “across the street” from each other. Areva, the company responsible for the nuclear power plants, is the very same company responsible for all of the other uranium leaks in the area, and again is saying that it is a “small” leak and therefore of little consequence.” YEA RIGHT. article (in French)

Links: more uranium leaks, Greepeace suing Areva

tags: , , , , , , ,

Posted in articles, business / economy, daily life, Drome, environment, health, nature, news, politics

August 21st, 2008 by ptinfrance

From AP:

“France’s broadcast authority has banned French channels from marketing TV shows to children under 3 years old, to shield them from developmental risks it says television viewing poses at that age.

The ruling also ordered warning messages for parents on foreign baby channels that are broadcast in France _ such as Baby TV, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., and BabyFirstTV, which has ties to News Corp.’s Fox Entertainment.

The High Audiovisual Council, in a ruling published Wednesday, said it wanted to “protect children under 3 from the effects of television.”

France’s minister for culture and communication, Christine Albanel, issued a “cry of alarm” to parents in June about channels dedicated 24 hours a day to baby-targeted programming. In a newspaper interview, she called them “a danger” and urged parents not to use them to help their children get to sleep.

She was referring to BabyFirstTV and Baby TV, two foreign channels that can be seen in France on cable television.

The council’s ruling aims to prevent the development of such programming on French channels, by preventing them from marketing content as suitable for the under-3 age group.

It also orders French cable operators that air foreign channels with programs for babies to broadcast warning messages to parents. The messages will read: “Watching television can slow the development of children under 3, even when it involves channels aimed specifically at them.”

The ruling cites health experts as saying that interaction with other people is crucial to early child development.

“Television viewing hurts the development of children under 3 years old and poses a certain number of risks, encouraging passivity, slow language acquisition, over-excitedness, troubles with sleep and concentration as well as dependence on screens,” the ruling said.

When BabyFirstTV began airing in the U.S. in 2006, it escalated an already heated national debate. The American Academy of Pediatrics has said babies should be kept away from television altogether. Critics say such channels are used as a baby sitter.

BabyFirstTV and other companies say their products are designed to be watched by babies and parents together in an interactive manner.

Guy Oranim, chief executive officer of BabyFirstTV, said he “respectfully objects” to the French council’s ruling. He said the channel’s content is carefully screened to ensure it is positive and educational, and that the channel encourages parents to make sure their babies don’t go overboard on TV but include it in a balanced schedule.

“One of reasons we created BabyFirstTV is that we thought there was no good programming for babies on TV, and according to the research that is out there, most of the babies are watching TV anyway,” he said.

The three companies behind BabyFirstTV are Regency Enterprises, a film and TV production company that is a partner of News Corp.’s Fox Entertainment; Kardan N.V., an investment group based in the Netherlands and Israel; and Bellco Capital, a private Los Angeles-based investment fund.”

tags: , , , ,

Posted in articles, cultural differences, daily life, education, french laws, kids, news, politics, tv and movies