Category: business / economy

August 20th, 2012 by ptinfrance

barack obama and francois hollande
This is actually not very funny to me but hey, whatever. C’est la vie as they say in my quite possibly soon to be ex-host country. This is not an isolated case. Not only are American businesses in France going to suffer, French small businesses will feel the wrath as well (if they don’t already feel it). If you’re in France or you visited recently, I’m sure you’ve seen many places out-of-business. This is why a lot of people have moved to England. It’s not a new thing; the tax/social charge system in France for entrepreneurs/independent business owners is dysfunctional and always has been; it’s just going to get worse. The state of the economy doesn’t help, either, and we’re not prepared to take on continous and conscientious struggle. It was really fun and good while it lasted (10 years!), so thanks for the good times. If, by chance, something miraculous happens in our favor, we’ll stay. Otherwise, it’s going to be a reluctant au revoir très bientôt. By the way, this website may be up for sale soon so send me offers!

Click here to see more Dialogues.

Posted in business / economy, dialogue, people, politics

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,

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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

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.”

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

September 28th, 2008 by ptinfrance

If you shop at Carrefour, you might have noticed a strange sign they’ve put up near the eggs that first says that eggs stay fresh 25 days after they’ve been packed, then says, “we remove eggs 7 days AFTER the expiration date.” This should be an indication that you should NOT buy eggs from them or at least check the date very carefully. They do this so you cannot return rotten eggs and get your money back.

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Posted in advertising & marketing, business / economy, daily life, food and drinks, health, news, paris, products, shopping, signs, tips, weird

September 1st, 2008 by ptinfrance

new 5 euro coin piece de cinq euros
Effective today, these new silver 5 euro coins will be in distribution all across Europe…as if we didn’t have enough coins! I wish they would get rid of the copper coins, especially the 1 cent ones that are roughly the same size as a grain of sand.

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Posted in business / economy, daily life

August 28th, 2008 by ptinfrance

iphone3g

From electronista:

“French cellphone carrier Orange has admitted to imposing artificial limits on its 3G broadband network, reports say. The confession comes after complaints from a number of iPhone 3G owners, who in testing their download capacity discovered that they were limited to a maximum of 400Kbps, as compared to the 1.8Mbps possible on T-Mobile’s German network.

Most 3G networks are limited to a peak speed of 3.2Mbps, although some may support 7.2Mbps. Some upset Orange subscribers have been able to get their speeds raised by technicians, who have altered individual accounts to push speeds as high as 3Mbps. Customers have further alleged that the cap may be a violation of Orange’s service agreements, and a petition for proper 3G access has been formed online.

An Orange representative contacted by FranceInfo has stated that the cap is actually pegged at 384Kbps, and applies not just to iPhones but all devices on its 3G network. The limit was aimed at “preserving the stability of the network,” according to the representative, but Orange has since decided it will raise download speeds slightly; by September 15th, the cap should be 1Mbps.”

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

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

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

August 14th, 2008 by ptinfrance

Tucked away in Chennai, India (southeast coast of India in the northeast of Tamil Nadu), you’ll find an usual and unexpected establishment: a French baking school. The school was created by 25-year-old Alexis de Duclas, a graduate of Essec, one of France’s top business schools, and 24-year-old certified French baker, Antoine Soive, who had previously worked in one of Alain Ducasse’s Michelin star restaurants.

la boulangerie chennai india employs untouchablesTogether, they work toward helping the “Untouchables” in India,* (also called Dalits) the very bottom, absolute lowest level of the Hindu caste system. Their objective is to train and certify the untouchables in the production of French baked goods and pastries, so they will later be more fairly integrated into society and regularly employed. The inspiration to found the school came after a fateful meeting with Ducla and Father Ceyrac, a Jesuit missionary who had worked with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charities to support children and people in distress in India. Many, many months later, Ducla launched his baking school.

Ducla’s school is the epitome of corporate social responsibility, with social issues being the very core of the business, while still maintaining the ability to literally and figuratively “make dough.” Ducla wanted to prove that humanitarian projects can also be profitable. The school is run by the Charity Education and Rural Development Trust. Classes are also funded by philanthropists from India and France. Ducla’s business manages to make a reasonable amount of profit by selling their products.

Students are chosen based on their “untouchability” therefore they must be from economically weak areas and they must be motivated. That is the criteria for selection to this unique school. Along with cooking lessons, the students are also required to take English, Tamil and Science lessons. The training is rigorous and students are required to wake up at midnight and work through the night. After two years of intensive training they should be ready and equipped to handle anything from a fancy gateau for a five star kitchen, to petit fours for a high end restaurant.
la boulangerie chennai india employs untouchables
A couple of years after the launch of the school, Ducla opened La Boulangerie, a French bakery/ cafe in Anna Nagar West in Chennai operated and maintained by Untouchables (15th Main Road, Anna Nagar West, Chennai 10 Tamil Nadu, India), serving, croissants, cakes, breads and sandwiches.

*Who are the Untouchables in India?

Untouchables in india are branded as impure from the moment of birth. Approximately 1 out of 6 indians (160 million people) live and suffers at the bottom of the Hindu caste system. India’s Untouchables are relegated to the lowest jobs, and live in constant fear of being publicly humiliated, paraded naked, beaten, and raped with impunity by upper-caste Hindus seeking to keep them in their place. Merely walking through an upper-caste neighborhood is a life-threatening offense.

Nearly 90 percent of all the poor Indians and 95 percent of all the illiterate Indians are Dalits/Untouchables, according to figures presented at the International Dalit Conference.

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Posted in bread, business / economy, education, outside of France, pastries, people, products, stories

August 13th, 2008 by ptinfrance

boisset wines with plastic bottlesFrom the Boisset Family Estates press release:

“…….”This year, Boisset Family Estates is the first winery ever to announce that all Beaujolais Nouveau wines imported to North America will be packaged exclusively in lightweight PET plastic bottles,” states Jean-Charles Boisset, President, Boisset Family Estates. “In addition, we will simultaneously debut Fog Mountain, featuring the first organically-farmed California Nouveau in 750ml PET bottles, to highlight our commitment to reducing the wine world’s carbon footprint by producing locally.”

“It is critical in today’s time, with the scarcity of our planet’s resources and the known environmental impacts of human activity, that we consider whether we should still ship thousands of cases of wine in heavy bottles via air throughout the world in order for the wines to arrive on time for their annual release date in November, when we can reduce fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions by more than half through a responsible choice of packaging.”

….Boisset Family Estates owns and imports Mommessin and Bouchard Aîné & Fils – two venerable Burgundy wine houses each with deep historical traditions in Burgundy and Beaujolais….”

This California company, importing wines from France, claims to be innovative and eco-minded.

Read the whole press release

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Posted in advertising & marketing, Bourgogne/Burgundy, business / economy, environment, food and drinks, news, products, weird, wine

August 8th, 2008 by ptinfrance

From time:
wine terrorism in france
“Too much wine, it is known, can cause violent behavior. But few have gone as far as the grape growers of France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region, the world’s biggest wine-growing area by volume. Hurting from overproduction and cheap imports and punished lately by the rising cost of gas, a small group of local winegrowers has resorted to “wine terrorism” in a violent attempt to shock the French government into helping them.

On July 26, police arrested a vineyard farmer from the region for production and possession of illegal explosives. Apprehended in a hospital where he was being treated for injuries suffered when those explosives unexpectedly detonated, 34-year-old Jérôme Soulère confessed to police that he’d been responsible for the July 2006 bombing of a tax-collection office in a neighboring village. He also admitted, police say, to authoring the failed bombing last year of a site the Tour de France was set to pass the following day.
Those incidents are just two of many in a series of violent and destructive acts by local grape growers over the past three years that has targeted public and private buildings, supermarkets, tanker trucks hauling cheap imported wine, and businesses accused of gouging growers with ever shrinking prices. Claiming responsibility: a clandestine group known as….”

Read the full article

Related: Don’t Mess with French Farmers

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Posted in articles, business / economy, food and drinks, Languedoc-Roussillon, news, products, weird, wine