Category: health

April 12th, 2010 by ptinfrance

hemorrhoids ad in france c'est bete d'avoir mal
If an ad could be cute while being punny even when advertising ointment for hemorrhoids, this is it.

Posted in advertising & marketing, funny, health, products, tips Tagged with: , ,

January 16th, 2010 by ptinfrance

The last year or so in L.A. has proven that food trucks not only have evolved far past their “roach coach” days but also have inadvertently contributed to reducing people’s carbon footprints. These roaming restaurants that come to you, offer anything from gourmet Korean tacos, grass-fed beef hotdogs, cupcakes, Banh Mi, BBQ, sushi, crepes – you name it, you can probably find the meal on wheels you’ve been looking for. I like the idea of the Green Truck running on vegetable oil, using biodegradable containers and serving organic food. The only glitch is that the food is not local, which is understandable in L.A.

France has had food trucks for many years in the form of pizza trucks in the south and French fry trucks in the north, not to mention the awesome cheese trucks, butcher trucks, bakery trucks… oh! and roasted chicken trucks and more. Aside from the pizza and fries trucks, I haven’t seen much innovation in rolling fast food until recently, and this one is pretty cool.
hippo facto france french food truck organic
Taking food trucks to a whole new level and incorporating today’s “green” needs, Christopher Mauduit and Fabrice Vanderschooten launched Hippo Facto last November near the city of Caen, which is located in north west France just about 10 miles inland from the English Channel. What’s not to love about it? Pulled by Percheron draft horses and dedicated to sustainable living and organic, local products, Hippo Facto couldn’t be more brilliant. Respecting the environment and serving fast organic and local fare that’s simple, healthful and creative, you can order fruit/vegetable juices, tartines, soups among other offerings. The containers are also compostable.

You’re right, I can’t imagine a food truck like this in a megalopolis such as Los Angeles. Picture the road rage of people behind the horse and buggy! Hippo Facto seems to work where they are. Of course, it takes them two hours to get to Place de la République in Caen. That’s all good considering there’s no fossil fuels involved, they don’t live in a speedy world and besides, some people commute longer than that in cars every single day. Now THAT’S crazy.

Hippo Facto
Every Wednesday & Friday
Place de la République – Caen France
On Weekends, they’re on the coast:
Bernières-sur-Mer, Lion-sur-Mer and Courseulles
Website: Hippo Facto

Posted in Basse-Normandie, cultural differences, daily life, food and drinks, health, news, restaurants, tips, travel and places, travel tip Tagged with: , , , , , ,

January 20th, 2009 by ptinfrance

When we first moved to France in 2002, I was a big snacker, as many Americans are. It was part of life and when I began searching for French snacks in Nice, it was a huge disappointment. In fact, I remember blogging about how we were able to find potato chips but only “au parfum paprika,” and other so-called different parfums, which in fact all tasted exactly like BBQ potato chips. Not knocking those, but I wanted different things to munch on, some variety in textures and flavors, artificial flavors and ingredients notwithstanding.

In the U.S., we’re used to variety, so much of it, that’s it’s hard to decide what to snack on. Having choices is good. It’s great for someone who must have a full spectrum of junk food, whether it’s good for zee health or not. Wasn’t I relieved to find Roasted Chicken Flavored Chips in France? Anyway. Another thing I’m used to, as an American, is volume. Gimme some tortilla chips, not just individual lunch bag sizes, but JUMBO, heaps of mega amounts of genetically modified corn substances and oils pressed together in the shape of triangles. Throw some in the oven with cheese and add salsa, guac, black beans, jalapenos, sour cream, onions and more cheese and voila: yummy nachos. I can eat an entire pan in one go, whereas in France, this portion would be served to at least 10 people.

On the sweet side of junk, I also needed volume. An example: I was very much a M&Ms with peanuts kind of person. Gobs and gobs and gobs of them, I would munch all day if I could.

During the early years in France, the biggest bag of M&Ms with peanuts held approximately 15.3 M&Ms with peanuts. PFFFF! I was like, “don’t make me laugh, France. I could eat 100 bags of those itty bitty things. Gimme more!” Where was the humungous bag to fill my ginormous American belly???
extra large m&ms
Recently, we saw some XL bags of M&Ms in Auchan. My sweetie noticed them and squealed XL! So, yeah, it was pretty big for French standards considering these didn’t even exist a few years ago. I was mildly impressed, but this French EEKSelle was a mere 500 grams (about 1 pound). Frenchies would probably say, “Ouah. Enorme!”(wow. enormous!) while ogling the outrageousness of its packaging. I say, “PFFF! That’s a Barbie portion.”

Last month while shopping at Costco in L.A., we saw some bags of M&Ms. Each weighed 1587.6 grams (3 pounds and 8 ounces)! Now, THAT’S what I’m talkin’ ’bout! To be honest, even I was shocked at the magnitude of the bag. But! In the back of my mind, I was thinking, “I bet there’s one that’s EVEN bigger!” I’m so American. I’ve probably watched way too many episodes of The Simpsons. (You know what episode, I’m talking about.)
costco m&ms
We bought several. Not for me because these days I don’t eat as much junk (remember junk food is BAD for you!), but rather, for a few of our French friends who we know are ravenous M&M addicts. They were all shocked and happy with their supersized gifts, exactly what we were hoping.

But just afterward, it all made me a little worried. I hoped those M&Ms last a while and aren’t eaten right away…

While I complained about the dinkiness in size of M&Ms bags and other snacks, and the lack of variety in France, I was, at the same time, relieved that I would not have the challenge of resisting eating these as well as other junk in grand quantities. Like many people, I can’t eat just 1, or 10 or even 15. The French were known to be bafflingly skinny for many reasons, but namely because of a lack of junk foods and specifically a lack of large quantities of junk foods, or food in general – with the exception of meat at BBQs.

Sadly, times are changing in France. We found these M&Ms in the store the other day. They were size “Maxi” (whose name would obviously NOT work in the U.S.). The maxi bag is 1000 grams, just over 2 pounds. France, you surprise me sometimes. So, it’s big but there’s still a difference of about 587.6 grams, about 1.2 pounds, to catch up with their American counterpart. But 2.2 pounds is fairly large for previous French standards.
maxi m&ms in france
I know! This is what I was hoping for, but not really.

M&Ms is just one example but there are thousands of products that can also apply here to the obvious conclusion: an increase in product sizes will lead to an increase in consumption, which leads to obesity. This happened in the U.S. which is partly why one third of Americans are obese.

Obesity is rising already in France but I’m afraid it will only increase exponentially with the supersizing of portions and with the imports of industrial foods. In 2002, when we first moved to France 9.4% of the French population was obese. Just four years later, that percentage increased to 12.4%. That’s nearly 8 million obese people in 2006. I don’t know more current stats on obesity in France but I’m fairly positive that it’s more than 12.4%.

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Posted in advertising & marketing, conspiracy theories, cultural differences, daily life, food and drinks, health, products, shopping, signs, weird

November 7th, 2008 by ptinfrance

etam shoes dangerous made in china
From Associated Press:

“The store, Etam, pulled the product off its shelves, cut commercial ties with the supplier and forbade its other suppliers from using the sachets.

They contain dimethylfumarate, meant to fight humidity and mold. But the substance was blamed in a similar case in France, when chairs were withdrawn from sale after buyers complained of rashes.

A statement by Etam said a client developed an allergy after wearing her new boots. A dermatologist she visited blamed the rash on dimethylfumarate. Etam says 1,000 people bought the footwear.

A link between the allergy and the sachets has not been formally established, the statement said. An independent laboratory is conducting tests, with results due later this month, according to the statement.

Etam spokeswoman Florence Troy said one style of boots and a range of high-heeled shoes were withdrawn from 250 stores.

French furniture store Conforama warned clients in July that some of the Chinese-made recliners it sold presented an allergy risk “in rare cases.” It linked the risk to dimethylfumarate and withdrew the chairs.

Conforama also severed ties with the supplier and ordered other suppliers not to use the anti-fungal chemical.

An array of made-in-China products are presenting health risks, the most serious being baby formula made from milk powder tainted with the industrial chemical melamine which has entered the food chain and caused deaths and illnesses.

Contaminated seafood, toothpaste, candy and a pet food ingredient, also tainted with melamine, have all raised health concerns.”

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Posted in daily life, health, news, products, shopping, tips

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

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.”

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Posted in articles, daily life, environment, french laws, games/software/tech, health, nature, 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 21st, 2008 by ptinfrance

colon cancer psa spot france institut national du cancer
The PSAs in France rock, and I really like this one launched by l’Institut national du Cancer that began airing on September 14 (and runs through October 8 on TF1, France2, France 3, Canal+, M6, TMC, TV Breizh, RTL 9, Planète Thalassa, Arte, Vivolta, Paris Première, France 4, LCI, National Geographic, Voyage, and TF6).

In just 30 seconds, the spot called, “le voyage intérieur‘ takes a serious subject, colon cancer, and de-dramatizes it with this funny-faced “cancer cell.” The ultimate goal is to reduce the fear factor, and hopefully get people (ages 50+) to consider getting tested for colon cancer, which is the second cause of death by cancer in France. (Lung cancer is the leading cause of death by cancer in France.) If it is detected early, 9 out of 10 cases are cured.

Click on the image or here to watch the 30 second spot

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Posted in advertising & marketing, daily life, health, news

September 16th, 2008 by ptinfrance

no mobile phones allowed here
Embracing the philosophy that the dangers and risks of cell phones are REAL, our very awesome grocery store, Morvan Bio, is adopting the same policies that healthcare facilities have put in force for years, that is, banning mobile phone use in their establishments. Hospitals in France (and even in the U.S. and elsewhere) do not allow the use of cell phones for obvious reasons.

We only recently noticed this “no cell phones allowed” sign on their door, but I think it’s been enforced since their opening about a year or so ago.

Good for them! I hope other businesses will follow suit.

Morvan Bio
10 bis Avenue Charles de Gaulle
71400 Autun France

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Posted in Bourgogne/Burgundy, daily life, food and drinks, health, 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

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

August 20th, 2008 by ptinfrance

organic raw milk vending machines in france

I wish they had these organic raw milk vending machines in my area, but these are in L’Arbresle situated in the Rhone region, not far from Lyon. The vending machines operate 24/7 and are found in 3 communities nearest a Champion supermarket.

organic raw milk vending machines in france

Bring your own container to be filled or use one that is available at the vending machines. One liter costs 1.10, which I think is a great value. The milk has not been treated in any way and is simply stored at 3°C. 300 liters are stored per day, and the container is thoroughly cleaned and filled every morning. You can also get raw organic milk at the farm directly: Le lait de la ferme.

Le Lait de la ferme
Contact: Gerard Gayet
La Gondoliere
69930 Saint Laurent de Chamousset
Tél : 06 80 42 92 44
Mail :

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Posted in cultural differences, daily life, environment, food and drinks, health, news, products, Rhone, shopping

August 16th, 2008 by ptinfrance

nacho ice cream france
While I’m doing my best to eliminate junk food from my diet, my sweetie, on the other hand, remains true to some “non-foods” that nobody should be consuming. He was eating this so-called ice cream sandwich thing at my parents-in-laws and we joked about the kooky name, “Nacho.” I dunno, but that alone would make me not want to eat it unless it was crunchy, salty, melting with cheesy goodness and bursting with jalapeño peppers. Well, I guess it’s sort of shaped like a taco, which is remotely related. I don’t think there was any actual cream in this “ice cream,” and I’m almost positive it isn’t from France. Was this a bi-lingual dictionary disaster?

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Posted in daily life, food and drinks, funny, health, products, 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

July 25th, 2008 by ptinfrance

baby with iphoneBy now, you’ve probably heard about a correlation between cell phone use and cancer. But geez, you can’t listen to those things because you absolutely love your cell phone. Who doesn’t? You were so freakin’ relieved to find out that those popcorn popping celphones were a hoax. Don’t lie. This love you have for your cute electronic companion has conveniently ousted from your head any negative publicity your mobile beloved has received. You really want to ignore them! Here’s you, “cell phones are dangerous??? NAH….. Don’t be silly! Cancer? Pfff. That is ridiculous. I use mine all the time and I’m fine!”

Do you say that because you don’t WANT it to be true? You can want all you like but just because you don’t want it to be true doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

No one WANTED cigarettes to be the leading cause of death, cancer, heart disease and lung disease (among other things), did they? Many cigarettes smokers said, “they smoked all the time and they were fine!”

No one wanted to believe that the building material called asbestos would kill them. No one wanted to think that anything was wrong with their PVC window frames? Check your hospitals, do they have any PVC? Answer: No. “But the PVC pipes and windows were so cheap,” people say…

Hospitals also don’t allow cell phone use, or wifi for that matter. Do people wonder WHY? I wish they did.

The warnings have been around for a long time but it has been in French news more and more this year. I mean, you can’t let your peeps keep doing harmful things to their bodies, can you France?

French Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin also went on France 2 TV and rehashed the well-worn theory connecting cell phone use with cancer.

In the U.S. neurosurgeons can’t admit that cell phones are dangerous and cause brain cancer, but they WILL admit that they NEVER put a cell phone up to their heads. Ever! What do BRAIN SURGEONS know, anyway!??!

Hang on. Aside from being rant-errific, I do have some useful information that might prompt you to reduce the amount of risk to which you subject yourself.

Both Europe and the U.S. have defined safety limits for exposure to radio frequency (RF) energy produced by mobile devices. The SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) or DAS (débit d’absorption spécifique) in France is a measure or index of the rate at which RF energy is absorbed by the body when exposed to radio-frequency electromagnetic field.

In the United States the FCC requires that phones sold have a SAR level at or below 1.6 watts per kilogram (W/kg) taken over a volume of 1 gram of tissue.

In the European Union, the SAR limit is 2 W/kg, averaged over ten grams of tissue. For whole body exposure there is a limit of 0.08 Watt/kg averaged over the whole body.

What you can do: Find out the index of your mobile phone then act accordingly. If it’s too high, get a different phone that is safer. Here’s a chart with a list of phones and their SARs.

As an example, the new 3G iPhone’s SAR (or indice DAS in French) is 1.388 W/kg. The first generation iPhone was 0.974 W/Kg. Other examples: Motorola Razr2 v9 is 0.52. The Samsung SLM is 0.48. As low as some of the phone’s indices are, neurosurgeons STILL won’t put them up to their heads!

What you can do: Like neurosurgeons, DON’T put the cellphone up to your head. Use speaker phone mode. Note: Bluetooth devices and unshielded wired-earphones amplify the signal. In other words, they radiate more, NOT less.

What you can do: Remember that the industries will ALWAYS deny the existence of any dangers. Not only that, they are responsible for those “counter” studies that come out after researchers warn about the dangers of a product. Scientific studies have been suppressed by the cell phone industry and the government to protect their profits. Do not buy that game.

What you can do: Reduce your cell phone use to a bare minimum. Keep conversations short.

What you can do: Don’t let kids use the phone at all if possible. If they must, not for more than a minute at a time. Ideally, they should never use them or use them only for emergency situations.

What you can do: Turn your cell phone off when it isn’t needed and especially when you are driving your car. When driving with your cell phone on, the waves ricochet inside the car because cars are metallic, creating a Faraday Cage.

What you can do: When possible, keep the cell phone as far away from your body as much as possible.

Links: SAR, Get Little Kids Away from the iPhone and iPod Touch, Cell Phone Dangers Revealed, Patents Prove Cell Phone Dangers from Wired, Hidden Dangers of Cell Phone Radiation, Chemical and Cell Phones, Harmful Effects of Cell Phones, Hazards of the Wireless Age, Reduce Risks, Mobile Phones more dangerous than smoking

france, , , ,

Posted in articles, daily life, french laws, games/software/tech, health, kids, news, politics

July 19th, 2008 by ptinfrance

bic disposable cel phone france
The new iPhone 3Gs were sold out within hours of its availability here in France the other day. Oh well. You waited too long, and didn’t get one? Maybe you can get one of these new, plastic disposable Bic cel phones instead. They’re really ugly, they radiate a lot of un-heathy microwaves and they’re very hazardous to the environment because they end up piling up in the landfills eventually leaching BPAs, dioxins and other carcinogens into the land, air and water. I bet you really want one now.

Bic (yes, the same people who brought you all those hideous plastic florescent lighters and pens that leaked into your backpack and pockets) has teamed up with Orange – to launch the sale of these wonderful mobile phones on August 7. The phone will cost €49 (about $80).


Posted in daily life, environment, games/software/tech, health, news, products, weird

July 18th, 2008 by ptinfrance

nuclear power plants are leaking in france
A so-called NEW uranium leak near Avignon was reported just a week ago, and now there’s yet another nuclear power plant that is leaking. This time it’s at a plant that is actually not very far from the other leaking plant – in Romans-sur-Isere, both managed by the unscrupulous, Areva. The suits are saying AS USUAL, that this leak is not dangerous to humans and can not harm the environment. I’d like to ask, will they drink the water?

Does this remind anyone of various past events assessed by other evil corporations? Remember how the tobacco industry said that there is absolutely no link between smoking and cancer? I saw the excellent French documentary (Tabac, le grand conspiration) on the tobacco industry just the other night on TV showing old cigarette commercials: “Cigarettes are good for you!” “Cigarettes make you feel better!” “More Doctors Smoke Camels Than Any Other Cigarette.” “Cigarettes have absolutely no effect on your health!” Please. How could companies get away with this type of criminal activity? How can they continue to do so even today? Easily.

Also remember, they claimed that ASBESTOS was perfectly SAFE! Tell that to all the millions of people who died from asbesto poisoning or mesothelioma, who are now dying of cancer from it.

There aren’t just two power plants in France that are leaking, and those aren’t new leaks. (France 2 interview with Roland Desbordes explains) Additionally, there are a lot more leaking hazardous materials into the environment and drinking water, and have been doing so for a while now.

With the nuclear power plant companies claiming that “all is well and there’s no need to be concerned about the uranium that has leaked into the environment. This is a MINOR event and humans are totally safe from this! There’s no impact!” – and on the other side with scientists declaring that these leaks are hazardous and certainly NOT safe for humans and the environment. Who would YOU believe?

My point: If you’re traveling in these areas or anything near a nuclear power plant, simply be aware of the risks. Check the CRIIRAD site, which is the Independent Commission For Radioactivity Research and Information. (In French)

Link: nuclear power in france, radiation leak in Normandy, 2nd Nuclear Power Plant Leak in July (in German), ridiculous old smoking ads, 10 bizarre cigarette commericials


Posted in daily life, environment, health, nature, news, Provence, travel and places, travel tip

July 16th, 2008 by ptinfrance

coiffeur et nature paris organic natural hair salonContrary to popular belief, I’m not a guy. I am not sure why people think I am. My name? Do I have a masculine way of writing? Perhaps. No matter. I suppose.

Anyway…As a GIRL, I do girly things like going to the hair salon. I love getting a good coiff every month but I actually haven’t found a solid, consistent, normal salon, a salon I can say is MY preferred place. In the nearly six years I’ve lived in France, I’ve tried many places, way too many, I’m afraid – but I haven’t found a salon I can call my “own.” Maybe I’m a little picky; I didn’t think so but most places feel forced and tense; the people seem like they are trying too hard and insincerity screams through stretched smiles and unnatural niceties; Some offer too much pampering. I don’t need pampering. Most stylists cut my hair precisely in a way that does NOT at all resemble how I asked for it to be cut. I simply need a really good hair cut, a relaxed environment and a salon that uses products that are safe and without any harmful chemicals (like Paraben and Pheoxyethanol). There aren’t any in my part of France so I started going to Paris to try different places. I just went to Coiffure et Nature, which is located near Bastille. It’s a very chill salon with rustic/chic decor. It’s not a fancy schmancy salon, so no one is going to bring you a colorful cocktail on a pillow, but it is cozy and comfortable. Actually, they do offer drinks while you’re waiting but it’s not on a pillow!

Coiffure et Nature also focuses on aromatherapy, natural essential oils, natural methods and organic hair products. Their hair color is ammonia-free and 80% plant extracts. Unlike other salons, you aren’t bombarded with perfumes and chemical smells upon entering the establishment. It’s totally unexpected but a welcomed relief.

I had a great coiff from Virginie, who not only cut it exactly how I asked (yea, that can happen sometimes!), she also really concentrated on the cut instead of trying to “entertain” me, which happens oftentimes at other salons. Phew! We did chit chat part of the time, and that seemed fine and natural.

The prices are very reasonable for Paris. I had a shampooing /shampoo, coupe /cut and brushing / styling, which cost 58 euros. Worth a return trip.

Coiffure et Nature
1, rue de la Bastille
75004 Paris – France
Phone : + 33 1 42 72 90 37
E-mail :
Website: Coiffure et Nature
Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 7pm, Thursday, Noon to 9pm *
M: Bastille : Lines 1 – 5 – 8
Exit rue St-Antoine / boulevard Beaumarchais

* NOTE: ALL hair salons in France are closed on Mondays.


Posted in daily life, health, paris, reviews, travel and places, travel tip

June 1st, 2008 by ptinfrance

fete du lait bio organic milk festival
This organic milk festival is today in Bretagne (Brittany). Sorry about the late notice.

Learn more about organic products and how their production respects the environment (non-GMO, no pesticides or chemicals) and animal well-being, via this festival that every department in Brittany is celebrating with concerts, theater plays, debates and more. This isn’t just the organic dairy industry. You’ll also find bakers, farmers and animals – and their products as well. Visit a number of participating farms to experience what “real food” raising and making (and eating!) are.

You can have an organic breakfast and meet the people who bring quality products to the public.

*Note: You must have a reservation.

La Fête du Lait Bio 2008 – Organic Milk Festival
June 1, 2008
Contacts by Department: Cotes D’Armor – Jean-Sebastien Piel; Finistere – Alex Lannuzel; Ille et Vilaine – Nadege Lucas; Morbihan – Celine Rolland
Admission: 5 €, 4€ Students and Unemployed, 3€ Under 12
Website: Fete du Lait Bio

Posted in Bretagne/Brittany, daily life, education, events, health, kids, nature, news

May 17th, 2008 by ptinfrance

Yea, what else is new. I know. Anyway, when Calimero left a comment on the GMO (genetically modified organisms) post, I wasn’t sure what he was referring to until I watched a short clip from the (week) daily 5 minutes segment of the day’s highlights called, “Zapping” on Canal Plus. Watch it here (Select “ZAPPING DU 15/05/08″).

Nathalie Kosciusko-MorizetI’m enormously disgusted by these French politicians on the subject of allowing genetically modified foods into the French food chain. With Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, who happens to be a Minister of Ecology, She’s pro-GMO! She is working on PASSING laws to allow GMO crops. However, when asked what she feeds her son, she says he only eats organic food!!! “It’s a personal choice,” she says. WTF.francois vannison

With Francois Vannison, a member of the UMP, he says he is not against GMO but does realize it can pose a risk of contaminating non-GMO agriculture and organic agriculture. OH-KAY.

More stupid politicians BOUGHT and OWNED by the evil Monsanto.

The best part of this particular “zapping” is the animal with big eyes.

Posted in daily life, environment, food and drinks, health, news, people, politics, weird

May 16th, 2008 by ptinfrance

veggie pride paris france may 17 2008
Celebrate tomorrow by showing how proud you are of your vegetarian or vegan self! – and fight against cruelty to animals.

In a nutshell, it is a festival of vegetarian and vegan pride and participants aim to do the following: 1) demonstrate against the inhumane treatment of animals; 2) show pride of vegetarianism and veganism; 3) denounce vegephobia; 4) defending their rights to express their opinions; 5) to act in behalf of animals – that do not have rights.

More information

La Veggie Pride 2008
May 17, 2008
2pm – Meet at Place Joachim du Bellay (Forum des Halles – Fontaine des Innocents) in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. Métro Châtelet ou les Halles, R.E.R. Châtelet-les-Halles.
Telephone: 01 45 59 04 35 (Nathalie)

Posted in cultural differences, daily life, events, food and drinks, health, news, paris, people

May 9th, 2008 by ptinfrance

From the guardian:

“Authorities in southern France fear a possible mosquito invasion in tourist resorts this summer and blame EU regulations which prevent them from using the most efficient insecticide.

The area affected runs from the Camargue down to the Spanish border. Agents from the EID, the Entente interdépartementale de démoustication which clears thousands of hectares of marshland each year, say the new rules are forcing them to carry out this year’s operation in record time, and with no guarantee of success, following recent rain.

For the first time since the early 1960s they cannot use temephos – a pesticide now banned by the European Union. Instead the EID says it is obliged to turn to a bacterium considered to be more environment-friendly, but which experts argue leaves little margin for error….”

Read more

Posted in articles, Cote d'azur/Riviera, daily life, health, news, travel and places

May 7th, 2008 by ptinfrance

From the guardian:

“Britain’s assault on French cookery has been stepped up by a Yorkshire bakery which has started exporting lorry-loads of baguettes across the Channel.
Fosters of Barnsley has used a legal loophole to beat local boulangers to a contract supplying the narrow loaves to the whole of the French railway system.

The order follows a double whammy for North of England butchers who stole Grand Prix d’Excellence awards earlier this year at Europe’s biggest black pudding contest in France. The Real Lancashire Pudding company went on to take two gold medals in the usually French and Belgian-dominated tasting organised by the Compagnons de la Gastronomie Porcine.

The baguette triumph, which has earned Fosters managing director, John Foster, the French media title of “most hated man in France”, is down to the firm’s expertise in making long-life loaves.
French local law forbids the use of fat which is key to the long-life process, Foster said yesterday, but competitors from elsewhere in the European Union can sidestep the ban, under European legislation. Building on the “rolling stock” order, the Barnsley bakery is now challenging the brioche market in France, using the same method.

“Their own bakers could give them a good product, but it didn’t fit the railway’s needs,” said Foster. “In Yorkshire we’ve a tradition of giving customers what they want. They asked for baguettes which don’t go stale and we said yes, we can do you them. We’re shipping the stuff out by the wagon-load.”

Foster said he had been surprised by the “cheek” of the mismatch between French and EU law but recognised a good sales opportunity.”

Posted in articles, daily life, food and drinks, health, news, outside of France, weird

April 30th, 2008 by ptinfrance

antique doorknob
We went out to lunch the other day to an excellent brasserie in Autun (Burgundy), which I’ll try to write about some time later this week, hopefully. The restaurant was pretty packed and for some reason, “the suits” were sitting on one side of the restaurant, everyone else scrunched over on the other side. Anyway, my adorable and funny sweetie suddenly bursts out, “That lady is TOTALLY American!!” (talking about a woman just exiting the restroom across the restaurant)

Me: “Why? How do you know?”

Him: “Because she has a kleenex over the doorknob because she doesn’t want to touch it directly……you know, like you.”

Me: “That doesn’t mean she’s American. That means she’s psychotically germophobic …like me. Hey, don’t generalize. Wait! They always do tests on doorknobs and they find POO on them! You don’t want to touch that in a restaurant, do you, then eat dinner?”

Him: “Ok, yeah, but you even wrote about American Germophobia, remember? Anyway, it’s an American thing. You can’t convince me otherwise.”

Me: “Oh yeah. I did write about that. Nevermind that, though.”

Me: “Omg. I just heard them talking and yes, that lady IS American.”

Him: “SEEE!?”

Posted in cultural differences, daily life, health, travel and places

April 4th, 2008 by ptinfrance

From AFP:

“Orly Airport, one of the two big airports serving Paris, is to extract geothermal energy from deep underground to slash its heating bills, the facility’s owners said.

Two shafts each 1,700 metres (one mile) deep will be drilled on the airport’s perimeter to access a water table warmed by heat emanating from the Earth’s hot core.

Drawn upwards by natural pressure, the water will emerge at the surface at 74 degrees Celsius (165 degrees Fahrenheit) and then be injected into the airport’s heating system. It will then be pumped back into the ground at a temperature of 45 C (113 F).

“We have the unprecedented luck of having hot water below our feet that can heat a large part of Orly without CO2 [carbon dioxide] emissions. We are the first airport in Europe to do this,” Pierre Graff, who is chairman and managing director of Aeroports de Paris (ADP), said on Wednesday.

The project, launched after a technical and financial feasibility study, will cost 11 million euros (17.27 million dollars). The Orly-Ouest terminal, part of Orly-South, the airport’s Hilton Hotel, and two business districts will be hooked up to the system from 2011.

ADP hopes geothermal will meet a third of its heating needs and coincidentally save 7,000 tonnes of its 20,000 tonnes of its annual emissions of CO2, the principal greenhouse gas.

The neighbouring towns of Orly, located south of Paris, and l’Hay-les-Roses, already use geothermal.”

Posted in environment, health, nature, news, paris

March 25th, 2008 by ptinfrance

contaminated meat in france
I HATE when they do that. Supermarket giants, Carrefour and Monoprix (110 stores in total) have announced a 2.5 ton recall of E-coli contaminated meat.

The thing is, they always wait until most of the meat has already been consumed (unless it was frozen by consumers). In any case, they really are evil.

If you bought packaged ground beef at Carrefour or Monoprix last week, please return the contaminated meat to the store (see store list below).


Meat: steaks hachés / ground beef
Dates issued: between March 10 and March 18
Originating company: Socopa
List of stores selling the contaminated meat: Click here
Hotline: 0.800.773.800

An added important NOTE: Though the store, ED, is not listed, please be aware that it is owned by Carrefour, so the likelihood of contaminated meat at ED, is very high.

[source: france 2, le monde]

Posted in daily life, health, news, products, shopping

March 18th, 2008 by ptinfrance

From AP:

“Nantes — About 3,000 barrels of fuel oil leaked in and along the Loire River after a pipe ruptured while a tanker was being loaded at a Total refinery, the company said Monday.

Rescue teams used floating dams and Total mobilized a 200-person cleanup team to cope with the 400-ton spill at the Donges refinery in western France that began late Sunday, the company said in a statement.

Local officials said chunks of solidified oil were spotted on Atlantic Ocean estuary beaches, and fuel was seen floating along 12 miles of river Monday evening.

Total spokesman Burkhard Reuss said the cause of the rupture was not immediately clear. The company was trying to determine how long it took for the leakage of oil to be stopped, he said.

The Donges refinery produces about 230,000 barrels per day, he said.”

Posted in Bretagne/Brittany, daily life, environment, health, Loire Atlantique, nature, news

March 17th, 2008 by ptinfrance

full spectrum light bulbs franceGrowing up in SoCal meant living a life where I rarely experienced gray weather days. Southern Californians don’t realize how LUCKY they are, in terms of getting lots of bright light. They take it for granted.

If you ever leave, like I did, you soon discover that living in a place with LOTS of gray days – does something weird to you. The lack of real sunshine over an extended period of time makes me feel BLAH. I don’t get depressed and certainly not a full on seasonal affective disorder (SAD) like many people get, but I do feel lethargic and feel like I’m lacking in some nutrition! (probably vitamin D)

You don’t have to worry about that crappy feeling, I’ve found, if you have full spectrum lightbulbs installed in your home, and luckily they exist here in France. They’re called, Les ampoules à spectre complet, and they closely mimick the sun’s natural light. They’re safe, and energy-efficient and some are also ampoules ionisantes, which are full spectrum bulbs that also purify the air and even eliminate odors from rooms. (I have some of these and they really work.)

They take just a little while to get used to, but you’ll realize that your eyes don’t tire as quickly and you can actually see better. It’s a strange, but pleasant sensation, and you’ll never go back to traditional bulbs or halogen lights ever again. Your electricity bills will go way down and your plants will love the bulb, too.

These bulbs are excellent for artists, too, because with them, they will see a truer color on whatever they are working on.

A Note: Full spectrum energy saving bulbs are not to be confused with regular energy-saving bulbs out there that are not necessarily full-spectrum. Some of these latter bulbs (the cheap ones, usually) are not very safe (because the glass is not protected), and contain mercury (which is hazardous in the home especially if they break, and later become an environmental nightmare).

Last Note: You might find cheaper full-spectrum bulbs elsewhere but please make sure the glass has the necessary protective coating against harmful rays. The bulbs from Espace Ampoules are coated and tested to be safe.

If you’re interested and live in France, here’s where I order my bulbs online:

Espace Ampoules
71550 Cussy en Morvan
Telephone :

Website: Espace Ampoules (in English and French)

Posted in daily life, health, nature, news, shopping, websites

March 11th, 2008 by ptinfrance

french documentary about monsanto
The French documentary, “Le Monde Selon Monsanto / The world according to Monsanto,” directed by independent filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin, airs tonight on ARTE.

The film paints a grim picture of a no-holds-barred evil corporation with a decades-long track record of environmental crimes, health scandals and endangering the population of the entire world.

It will open your eyes to many things and you’ll never look at food the same way again.

Read about it at ARTE (in French) More about it here (in English)

See the movie trailer here

Posted in daily life, environment, garden, health, kids, nature, politics, products, stories, tv and movies

March 5th, 2008 by ptinfrance

massage in provence france
Maybe, just maybe once during your trips to France, you will venture out of “the comfort zone” of your little Paris. Yes! There’s a whole ‘nother world outside of Paris that might amaze you even more than looking at the teeny tiny, glass-enveloped, security guarded, popularity queen, The Mona Lisa, which could quite possibly be a replica (Ok, the latter is just my own conspiracy theory).

A little detour to Provence (south of France) will literally be a welcome breath of fresh air once you exit the cities. We’ve been in Provence, of course at our favorite Après La Sieste, the best place to stay in Provence, in our humble opinions. In addition to being the most beautiful and relaxing B&B ever, they have a heated salinated pool, (which is like being in a comfortable hotspring more so than like being in a chlorinated pond), and an in-house chef for a memorable gastronomic meal that goes perfectly with local wines from the famous Chateauneuf du pape.

After exploring the region’s lavender fields, the surrounding “most beautiful villages in France,” the seaside Camargue and Callanques, the wine cellars and vineyards for tasting award-winning wines and more, you may, after all the day’s activities, feel pretty beat albeit happy. Lucky you because if you stay with Jacques and Chloe at Apres la Sieste, you can get a heavenly massage, a perfect Provençale denouement.

Apres la Sieste’s newest addition is an in-house masseuse, who will erase your little aches and pains and simply make you feel wonderful. You might not ever want to leave.

Apres la Sieste opens officially for the season on March 21.

Après La Sieste
2 suites, 3 rooms; breakfast included
Contact: Jacques et Chloé (English and French spoken)
Website: Après La Sieste
(Visit their site for more room photos, massage and chef meals details and rates)
Telephone : +33 4 66 50 33 94
Mobile Phone: +33 6 61 84 58 40

Posted in health, news, Provence, Recommended Accommodations, travel and places, wine