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Saturday, 18 March, 2006

Impressions Of France
(with comments)

This week's country is France.


  1. By Dave. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @08:57am:
    Twenty years ago I saved up as much money as I could and backpacked through Europe. I camped outside Paris and took the train in every day for a week to see the Louvre and other sites. I visited St. Malo and Epernay. But the best time I had was the week I spent in the Dordogne region in the south, with its cave paintings and Moorish ruins. Everywhere I went, people were uniformly friendly and welcoming.
  2. By Jordan. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @09:04am:
    I've was in Paris when I was 13 and again when I was 17. Each time the people were warm and friendly to me. I enjoyed my time there, and would go back in the future.
  3. By meg_mac. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @09:35am:
    They sure go on strike alot in France!
  4. By Daniel. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @09:37am:
    France is damn cool. A bit expensive, and it's said that someone hasn't truely lived until they've been to Paris. And wow, it's true what they say about the food - it's excellent.
  5. By Iain. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @09:39am:
    My family used to go and stay in a gite (basically a rented house in the countryside or a small village) for a fortnight every year, always to a different part of France. It is a very beautiful country, and the food is quite simply beyond comparison. I have since gone back as an adult, and will doubtless do so again. The WWI/WWII monuments scattered throughout the north of the country are also essential viewing.
  6. By Juls. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @09:54am:
    meg_mac,

    They do go on strike alot! a friend and I took the ferry from Calais back to Dover and were delayed for somewhere around 5 hours (thank goodness we had arrived early in the morning or we would have ended up stranded in London with no way home to the West Midlands that night). We were originally supposed to be ferried back by SeaFrance, but they were on strike, only running one boat (normally 17 crossings per day) and were continually delaying. When the ship broke down, we got switched to P&O, the british ferry, and finally ended up in Dover about 2 hours later (about 7-8 hours behind schedule).

    SeaFrance offers a 50% off ticket with EURail pass, so we had strong reasons to patronize them, but next time I'll be doing my homework before we go to Calais instead of the also reduced Dutch ferries. Everyone was understanding, but not forthcoming, and it wasn't the nicest way to spend the end of our trip to continental Europe.
  7. By lorraine. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @10:24am:
    I love France. I am of French extraction and every time, its like going home. However, I can only take Paris for so long...it gets a little too intense for my liking. I've taken the train many times to Bourges, La Rochelle, L'Orient, etc. and had wonderful experiences each and every time. I'm from Montreal and speak french fluently with a kind of "mid-atlantic" accent , however, some of my Quebecois friends have been not been well received (insulted as only the french can insult)because of their accent. I would love to live in Provence if I ever get the chance...The beauty of France touches my soul like no other place I've ever seen.
  8. By mare. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @10:30am:
    I pondered about emigrating to France. But the French in general don't like foreigners very much. Tourists are Okay (they'll leave at some point) but if you want to live there it's very hard not to be a foreigner. They compliment you with your Franch when it's good, but when it becomes really good, 'you make a lot of mistakes'. So I went to Montreal, which is french without the french.
  9. By Ali. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @10:52am:
    J'aime le France. J'étudie le français maintenant, et je voyagerais l'à.
  10. By Jean-Yves. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @11:16am:
    Hello from France (just near Lyon) !

    I read you every day and I really like it. Unfortunatly, I don't dare to comment because of my english.

    I'm so surprised that you think that french people insult the foreigners because of their accent !!! There are a lot of foreigners from different countries in France and I never heard something like that.
  11. By Mean Jean. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @11:20am:
    One of our girls married a Frenchman (Gironde River area, near Bordeaux) and their 4 1/2 yr. old son is tri-lingual. I haven't been to France yet, it's on the list of things to do before I die.

    She brings me goodies twice a year when she goes...pillboxes from the Limoges factory and such.
  12. By Seb. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @11:33am:
    Hello from Nantes! (Little black dot on the left)

    I also surprised that some French person insult other because of their accents (You should hear me speaking English...) I hope it doesn't stop you coming back again; all of us are not like this.

    I'm glad to see that must of you have good memories about our little country.

    Jwalk, keep entertaining us and a warm welcome in advance to each of you that comes visit.
  13. By lorraine. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @11:44am:
    Salut Jean-Yves -
    I have to say I have been surprised myself because my reception has always been so good, but I have heard it so many times over the years, I have to accept it as true. In fact I know many who are quite bitter toward the french because of it. Something to do with le patois Québécois qui n'est pas de tout le francais de France...et comme ca pas francais...voila...cest dommage...
  14. By Dr. Spammy. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @12:02pm:
    The countryside is pock-marked, presumably from where so many army rifles have been dropped.

    I appreciate their not allowing the U.S. to fly in their airspace when we waged "war" in the Middle East.

    And that's the other side of the coin.
  15. By Curtis. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @12:11pm:
    Here's just one small reason the French are to be adored:

    foiegras2wz.jpg
  16. By Curtis. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @12:13pm:
    And let me be the first to call Dr. Spammy an ignorant jingoistic buttwad.
  17. By Curtis. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @12:20pm:
    Here's another.
  18. By Curtis. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @12:27pm:
    And another...

    belleybette8vt.jpg
  19. By Jean-Yves. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @12:39pm:
    Salut Lorraine ! I live just between les Alpes and la Provence. It's beautiful and the weather is very good. We are waiting for you !

    Hello Seb, happy to see that many french are reading this excellent blog.
  20. By lorraine. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @12:53pm:
    Curtis -
    Its amazing - you read my thoughts exactly about Dr. Spammy!
    I would only add :
    putain de salot de merde de chien sale...
    Thank you and merci...
  21. By meg_mac. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @12:59pm:
    when i listen to Edith Piaf i feel like im in a parisian nightclub smoky and intense with a glass of wine in front of me!
  22. By Mean Jean. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @01:25pm:
    Curtis that version of "Beauty and the Beast" is one of my favorite movies. I have a copy and I watch it every few months/years. It's fascinating. I love the ending where it looks like they are levitating up to heaven...the scene was actually shot with them jumping down and is run backwards, of course. The moving arm/sconces, the faces on the mantle...oooo, I need to go watch it again.
  23. By Curtis. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @01:36pm:
    I love it too, Mean Jean. I think the three most perfect films are that one; Wizard of Oz; and Night of the Hunter.
  24. By Curtis. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @01:39pm:
    I like it when the Beast's ears prick up when he senses game on the move and his shame before Beauty at that moment. Cocteau made the film under near-impossible conditions. Thank God for the Criterion Collection!
  25. By PoohPoohBear. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @01:42pm:
    Mean Jean, don't fret your grandson's three tongues. A good surgeon can fix that. :)
  26. By Dr. Spammy. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @01:44pm:
    Curtis and Lorraine,

    I'm sorry. I thought I was entitled to make a casual observation. Was a personal attack really necessary?

    Perhaps if the French would have fought like that in WW I and WW II, they wouldn't have the stigma that they do.
  27. By lorraine. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @01:45pm:
    Mean Jean - if you like french films I would like to recommend 2 of my favorites : "La Belle Verte" - written and starring Coline Serreau
    and "Etre et Avoir" - a moving documentary about the teacher and pupils in one of the last remaining one-room schools in the french countryside. Both films have great messages and are simply beautiful.
  28. By Curtis. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @01:45pm:
    Although I do agree with what Garbo said about the film's ending.
  29. By J-Walk. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @01:46pm:
    Here's what I know about France:

    French fries
    French horn
    French kiss
    French toast
    French dressing
    French poodle
    French bread
    French connection
    French maid
    French braid
    French dip sandwich
    French onion soup
    French doors
    French's mustard
  30. By Curtis. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @01:48pm:
    Troll. Racist. Idiot. Creep. All. Really. Necessary. Freak.
  31. By lorraine. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @01:50pm:
    Dr. Spammy,
    meanness gets what it deserves...and, in the fullness of time, if you look in your own backyard...? Maybe no one should be casting stones...
  32. By Curtis. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @01:56pm:
    I'll cast a stone... I am so sick of the police state fanboys in this country who spout this crap about the French. They're arrogant louts and bullies.
  33. By Geeza. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @01:57pm:
    Paris is the most beautiful place in the world! Something to do with them not putting up much of a fight against the bosch and suffering the damage suffered by other cities. As far as food is concerned, frankly, you can eat better in London nowadays (even if you have to pay through the nose to do so). Of course, the Parisiens are rude buggers at the best of times

    I holiday in the Dordogne every year - it is simply exquisite and the skiing in the alps is top.

    It is true that the French are racist - in the Southern part of the the country it is more a problem with skin colour than being British or whatever.

    All in all, you can see why you never see many French travelling the rest of the world, they have it all at home. Just like the USA?
  34. By Curtis. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @02:05pm:
    It is true that the French are racist

    Geeza -- list please of all the nationalities that are not.
  35. By Geeza. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @02:12pm:
    Of course, Curtis,

    But in the south they can be REALLY vile to 'people of colour'.

    REALLY, REALLY vile.
  36. By Curtis. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @02:21pm:
    I hear you, Geeza.
  37. By meg_mac. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @02:23pm:
    CURTIS... i was glad to see the Wizard of Oz made your list! Recently i bought the remastered dvd for my grandaughter! just watching her watch it had to be one of the best experiences i've had! i read the film review on 'The Night of the Hunter' and will definitely look for it to watch! in the review it mentioned that the menacing figure of the Preacher inspired the Tall Man in Phantasm. i had completely forgotten about that film. it scared the bejeebies out of me in 1979!!
  38. By Dinsdale. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @02:26pm:
    One of my favorite things from France is Calvados. The apple orchards of Normandy have over 800 varieties of apples. The chalky soil concentrates the apple flavor and makes for some great cider.
    The cider is turned into hard cider which is then distilled into
    Calvados. Which means ass kicking good apple brandy in my dictionary.
    There are many different types, the fine Calvados is for cooking, the Pays D'Auge is for enjoying in the brandy glass and the Hors D'Auge which is aged for 8 years lends itself to special occasions.
    114294904_b57eb2f66a.jpg
  39. By Curtis. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @02:37pm:
    Dinsdale -- what's that Calvados house in NYC again? Copied that image so I know what to buy.
  40. By Heinz. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @02:42pm:
    The Roquefort cheese...mmmmmmmmmmm...
  41. By Dave. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @02:45pm:
    Jean-Yves: I was never insulted in France, even though my French was absolutely horrible. I remember one older man spent considerable time showing through his cave-painting museum (essentially his home) with his dog. He didn't speak English and my French clearly was bad. But I've never forgotten his warmth and caring nature.
  42. By Dinsdale. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @02:51pm:
    Brandy Library

    Regarding the brandies in the picture the one in the middle is a fine
    calvados is use for cooking, the one on the right has an Apple in the bottle and its heaven on earth, the one on the far left was a recent find and I was not thrilled with it. The easiest one to find in the US is Busnel and its quite good.
    Best thing though is to go to a place like the Brandy Library where you can sample the very best one glass at a time and get an idea what you like.
  43. By Andie. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @03:08pm:
    Jean-Yves and anyone else for whom English not your native language,
    Comment whenever you feel like it. Your English is great.
    Don't deprive other readers of your thoughts.
  44. By boswell. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @03:19pm:
    Perhaps if the French would have fought like that in WW I and WW II, they wouldn't have the stigma that they do.

    Considering that more than half of the entire French army in WW1 wwere wounded in battle, and that nearly 1.4 million were killed, you might want to examine some of your preconceptions, Dr. Spammy
  45. By Kevin. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @03:57pm:
    J-Walk, I don't know about the other items on your list (well, except for the mustard) but the French horn isn't French, its German.

    Similarly the Cor Anglais (french for English Horn) is neither a horn nor English.
  46. By Curtis. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @04:05pm:
    ...a place like the Brandy Library...

    Is there another place like that? Do you have a link for the Heaven website?
  47. By Dinsdale. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @04:26pm:
    True... Brandy Libraries are few and far between. When you get there
    my first pick would be the 20 year old Pere Magliore. Eh Bien.
  48. By Pancho. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @04:28pm:
    French cuisine... MMMmmmm...

    One of my favorite activities when in Paris is hitting the "budget" restaurants in the Michelin guide. What a treat those are: fun, usually casual and the food is beyond great.

    Then, a few years ago I had the amazing pleasure of eating at Paul Bocuse's in Lyon. The restaurant's ambiance is cosy, with the chef himself walking the tables and greeting his guests. Then the performance starts: each course delivery is like an act in a play. Every dish is a beautiful sculpture. The service is amazing; they must secretly monitor the tables, since as soon as you think of something, you have it. And the taste... words can't describe it. Just perfect.

    As many good restaurants there are in many other countries, this kind of experience is unique and undoubtedly one of France's best gifts.
  49. By Curtis. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @04:38pm:
    Pancho -- Have you read The Perfectionist? It would make a good movie.
  50. By Pancho. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @04:56pm:
    No, I haven't, Curtis, but I had heard of the incident. I wouldn't have thought of Chef-siness as a pressure-cooker career (pardon). But clearly, being the best at anything must be tough on the nerves.
  51. By William Tell. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @06:48pm:
    What about freedom fries and surrender monkeys?

    To be pc: French fries are from Belgium, and Napoleon did not do much surrendering.
  52. By Jean-Yves. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @06:58pm:
    Andie, I will try to do it. Thanks.
  53. By lorraine. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @07:19pm:
    Jean-Yves,
    You are the luckiest! I envy you and wish I could pack up and leave now! All of these - well most of these - entries make me want to just pick up the phone, arrange a ticket, grab my passport and fly til I get there. Until then, say hi to the Alps for me and tell them I miss them...a la prochaine...and please keep writing in...
  54. By major_danny. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @07:44pm:
    Hello to people in France reading this blog! It makes me happy that you're here with us. I have never been there -- I will go someday. I cannot imagine a world without the contributions of France to science, culture, and polical thought. And France is simply the best piece of real estate on the planet--if you want to think that way.

    Curtis, you said clearly what many of us wanted to say. There is a myth pepetrated in recent years that French people are cowardly. Perpetrated by radio talk-show jingoistic louts. (Then again, these people think of jingoism as a virtue, and never served any cause other than their own narrow self pursuits.) Idiotic, of course.

    Please, don't think that we Americans believe that. We don't.
  55. By lorraine. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @08:25pm:
    amen major_danny
  56. By RCC. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @08:52pm:
    She probably is not as talented as Bardot but Time Magazine once named her one of the top ten most influential person of the year: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laetitia_Casta I guess maybe she influenced a lot of people to buy underwear, but thanks France.
  57. By Pat. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @10:34pm:
    I spent a week in l'Ile sur la Sorgue last spring, travelling around to other points in Provence. I really want to go back for an extended time!
    I found the people warm, friendly, and very willing to put up with my anglo/Quebecois accent.
    Pictures at http://travel.kemsleydesign.com/Europe2005
    ...pat.
  58. By meg_mac. Comment posted 18-Mar-2006 @11:09pm:
    PAT... beautiful slides of Provence. WOW!
  59. By Snag. Comment posted 19-Mar-2006 @02:29am:
    Andie and major_danny are not alone.

    Please never let your grasp of English prevent you from commenting. If necessary, comment in your own language. I am sure someone will translate for you.

    Diversity is the internet's great strength. Many of us speak, or have a smattering of, other languages and you have already seen that the regulars here will jerk the intolerant ones into line.

    Jean-Yves .. Your English is much better than my schoolboy French.
  60. By Yazerty. Comment posted 19-Mar-2006 @03:33am:
    Nice to see good comments about my country :).

    Ali > "J'aime le France. J'étudie le français maintenant, et je voyagerais l'à."

    Approximativ correction could be : ---> J'aime LA France. J'étudie actuellement le français, et j'irai voyager là bas.
    But what you said is comprehensible ;-).
  61. By Biff Smith. Comment posted 19-Mar-2006 @07:34am:
    I visited France on my second cruise in the Navy, Cannes to be exact. It stunk, the food was horrible as well as expensive, the weather was cloudy and cold (it was december). Overall, I wouldn't get off the boat if we ever go back, and I don't think we will, we visit England now. I wonder why that is????
  62. By Andrew. Comment posted 19-Mar-2006 @09:25am:
    I'm neither American or French but I do study History -

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Chesapeake
  63. By KeithUK. Comment posted 19-Mar-2006 @11:44am:
    "and I don't think we will, we visit England now. I wonder why that is????"
    I dunno - because we speak English so you can just about make yourself understood? Because we're desperate for your nylon stockings and chocolate?

    France is a wonderful country. Your loss.
  64. By DGr. Comment posted 20-Mar-2006 @01:03am:
    France is a nice country, nice places to see and fairly nice people.

    But, if you really want a great holiday, really great places to see, wonderful friendly welcoming people, excellent food, great wine (imported of course), terrific weather and not least 2000 years of heritage and history come to ENGLAND.
  65. By Snag. Comment posted 20-Mar-2006 @04:37am:
    Several of my relations are buried in the battlefields of France. I appreciate the way the French people respect and maintain their graves. I appreciate that some French villages still celebrate ANZAC day, and I appreciate the French Government awarding their Legion of Honour to our last surviving WW1 vetrans. Merci toujours d'Australie mes amis!
  66. By JC_Planet. Comment posted 20-Mar-2006 @07:42am:
    I've visited France a few times, mainly Paris, and admittedly I did not have positive experiences. There's no sense in elaborating the past, I'm willing to give it a go again. So, I'm taking my son to Paris in less than two weeks, so I'm brushing up on my weak French and studying up on the metro and sites to see. Does anyone have have any recommendations for day trips outside of Paris? We like history. I've been to Versailles before, my experience there wasn't really positive either so I don't want to do it again. Also, we have no interest in visiting Disneyland Paris, that's Amrican right?
  67. By Marc. Comment posted 20-Mar-2006 @01:30pm:
    French fries are not French - they're Belgian!
    The French like to tell stupid jokes that make fun of us Belgians. But they live in a beautiful country. I spend about one month each year in France (it's very close and they happen to speak Belgian tolerably well ;).
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