Dutch and Scottisch have a reputation of being misers. The french however have their misers too. On Les Radins (the misers) they give each other 3431 ways for a cheaper living. For the latest news on not spending money, subscribe to their free newsletter.
Now all our misers have to do, is to learn french. Wonder what that would cost...
Posted by Peter at 07:55 AM [5 reactions]
Adventure: underground in Paris
Under the ground of Paris, there is a second Paris. There are the underground, the Sewery Museum and catacombs, a charnel-house in passages of ancient quarrys.
But Paris below the streets is much more than just the parts the tourist office wants you to visit. Huge parts are formally forbidden territory, if only for the danger. But if you forbid something, some people like to do it even more. However, there are indeed risks. This 'speleologist nearly didn't reach the world above. The picture was snatched from this page by Godefroy Troude, who makes very clear from own experience you have to be an athlete to visit the illegal quarry passages.
Posted by Peter at 07:52 AM [2 reactions]
Drive your cadillac to ...
It's such a tiny town you will pass by without noticing. Sure, the Romans left beautiful mosaics. It's a walled town, with towers at the ports, sure. Don't forget the mighty palace of the dukes of Epernon. And wait, in the cliffs there are fossiles of oisters.
Boring, isn't it? France is loaded with these villages. However, certain people may not miss this town at the Garonne river, not far from Bordeaux. If you're one of the privileged that drive a cadillac, you certainly must take a break at ... Cadillac.
Posted by Peter at 07:39 AM [What do you think?]
Some camping people are more welcome then others...
Who used to stroll around in France with a tent, knows the signs: "interdites aux nomades", "forbidden for gipsies". I stayed on a camping with nomads once, and I do have a bit of understanding for these signs.
However, the mair of Ensisheim took very strong measures to get rid of gipsies. He has confesses he gave orders to set fire in a gipsy-camp. His staff did have orders to check there was nobody in the camp at the moment. The Nouvel Observateur announces the mair has to appaer in criminal court on march 13th.
For those who are welcome in Ensisheim, the old city has a beautiful Palais de la Régence, which was left by the habsburg family. In it is a meteorite that reached earth in 1492. It is said there are no meteorites left that landed on earth before.
Posted by Peter at 07:31 AM [What do you think?]
Go to Paris for its cows...
Paris isn't exactly the first place to see cows. However, no less then 150 cows will cheer up historical places in Paris from april 10th till june 16th. They're made by artists on the occasion of the Vach'Art (Cow Art) event.
Why cows? well, basically because they're friendly, usefull animals with high nutritional value.
By the way, Vach'Art makes clear Paris isn't exactly a front line city. The same thing was done in New York, Sydney, Tokyo and Barcelone before
Posted by Peter at 07:52 AM [3 reactions]
Competing with the bridge of Millau
Right or wrong: the shortest way is not always the best way. Motorway company ASF wants you to answer.
The right answer is right. Of course, because the company wants to persuade you to take it's motorways to go from Paris to the mediterranean and Spain. Since the bridge of Millau opened, the A75 is a good opportunity for those hidding south. However, ASF earns more if you drive over Toulouse, taking the A10 and A20 (among others).
Now, this way is 10 kilometers longer, but according to ASF it's seven minutes faster. Toll is a few dimes more expensive, but you will save that by using less fuel on this road, that doesn't have as many hills.
ASF doesn't mention missing the imposing bridge. You were heading for the Roussillon beaches or for Spain, weren't you? So, don't complain!
Posted by Peter at 07:49 AM [1 reaction]
Ninety years ago: the battle of Verdun
The french, who still call World War One The big War, commemorate the Battle of Verdun. Next tuesday 90 years ago, the first canon shot fell in the Woods of the Caures. The battle would kill thousands and thousands of soldiers. Lots of bones of them can be found in the ossuary of Douaumont.
French school television already gives an extended impression the Infernal of Verdun. Tuesday, old texts will be read in the woods of the Caures and there's a concert in the cathedral of Verdun. Untill ocober 24th there are lots of commemorative activites, among which theatre productions and exhibitions.
Posted by Peter at 07:26 AM [1 reaction]
Librarian: a dusty job
Some people consider librarian to be a to dusty job. They're right, as far as the National French Library is concerned. Journal Lib@##:ration reports no less then 700.000 books may not me opened, nor moved, until they're cleaned from asbestos dust.
When building the library, a prestige object by former president Mitterrand, no asbestos was used at all. These books however were stored in a warehouse elsewhere. The library staff neglected warnings about the asbestos.
Now 700.000 books, that's 21 kilometers of book shelves. Visitors of the library will have to do with the other 12.3 million books.
Posted by Peter at 07:46 AM [1 reaction]
A garden with just one species...
Ten years ago it was a negelected waste. A new owner, who listened carefully to gardeners made it one of Europes most appreciated gardens: the hanging gardens of Marqueyssac.
In fact, that's a bit strange because 22 hectares are merely occupied with just one species: boxwood. If you care to count: you will find 150.000 pieces. However, even the reviewer of French Gardening, a self declared fan of lots of flowers, admits these gardens are certainly worth a visit. As he states: ,,While pruned boxwood is usually synonymous with rigid, symmetric, geometric forms, those of Marqueyssac are sculpted into organic, abstract undulating forms that suggest gentleness, suppleness, and unity with the landscape.''
If the boxwood becomes to much, you may still enjoy the fantastic view over the Dordogne river, which offers no less then three castles.
Just one question: why are these gardens called 'hanging gardens'? All boxwood really seems to be where it should be: down to earth.
Posted by Peter at 07:34 AM [What do you think?]
A bone of Jeanne d'Arc
Forensic researchers in a suburb of Paris have started dna-research on a bone. Now that wouldn't be special if the bone isn't supposed to be a bone of Jeanne d'Arc. According to Le Figaro previous research already showed evidence the bone indeed dates from 1431, the year Jeanne died.
After she died, a bishop ordered her bones to be put in the Seine, but in reality chemists took possession of some bones and took care of it until the 17th century, when the bishop of Tours took over the bones.
The 18 researchers claim their job has nothing to do with fun, but will give them more experience.
Posted by Peter at 07:42 AM [5 reactions]
Bones and drawings found, possibly 30.000 years old
In a recently discovered cave, speleologists have found bones and engravings possibly 30.000 years old. That's more then twice the age of the paintings in the famous cave of Lascaux.
It's not the first time such old things are found. Six years ago it happened in Cussac, a tiny village in the Dordogne area, halfway between Périgueux and Sarlat. Special thing about the new foundings in Vilhonneur (Charente) nortyh of Périgueux is, according to the Nouvel Observateur, that this cave may have been a sanctuary of Crow-Magnon people. There are only two of these kind known in Europe.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Culture does it's utter best to keep enthousiasm down. For the time being the cave of Vilhonneur will not be opened to the public.
Posted by Peter at 07:59 AM [5 reactions]
Bison Futé warns for black saturday
The French traffic information service Bison Futé warns for a black saturday, next saturday in the Rhone Valley en the main roads to the ski resorts. Not only many French, Dutch and Germans too start having their winter holidays. If possible, try to travel on friday.
Anyway, Bison Futé knows how to comfort people. About the situation on the A31 (Metz-Nancy-Langres) it says: ,,Traffic will be slow and uncomfortable, but will not stop completely.''
Posted by Peter at 07:46 AM [What do you think?]
Yet another group of Da Vinci tourists
The popular novel The Da Vinci Code attracted an entirely new group of tourists to Paris. Readers were so enthousiastic, they wanted to see with there own eyes the places where the story happens, starting of course in The Louvre, where someone is brutally killed.
A second wave of tourists wil arrive, starting may 19th. That's the day of the premiere of themovie The Da Vinci Code. This movie, starring Oscar winner Tom Hanks, will be used for several commercial goals. For example Eurostar, the high speed train between London and Paris, will promote the movie. Now that was to be expected, since most of the events happen in these two cities. There is a second reason that links the train to the story: The da Vinci Code is on top of all the items at Eurostars lost- and found department.
Posted by Peter at 07:48 AM [What do you think?]
Relax: just walk into a church...
One thing I like to do during summer holidays in southern France, is walking into a church. I am not a very religious man, but even nonbelievers will find three things: coolness, silence and beauty.
A pearl among these buildings is the impressive cathedral of Sint Cecilia in Albi on Tarn. Imposing was just what the church should be according to the builders, when they started their work at the end of the 13th century. The cathars weren't defeated yet. The cathedral would not only be a church, but a fortress too.
Inside, there's an enormous wall painting of the Last Judgement, supposed to be made by Flemish painters. With 18 by 15 metres, the painting is even bigger then the impressive organ.
For those who like organ music, during summer there are free concerts on Wednesday and Sunday.
Posted by Peter at 07:45 AM [What do you think?]
Tired of traffic jams? Step into a space ship
Tired of traffic jams? Take a space ship! That's not yet a real alternative, but to get the feeling you may step into a real space ship yourself at he the Cité de l'Espace in the southern city of Toulouse, the heart of the French national aerospace and aviation industry. To bad is just an old Russian Soyuz... But hey, you may admire the outside of the French Aria missile too.
There's a planetarium too. This year, they also have an exhibition about the possibility humans are not the only living beings strolling through space. It's even converted in a story for children from 4 years up.
Posted by Peter at 07:54 AM [35 reactions]
After cameras for speeding the red light camera
The French police is really in the mood for cameras. They cashed 205 million euro on pines last year for speeding. Now, they want cameras to at traffic lights, to catch red light offenders. Not for the money, of course, but for the sake of safety. The annual number of mortal victims in French traffic has already gone down from 17.000 to 5.000. According to Le Monde, the French government thinks it's possible to reduce the amount of victims to 4.000 or even 3.500.
Posted by Peter at 07:44 AM [What do you think?]
The bishops of Condom...
If they lived according to their titles, they had a lot more fun then you would think by their functyion: the bishops of Condom. From the fourteenth till the aightteenth century the city halfway Toulouse and Bordaux was really the heart of a diocese. It still has a cathedral.
The city has a second church, Pradau, that serves as a museum for atttributes of priestly dignity.
If you want to know more about condoms, Condom is the place to be during summer. In summertime, the Preservative Museum is opened at the Rue du SÃ©nÃ©chal.
By the way, the name of the city seems to have nothing to do with the preservative, that was propagated by Casanova and the marquis De Sade. However, nor the municipality of Condom, nor the tourist office makes any effort to explain where the name does come from. They prefer to point at the Armagnac museum, where the distillation of this regional liquor is explained.
Posted by Peter at 08:00 AM [What do you think?]
False convictions in child abuse case: a judge treated as suspect
The Outreau scandal continues to shock the French. Secveral people were abusively convicted for sexual child abuse.
The judge of instruction Burgaud, who according to some newspapers now is a suspect, has to appear today for a parlementary research commission. In an interview with L'Express this young judge claimed he had no alternatives for his actions. Apart from that, just like other judges he suffered from work overload.
The Burgaud hearings can be seen around the world on the the web sites of France 2 and France 3. The hearings start at 15.45 hours Paris local time.
Posted by Peter at 07:57 AM [What do you think?]
In love with French motorways
There are lots of sites about traffic in France. One of them is special: Saratlas, a site made by people who are in love with French motorways. Nearly everything there is to know about French roads is included in it's huge database. Even better, it's there in English, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch too. Just in case the database hasn't an answer, there's a forum.
Just one thing. Those who want to stay in love with French roads should look somewhere else, too, for example at Autoroutes du Sud de la France. They have a traffic calendar. Pick the day you want to drive through France and it tells you how the traffic jams will develop during the day.
Posted by Peter at 07:49 AM [What do you think?]
Hiker killed under cliffs of Marseille
A hiker was killed yesterday in a cave in the famous Calanques (cliffs) of Marseille. The cliff above the 60 year old man collapsed. according to L'Express, the spot, carrying the name The Fallen Stones, was not forbidden to the public. However, there are signs indicating the danger.
Posted by Peter at 07:41 AM [What do you think?]
Travel clips, a good idea
Finally, a relatively new idea that makes sense. It should be fun too: Travelclips.net, a travel site based on videoclips.
So, we quickly went to see what it had to offer about France. That's disappointing. We will not complain about lack of videos. That's normal for a new site. But about the only good thing about the clips is that they're fast. It's pictures and boring music only, no explanation at all. Surprise: in the clip about Paris you see the Eiffel Tower! The clip about the perfume city of Grasse (Provence) shows a lot of perfume making. But you still don't there's a perfume museum to visit.
Just look at the bright side of life: you may send them your own clips.
Posted by Peter at 08:02 AM [4 reactions]
Oops, the French have grown fatter
Oops. The French confession industry hadn'nt measured its customers in 35 years. Now they did it again, on the occasion of the Prêt à Porter fair in Paris. L'Express reports the average French woman has gained nearly an inch on her waist. Now that doesn't seem very much. Her husband however even gained two inches.
Who wants to see the new fashion, should go to Paris soon. Prêt à Porter is opened untill sunday.
Posted by Peter at 07:56 AM [What do you think?]
The heirs of Salvador Dali proudly present...
Bored to dead by a painted landscape or a sunset above the see. Starting Saturday, in the spa village of Le Mont Doré (Auvergne)you'll find an exposition by a special group of artists. The names probably won't ring a bell. However, these 13 gentlemen have twon things in common. First, they condider themselves the heirs of the surrealist painter Salvador Dali. Second: they want two know who's the best. Judge for yourself on the exhibition between February 4th and March 3rd.
If you want to see work by the master him self, you're welcome again in the Dali Espace Montmartre in Paris. It was closed for renovation, but re-opened last monday
Posted by Peter at 07:53 AM [What do you think?]
An order is no longer an order in the French army
Suppose the unlikely case you run into a bunch of French soldiers at the Cote d'Azur. A sergeant orders his men to kill you. No panic, they will not shoot.
The french newspaper Ouest-France reveals that an order is no longer an order in the French army. Soldiers are now under strich orders not to fullfill any demand that is considered unthical or in conflict with international law. Should this happen, the soldier must contact the minister ofdefense inmediately.
The new rule is issued after French troops killed an innocent man in Ivory Coast in may last year.
Posted by Peter at 08:08 AM [What do you think?]