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Friday, 10th January 2020

Bonne Année !!

The year is only ten days old and I have just received an email from my bank alerting me of a potential scam for 2020.

When writing the date many people in France and I am sure in the UK just use two numbers for the year. Yep, I do that, so for today I would write 10/01/20. 

My bank has just warned me that unscrupulous companies or individuals could easily alter the date to future date document or contract 10/01/20 could easily become 10/01/2006. 

I must be so naive, I had even thought about that!.   Hence, the advice is to write the date in full.

Wednesday 16th October 2019

Nutella Unites France

If there is anything that French families all put in their shopping trolley, it is Nutella. 

Nutella was created by an Italian baker, Pietro Ferrero, during World War II when he came up with the spread because of a shortage of cocoa, so he supplemented the cocoa with hazelnuts and sugar. By 1964 it had gone through its second iteration and began to gain widespread appeal and now sells 365 million kilograms in over 160 countries. However, it is in France that the Ferrero family business sells the most—it is reported that France eats a quarter of all Nutella pots produced, often at the 4 p.m. “gouter,” which is a sweet snack to tide people over to dinner.

The French are very passionate about Nutella.
In January 2018, there were riots in French supermarket, Intermarché, when it reduced the price of Nutella by over 70%, meaning a 950g pot that normally costs €4,50 was only €1,41. Many people were hurt in the scuffles which took place around the country.

In January 2015, a French court ruled that a family could not legally name their daughter Nutella, after the brand. Since 1993, parents have been free to choose their baby’s name unless it is thought to not be in the best interests of the child. Her name was later changed to Ella.

Since May 27, 160 workers–of a 400-strong workforce–at the Nutella factory in northern France have been on strike demanding a pay increase of 4.5% and a bonus of €900. Management are trying to negotiate just a 0.4% raise, which has not gone down well and strikers are blockading lorries in and out of the plant. Since June 3, striking workers have been subjected to severe fines but so far the strike is still ongoing. It means that of the four production lines, only one is working and only at one-fifth capacity. This is very very bad news for the Nutella consuming French population.






Monday, 7th October 2019

Brittany to start using radar cars

Just a little warning for those travelling to Brittany this autumn

A total of 60 vehicles will be deployed in Brittany, Centre-Val de Loire and Pays de la Loire in the new year after the government deemed a year-long trial in Normandy a success.

Cars, which are operated by private companies, became operational in Normandy in April 2018. They recorded more than 12,000 speed violations in a year.

Plans for the vehicles were unveiled in February 2017. At the time, it was said they were intended to free up police and gendarmes. Drivers’ groups say that the extra fines revenue could be worth €2.2billion.

The private unmarked speed cars operate a least six hours a day, compared to the average of 1hr 15mins for police-driven vehicles. Officials deny motorists' associations claims that the increase in hours is intended solely to drive up revenue for the State.

Authorities have previously said that the speed control unit, camera and software in the privatised vehicles is automated and the driver will not be able to affect its operation. Nor are companies paid by the number of tickets that are issued.

radar car




Friday, 27th September 2019

Mooing of cows to be a French national heritage treasure

The mayor of a French village has called for the noises of the countryside to be declared a national heritage treasure in a bid to prevent farmers from being taken to court over the cockerel’s crow, the mooing of cows or the chiming of bells.

Bruno Dionis du Séjour, mayor of Gajac, population 387, in southwestern France, said he had been spurred into action after a string of complaints from “selfish” neo-rurals over the noise of rural life.

In an open letter to French MPs, Mr du Séjour said that such noises were part of “the rhythm of the countryside and things that make it what it is, which are as dear as they are simple”.

“Let the crowing of the cockerel, the familiar bark of the dog, the church bell, the mooing of cows, the braying of the donkey and the chirruping of birds be inscribed into national heritage,” he wrote.

The mayor said he had been shocked by “the selfishness of new fellow citizens, most of the time of urban origin, who discover the countryside like the idiot who discovers that eggs don’t grow in trees”.

This month, a group of six new villagers from Occoches, in the Somme, filed a legal complaint against a farmer over plans to place 80 cows in a field and stable near their property.

Their lawyer, Chloé Peyres, said: “That means no more summer barbecues.”

“The smell, the noise, the flies are real nuisances,” she argued.

Just a thought... but maybe her clients should have stayed in the city!..





Wedesday, 18th September 2019

Intergenerational Living is becoming increasingly popular in major French cities.

Intergenerational living is when senior citizens share their homes with young people. This offers a solution to two persistent social problems: caring for the elderly and affordable housing for young people.

Former social worker Véronique Estival, 56, first began thinking about taking in a young person around four years ago, after seeing a news report on the intergenerational homesharing agency Pari Solidaire. The idea appealed to her, but she still lived with her daughter in the apartment they shared in the southeastern Paris suburb of Vitry-sur-Seine.

More than a year later, Estival’s daughter moved out, and she found herself living alone and with a spare room. “The thought resurfaced that I didn’t want my apartment to be inhabited by just one person, especially in the Paris area where the housing market is tight,” she told FRANCE 24.

The idea took on a sudden sense of urgency late last year, when Estival was forced to take leave from her job in November due to health reasons. She was experiencing chronic loss of balance, which made it difficult for her to do simple chores like shopping for groceries.

“My entire family lives elsewhere in France, I’m the only one who lives in the Paris area ... I was alone,” she said. “With my health issues, I told myself it was getting complicated.”

Estival’s family harboured similar concerns. They wondered what would happen if she were one day unable to leave the apartment, and none of her neighbours noticed. She had friends, but they were busy with their own lives.

Estival contacted Pari Solidaire, which introduced her to Claire Garnett, a 25-year-old British woman. Garnett had recently moved to France from Cardiff, Wales, where she worked in the hotel industry. Unhappy with her job, she decided to leave everything behind to study French abroad.

Despite the language barrier and the 31-year age difference, the two women felt an immediate affinity for each other.

“My first impression of her was that she was someone who smiles a lot. For me, Claire is all smiles and fits of laughter,” Estival said.

A week after their first meeting, Garnett moved into Estival’s spare room on April 1. Under the terms of their homesharing agreement, Garnett pays a reduced rent of €240 per month, plus €10 for the WiFi they had installed after her arrival. Although Estival does not need the money, she said it helps make up some of the income she lost by being on sick leave. She and her family also find Garnett a reassuring presence in the apartment in the event of an emergency.

“It was like it was meant to be,” Garnett said.

Intergenerational living




Monday, 9th September 2019

Sheep make up the numbers!

This is almost unbelievable but, this is France, so it is completely believable!

Fifteen sheep have been enrolled at a French primary school after parents feared that some classes could close due to lack of pupils.

Jules-Ferry in Crets en Belledonne, a village of fewer than 4,000 people at the foot of the French Alps, was told one of its 11 classes would be closed after student numbers fell from 266 to 261.

More than a dozen sheep were "registered" at the school in a bid to boost pupil numbers.

Local farmer Michel Girerd and his dog came to the school on Tuesday morning with around 50 of his sheep - and 15 of them were signed up with birth certificates.

Parents, children and teachers watched on as sheep, with names such as "Baa-bete" and "Saute-Mouton", were added to the register.





Friday, 30th August 2019

The French police introduce a new vehicule...

French Police vehicules have been the butt of many jokes, but the French really do not help themselves....

The new French Police vehicule is an electric scooter!.. and the idea is that they may be useful in the fight against street crime.

A pair of specially designed scooters are being tested by officers in Honfleur, Calvados. They have a 30km range and can reach speeds of up to 25kph. It is expected that, in certain circumstances, officers using them will be able to reach incidents more quickly than those on foot, or even in cars.

The scooters, which are based on US Army models used in landing operations, have large tyres that mean officers will be able to ride over bumps and potholes in the road more easily.

Police scooter




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