Archive for October, 2012

Common “Denominators” – Halloween?

October 31, 2012 @ 11:09 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Paris France Halloween Celebrations

Naturally Disneyland Paris celebrates Halloween!

The things we have in common.  What do Halloween, exports/imports and horrendous weather have to do with one another?  On the surface, nothing at all.  But this is France Daily Photo, and one never knows how simple lanes of thought converge!

Though initially a Celtic pagan celebration of sorts, Halloween in France has never seen the levels of revelry we witness in America.  Generally, pumpkin-carving and scary haunted houses, candy corn and trick-or-treating were unknown to French children.  After all, imagine an enfant choosing candy corn over calissons or French chocolates!

Today, though, American pop culture has spread some of the wicked joy of Halloween in France. The virtual “queen” of American icons, McDonald’s becomes a go-to destination for teens, and some cafes and bars add those festive touches as a marketing touch to draw customers on Halloween.

Sometimes, it is equally odd and interesting to note what our countries share.  Thanksgiving is uniquely American; Bastille Day is France’s celebration of independence like our 4th of July.  We relish French croissants, perfumes and wines; especially younger French people embrace the hamburger and iconic, brand-name chains like Pizza Hut and Starbucks.  There seems a “Wild West” allure to the frontier spirit of America.  I mentioned in the past that students answered, “cowboys”; when I asked the first thing America brought to mind.  The American psyche seems to gravitate directly to French fashion.

The truth is we enjoy excellent trade relations with France. Actually, the United States imports about $7 billion more in goods from France than the $21 billion we export to our ally across the Atlantic.  Beyond Kentucky Fried Chicken and “Big Macs”, France taps our nation for cane and beet sugar, diamonds and oil-field platforms and equipment.  Civilian aircraft engines, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals are dominant imports from France.  And did I mention lovely French champagnes.

Though Americans tend toward domestic news, France also shares tragic experiences.  Under a global spotlight, Frankenstorm “Sandy” brought horrible destruction and death to the Northeast.  Less devastating but as troubling have been the fierce storms and chilling temperatures throughout the Riviera and Alpes Maritimes over the past several days.  The sudden cold snaps and gale-force winds have been responsible for several deaths.

On this auspicious American holiday, we wish the French a rapid recovery from their own destructive weather and a grande “Merci” for centuries of friendship.

We’d love to hear from you!  swsheridan@francedailyphoto.com

Copyright © 2005-2012, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Great Expectations in Aulnay

October 30, 2012 @ 12:00 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan

 

Thousands of jobs threatened in Aulnay outside Paris

Peugeot plant closing threatens thousands of jobs in Aulnay

Charles Dickens called upon a fellow named Pip to explore the concepts of ambition and self-improvement.  Whatever Pip recognized as positive – whether wealth, goodness or social advancement – he aimed to make a part of his life, to fold into his plan for self improvement.  He had “Great Expectations about his future, though he ultimately came to understand that inner worth has more to do with loyalty and conscience than with education and social standing.

Today, I read about the potential closure of the historic PSA Peugeot Citroen plant at Aulnay-sous-Bois.  The region already is burdened with high unemployment, so imagine the fear struck in the hearts of the French auto giant’s 3,300 –strong workforce at the plant.

Workers and local officials echo one word, when contemplating the factory closure – “disaster”.    The prospect of thousands of workers joining the ever-lengthening lines at job centers in a region shattered by high unemployment (16.8% in Aulnay) has swept a cloak of fear and anger over the area.

Seven trade unions have vowed “any necessary action” to save the plant, yet PSA bosses examine a possible 8% to 12% decline in the French automobile market this year.  The unions respond that PSA beat their sales records just two years ago.  Memories of the two-week reign of violent protests in 2005 linger; and the potential factory closing, rising crime and poverty fuel the potential for more.

To be certain expected mass layoffs from a number of French companies send a quake or two through François Hollande’s new government, just as Detroit’s upheaval impacted newly-elected President Barack Obama.

And that brings us back to “Great Expectations”.  The people of France and America, Germany and Greece, Spain and Poland and beyond are fearful that their great expectations are turning to dust, that those promised rewards for hard work hang in the balance.   Clearly conservative economists have not been a critical part of the planning and actions, that have brought much of the world to this point.  Those promises have not been funded, and the years of excess are taking their toll.

We are facing America’s elections in one week, and I believe some of the great disenchantment in this country is the failure of our elected officials to collaborate in any decision-making process, from passing a workable budget to reinvigorating the economy.  Without the combination of intelligence and simple wisdom, many of us fear the disappearance of our own Great Expectations.

 

We’d love to hear from you!  swsheridan@francedailyphoto.com

Copyright © 2005-2012, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

Please Your Palate in Aix-en-Provence!

October 29, 2012 @ 1:01 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Aix-en-Provence France

Terrace dining on Place Forum des Cardeurs

 

Something tells me I’m long overdue for another discussion about food.  That subject seems to be a morning-noon-night event for us in France, so what better place to tell you about than Place Forum des Cardeurs in Aix-en-Provence.  We were able to spend three wonderful nights in this entirely enchanting city, and locating the Forum was a highlight that drew us back again and again.

Wander along the Place, and your experience will be reminiscent of the most delightful, varied, historic “food court” imaginable.  (Sorry – don’t know that it is even fair to toss in that ‘mall-ish’ American phrase!)   Lining the main street and those tiny alleys that find their way off the Place are cafes and bistros, pizzerias and brasseries – a plentiful collection of menus, outdoor canopied terraces and hospitable establishments.

Prima Pasta, for example, offers indoor and outdoor seating around the square with a menu of delicious pastas, meat, fish and fowl entrees.  Friendly service only adds to the overall experience of outdoor dining with an abundance of “people watching”.  La Poire in Aix is another choice, complete with three chefs serving up a variety of appetizers, fish entrees and irresistible desserts.  With so much fresh produce and ‘gifts from the land’, any chef can shine in Provence!

Juste en Face specializes in Mediterranean in a casual, inexpensive environment, and Chez Nino brings us back to good Italian food, just off the Place.   In a setting that is tasteful, charming and welcoming, you can enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner – crisply fresh salads, risotto, pasta, desserts and a nice selection of Italian (and some French) wines.   Those are just a few of the choices in one area of Aix, a city that seems to have an unending supply of dining options.

Outdoor dining choices in Aix-en-Provence

A sip of wine, a plate of pasta!

I must add a disclaimer here.  I’m often told that I’m “easy to please”, and I can assure you that is especially true anyplace in France!  I also tend to have a “non-exotic” palate.  Combine the two, and I might not be your best restaurant guide; but I challenge you to wander the Place Forum in Aix to find those terrace cafes and tucked-away bistros that appeal to your own sense of taste.

We’d love to hear from you!  swsheridan@francedailyphoto.com

Copyright © 2005-2012, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

 

 

A Cherished Gift from Aurillac

October 27, 2012 @ 3:53 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Great grandmother's coiffe from Aurillac France

A special gift from Aurillac

 

When we were recently visiting friends, I noticed this framed article of clothing – a French antique coiffe – and asked about it.  Turns out, there was quite a refreshing story attached to the delicate piece.  When our friend was taking a six-week French program in the Auvergne region, she requested some one-on-one time with a local resident, in order to enhance her conversational French skills.

The program director paired her with a very pleasant lady – a writer who lived in a small château with her husband.  My friend and her mentor enjoyed their times together and kept in touch through the years.  During one visit, our friend mistook the time of her train departure, and the lady insisted she return to their home to pass the time.

It was then her hostess presented her with this “coiffe” that had belonged to her arrière-grand-mère (great grandmother)  in Aurillac.   “I like imagining a piece from my ancestor in America.”

What a tender story!  We find the same is true in our home, where a piece of art or a dish brings memories of places visited and people remembered.  And that very special gift from France is a perfect touch in our friend’s home.  It’s rather nice to imagine her Auvergne friend smiling at the thought of this lovely coiffe being cherished in America.

We’d love to hear from you!  swsheridan@francedailyphoto.com

Copyright © 2005-2012, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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