Interview with Karen Fawcett, founder of Bonjour Paris

Written by admin on October 24, 2011 – 1:13 pm -

Journalist, editor, blogger, publisher, businesswoman, talent scout, Parisian and world traveler, Karen Fawcett is the president and founder of Bonjourparis.com The Definitive Guide to Paris. I first had the pleasure of meeting Karen nearly 25 years ago, in one of her previous incarnations (and mine).

Attention writers: the lady knows her business.

Karen Fawcett

Laurel Zuckerman : How did you get into journalism?

Karen Fawcett : I fell into it though the back door. When I was an interior designer in Washington, DC, the editor of the Sunday magazine Home-Life of the Washington Star asked me to do some scouting. Fast forward: I became an ongoing features/cover story contributor who produced stories and entire editions for over three years.

The articles focused on profiles of people in their homes, and designers and architects who realized their clients’ dreams. I loved it. When the Washington Star folded in August 1981, I’d made more money as an ongoing contributor that year than I’ve seen since in all of my years of being a journalist.

After moving to France in 1988, I didn’t have working papers, so I wrote for numerous print publications. My favorite was the (now defunct) “Expat Abroad” column for the international edition of USA Today. While my husband was sitting in meetings in different parts of the world, I was out meeting and doing and asking so many “none of my business” questions. The articles were 600-2000 words in length. My (now deceased) husband earned considerably more money, but I had a far better time.

LZ : What writers have influenced/inspired you the most?

KF : I could say Paul Theroux and so many other great writers. The reality is the writers who’ve influenced me most were journalists who took an interest in my writing and who became mentors. Garry and George Clifford were friends and journalists who encouraged me when I was learning the craft. Bud Korengold was another generous mentor who opened doors in Paris and beyond in his role as the head of information for the US Embassy in Paris. Charlie Leocha, publisher of Consumer Traveler and director of the Consumer Travel Alliance, has taught me to be a more linear writer. Odile Hellier of the Village Voice bookstore in Paris has had a strong influence on my reading selections for the past 23 years, and reading a wide range of style and authors I hope has made me a better writer. I’ve also been inspired by attending many authors’ readings.

LZ : How do you apply your journalism skills to publishing BonjourParis?

KF : Today BonjourParis has an executive editor who oversees publication. She manages editors and writers who provide content that meets professional journalistic standards. I continue to write my column, news from France and occasional articles. I’m focused on the bigger picture these days, such as expanding our readership, business and of course maintaining my professional network built over “a few decades.”

LZ : How have you built a subscriber base?

KF : Our subscriber base has gown over the years and is constantly expanding. Clearly, people come and go based on their interest in or travel to France. New website readers are asked to subscribe to the free newsletter, which is a double opt-in process. Others receive BonjourParis stories as they are posted at the site via RRS feed or via our FACEBOOK page.

LZ: What is your business model?

BonjourParis has always been part of what’s new, which has required that we be very proactive and flexible to new developments in technology. In the beginning BonjourParis was part of the Internet from the day when AOL first allowed everyday users, not just techhies using code, to communicate. There were no templates for content management, which required us to hire professional code programmers. A paid staff provided content.

BonjourParis had very little online competition. AOL was the leader, the French were not at all engaged in the Internet (other than Minitel) and anyone who searched AOL Travel for information about France found BonjourParis at AOL keyword: Bonjour on the Travel channel of AOL and Compuserve. We were heavily promoted by both.

I hold journalist credentials issued by the French Government Ministry of Foreign Affairs and am a foreign press member. Not only did the French ignore the Internet in those early days, they did not recognize online news providers and sites that provided original content as legitimate news sources. I fought for BonjourParis to be recognized as a serious news organization, and subsequently BonjourParis was the first Internet site officially recognized by the French government.

Changes over the last five years alone have taught us to adapt quickly to change and be proactive when possible. For example, when organizations we work with—such as google—change rules and policies we must respond in kind. When technological advances such as apps, Smartphones and digital readers became increasingly popular in the past 5 years or so, we were forced to look at functionality as well as site design because such innovations affect how readers view our content.

Every business has what they define as limited resources and BP isn’t Fodor’s nor is it a blog. When family emergencies forced me to take a break several years ago, I was unable to make BonjourParis my top priority. I returned to find competition in blogs, true, but also a huge community of people so passionate about writing about France that they “published” their blogs even when their audience was a handful. And, surprisingly, many of our print “competitors”—some very fine publications—had folded because they didn’t keep up with the times.

We have some advertising and are grateful for it; we like providing info (even in advertising) that helps our readers find the best answers to their specific wants and needs. Our premium members pay $34.95 a year for their subscriptions and some perks. BonjourParis has affiliate relations that generate a modicum of income. Google ads (pitiful but something is better than nothing) and unless you’re a sex site, forget about making real money.

LZ : How do you recruit and keep talent?

KF : Our writers come and go; and over the years, over than 14 contributors have ended up publishing books because they were “discovered” on BonjourParis. Because BonjourParis is a well-known content site, many published authors and up-and-coming writers have asked to be showcased on it. We’ve found some very good writers in the blogosphere and twitterverse. But, we’re always happy to be approached by more.

LZ : What do you look for in a writer?

KF :  Writers really need to know their subject, their readers’ needs and interests and have an original voice. The best travel writers possess curiosity, intelligence and the ability to anticipate what a reader wants to know before they even know they need to know it. Each and every writer needs an editor and they must accept that our editors will change a story to enhance Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that increases the likelihood a story will draw readers—vitally important for both the writer and BonjourParis. At times our editor invests significant time in coaching writers on Internet writing techniques, which are different than writing for static print. It’s a definite art that involves strategic placement of optimized keywords and the like. We consider all of this in choosing writers and proposed story topics.

LZ : Can a writer learn style?

KF : A writer can learn style and technique but it isn’t accomplished in a day.  They must be willing to work on their writing as a craft and it’s not easy.

LZ : You are a political person, very abreast of current affairs, and yet you keep politics out of BonjourParis. Why?

KF : I am giggling here. You’re right, I am extremely political but I learned (the hard way) not to express my personal beliefs. When the US invaded Iraq, I expressed my opinion and we lost half of our subscribers in one fell swoop.

Today we focus more on presenting the news from France without editorializing. And these stories get picked up and repeated, according to our site analytical reports.

LZ : What changes do you see in the business? Advice for writers starting out today?

KF : Enormous changes are unfolding now.  As we go to the digital age, there will be fewer books printed. On the positive side, writers who might not have been published before will have a chance to have their work read because it can be downloaded on demand.

Writers (and most especially freelancers) will earn substantially less than they would have earned 20 years ago.

If you want to be a writer and have to live on what you earn, don’t give up your day job until you are certain you can generate sufficient income.

LZ : You were a member of the Editorial Committee for the Paris Short Story Contest.  What did you learn from the experience? Advice for future contributors?

KF : Laurel, being on the editorial committee taught me a lot. First, people would not have submitted entries had they not perceived themselves as writers, so it was a self-selecting group. A few stories were immediate toss-outs. But, others had a lot of merit and could have been excellent with editing. Advice for writers: Say what is essential, do not use complex words when simple ones will convey the point and don’t stray from your subject. Put the story away and return later to tighten what you’ve written.

LZ : How important is it to you to follow your own instincts?

KF : I’ve been doing it for a lot of years, which is one of the reasons BonjourParis has a real sense of community. But, no one’s instincts are infallible and it’s essential to listen to others— most especially as the industry is changing with such incredible rapidity.

LZ : Do you have a special work regimen? (Special schedule, special foods…)

KF : No, I wish I did.  ;-)

LZ : What do you hope to achieve as a writer and a publisher?

KF : My hope is that BonjourParis will be recognized as the foremost online magazine about France. I am increasingly proud of each and every article published, but this wasn’t always so. We are in the process of deleting those that don’t make the grade and rewriting many that need improvement.

LZ : Of all your achievements, of what are you most proud?

KF : That’s a hard question. I am proud of so many. When it comes to BonjourParis however, it gives me great satisfaction that I still feel so passionate about living in and writing about France. And after all of these years, BonjourParis remains a site that continues to provide information to our many longtime readers with the help of many others.

Karen Fawcett is accredited by the French Ministry of the Interior as a member of the Foreign Press, a member of the Public Relations Society of America, The European- American Press Club, The French Press Club, The National Press Club in Washington, DC and was a founding member of the American Institute of Wine and Food’s Paris Chapter.  She has been president and owner of Bonjour Paris since the site launched on the Internet more than 14 years ago.


Posted in Paris |

Tips for Travelers Visiting Paris During Labor Strikes

Written by admin on October 24, 2011 – 1:04 pm -

Yes, strikes are bound to happen each and every year; and they can be irritating unless you have alternate plans

Unions are required to give public notice of strike dates, hoping for a settlement before a labor strike, but also to give people time to make alternative plans.

What groups are currently threatening to strike and why?

Last week’s rapid transit strike was more of a slowdown than a complete work stoppage. Air France workers are talking strike; let’s hope it’s settled before the engineers pull a no-show.

Several grèves are expected by people upset by President Sarkozy’s plans to raise the age workers can collect pension benefits. It’s expected pending legislation will increase the age of eligiblity for partial retirement benefits from age 60 to 62. Full benefits won’t kick in until age 67 rather than the current 65. It’s in keeping with other countries in the E.U., but that doesn’t mean the French (or anyone else) wouldn’t protest such retroactive change. Mainly salaried and union workers have the most to lose.

Senior management tends to work until they are older because they like the income and retirement benefits aren’t necessarily all they’re cracked up to be.

Drummers at a festive strike demonstration. Photo: airelle-info

Who supports strikers?

When strikes are called, it’s tout à fait évident that students get in on the action. They have plenty to complain about, like many students worldwide. French students don’t like the lack of facilities, the huge classes where a talking head lectures at the auditorium’s podium and perhaps some of the classes are a wee bit cold during winter months.

What many visitors don’t understand is that in France strikes are an accepted way of life and a much-privileged right. The French are fairly copacetic unless a strike blocks them from reaching their destination.

What happens at public “manifestations?”

Most strike manifestations take the form of parades, complete with marching bands and food trucks intermingled among the crowds. If the sun is shining, they can feel more like a 4th of July fête in the U.S. of A.

Sometimes large crowds of all ages assemble for speeches; often they march with signs, banners and bearing slogans on their clothing. Causes can be anything from rights for working mothers, animals, retirees, disabled persons, immigrants, lifestyle and religious choices, political causes related to France or any country in the world, grievances or celebrations and so on. Sometimes you even find groups protesting the frequency of strikes—the “anti-strike” strikers, if you will. Some French people joke that protests are a national pastime in France, but again, they generally consider strikes an important right.

A large street assembly. Photo: polisea Streets may be blocked by humans standing, marching or sitting; other times vehicles or objects form blockades. You may hear chanting, drumming, singing, rally cries, speeches and music (amplified or otherwise) or all of this or none when demonstrators choose somber silence. Most are scheduled in advance by labor unions and groups that want large turn-outs, and most are peaceful, if not aggravating when your bus or taxi is stuck behind the group. Police in riot gear are usually at the sidelines, but they do engage at times. If you’re on foot and you encounter a manifestation, take your cues from the locals: if they’re watching with curiosity, feel free to do the same. Always be discreet with cameras and it’s considered rude and even dangerous to take photos of some hot gatherings. Use your street smarts; walk away and beware of pickpockets who prey on distracted visitors when given the opportunity in any large crowd anywhere in the world.

Strike police in riot gear standby. Photo: cookylamoo

How will a strike affect you and other travelers?

Okay, so let’s say you’re in Paris and are worried you’ll be stranded. You probably won’t be stranded unless you’re mobility challenged. Even then, choose a café and watch the world go by while you read a book or view Paris as living theater.

We asked our Facebook readers to share their experiences with strikes in France. Most reported minor inconveniences with public transportation; some said advance notice of scheduled strikes allowed them to make other transportation plans. When trash collectors went on an extended strike in 2001, bulldozers filled alleys with mounds of rubbish.

Métro and bus strikes and alternative modes of transit

Public transit strikes are usually announced in advance, but a foreign visitor who doesn’t speak French can easily miss such announcements. Sometimes your hotel will post a notice or slip a note under your door to let you know.

A Paris Métro or bus strike usually means reduced frequency on main routes or your Métro car or bus may stop for a few minutes. A public address announcement may or may not be heard in the vehicle or on the platform; the bus stop digital sign may have the notice, but not always. You may encounter huge crowds if you’re about to board the last scheduled ride before a work stop or nobody at all.

When cashiers or those who stock the automated ticket dispensing machines go on strike, it’s free rides for all. In the photo to the right, the open gate on the left with the green arrow indicates riders may enter for free.

Remember, the BatobusOpen Bus and other sightseeing vehicles can take you around Paris when public transit is on strike.

You can rent a Vélib’ bike if available (you’ll have to wait your turn, bien sûr) and go as far as you can go.

And if you’re lucky and have prepared in advance (take heed of restrictions for foreign travelers), you may also try to rent an Autolib car in 30-minute increments to cross town.

If you need to get to the airport, you call a shuttle service or rent a car.

Paris has many private driver services, too; advance planning is best, but don’t hesitate to ask your hotel concierge for help the moment you know of a strike when you absolutely must reach an airport, rail station or specific destination at a certain time.

Major rail and airport strikes

Major rail stations and airports usually post strike service interruption notices on signs and monitors (in French and sometimes English or other languages). Uniformed staff may be available to assist travelers at airports and larger rail stations during strike service stops or major delays.

Before you fly, consult the official Paris Airports website to see if your flight or travel plans will be affected.

Airport monitor displaying strike notice. Photo: mmmmichie

Museums and monuments

Museums may be closed for a scheduled period lasting an hour or a day, but have been open at times without docents, guides or cashiers on duty—which meant free admission for all guests. By all means take advantage of this should you encounter such a situation in which a strike means a freebie for you.

If you bought a ticket to an exhibition scheduled for a specific day and you find it is closed for a strike, don’t toss your ticket thinking it’s invalid. Look for a posted notice of closure times and return when the museum reopens. You may (politely) request a refund or may be admitted at another time when the museum reopens.

Recently Musée d’Orsay was closed on a Wednesday when we had dated tickets for entry on that day. Every national museum and monument that required a ticket for admission was closed except the Louvre. It ended up being totally awesome: after going to the Louvre for 10 minutes, we went to Montemarte, which was by far my favorite part of Paris. When we returned on Saturday, the museums honored our Wednesday passes.

Eiffel Tower ticket window shuttered for strike. Photo: elniniodelabici

Taxi and private company strikes

Toulouse taxi protest blocked freeways in May 2011. Photo: SIPA

Taxi drivers strike to protest fuel taxes, license fees, mandatory insurance, and other grievances. They may park their empty cars with a posted strike notice at a stand, but they have also parked to block freeway traffic during protests. At times they have stopped midroute and informed customers this is the end of the line. You can go to a hotel to ask a doorman to hail you a taxi and expect to wait, but at times it beats walking.

Even employees of major corporations and small companies go on strike, which may close a business for hours, a day or longer. As long as I’ve been in Paris, it’s unusual when a restaurant is closed. If the chef can’t make it in from the suburbs, meals still are served.

Other activities for travelers during any variety of strike

Many people opt to become dedicated shoppers when there are strikes. Granted, there will be fewer sales personnel but ditto for clients.

Walk to your choice of the many museums in Paris owned by foundations or nongovernmental agencies and enjoy the day.

Spend the day in one of Paris’s magnificent parks and pretend you’re in the country. The French come into town and do precisely that and it can be magical.

I love dedicating strike days to a specific quartier and finding hidden treasures, because I don’t feel as if I need to see all of Paris in one day—much less do errands.

If it’s freezing cold or raining, you might want to declare it a movie day. You may not have come to Paris to see films but viewing them here is a cultural experience.

During grèves, most drivers don’t think twice about picking up hitchhikers, especially those with luggage and who don’t look like an ax-murderer. If you’re alone, look at someone who’s driving a scooter and stick out your thumb. The French tend to be compassionate if they have an extra helmet. You’ll return home with a story to tell.

Whether or not the French agree with a specific strike, there appears to be solidarity among the public–even if they’re only complaining about being inconvenienced.

Have you experience French strikes? If so, what have you done to keep busy? Here’s hoping few of you will respond, “slept in the airport or the train station.” That would be a shame. On the other hand, there are worse things than being stuck in Paris.

© Paris New Media, LLC

Karen@BonjourParis.com

PHOTO CREDITS:

Drummers at a festive strike demonstration. @airelle-info

Large street assembly. Photo:@polisea

Strike police in riot gear standby. Photo: ©cookylamoo

Airport monitor displaying strike notice. Photo: ©mmmmichie

Eiffel Tower ticket window shuttered for strike. Photo: ©elniniodelabici

Toulouse taxi protest blocked freeways in May 2011. Photo: SIPA


Posted in Paris |

Making a Paris Short-Term Rental Apartment Feel Like Home

Written by admin on October 24, 2011 – 1:00 pm -

Wait a second–you’re not coming to Paris or renting short-term digs anywhere to have it feel like the home you left. If so, you would have stayed put and not bothered, right? You’re heading to the City of Light for an entirely different experience . . . and bets are it will be.

However, the reality is you may be accustomed to certain creature comforts that you’ll need to import or buy once you arrive at your destination. Habits—especially after a certain age—are hard to break; if they weren’t, we’d love camping or staying in a youth hostel.

Most people who opt for a Paris short-term apartment rental for only a week can put up with almost anything. In my case, I’m fine as long as the bed is comfortable and the apartment is clean. Unfortunately, some people don’t have the same definition of clean and if you run into this problem call the renting landlord immediately and voice your complaints loudly.

If you don’t receive immediate satisfaction and worse comes to worst, you may need to roll up your sleeves and do some scrubbing. That’s no way to start a vacation, but it happens occasionally.

How do you make your home away feel like home? Bring it or buy it.

What to bring from home

Assuming you’re checking a suitcase, bring your own pillow with a couple of pillowcases. It’s amazing how much better you’ll sleep if you’re not trying to adjust to a harder, softer, firmer or whatever headrest or scratchy fabric. Many rental apartments don’t provide linens that have been rinsed with fabric softener.

Bring your favorite soap. There’s nothing worse than breaking out in hives or not feeling clean because the soap in your short-term rental apartment is different than what you’re accustomed to using. Most people think nothing of packing shampoo while soap can be the source of your discomfort.

Don’t forget photos of your family and/or your pets. They will immediately give your apartment a more homey feeling.
XtremeMac 3-in-One Microdock Charging Audio Dock with Alarm Clock for iPod and iPhone

Pack some tiny portable speakers or a smartphone charging dock with speakers to use on the flight and in your Paris apartment so you can set the mood in the room with your favorite music mix from your iPod, tablet or smartphone. It’s common for apartments to have a CD/DVD player for your use, so bring some of your favorite CDs if you prefer.

If your mobile phone, laptop or other digital device doesn’t have an alarm feature or app, bring a small travel alarm clock. Your rented apartment may or may not have an alarm clock; and there are few things more frustrating than being jet-lagged and challenged with figuring out how the apartment’s alarm clock works—especially if the prompts are written in French. You can’t leave a wake-up call with a hotel operator and there will be times when you need to be up and out.
What to buy in Paris

Make fresh flowers the focal point of your Paris apartment and you’ve made your imprint. Find a vase in the apartment before shopping or add one to your shopping list, which could be a nice keepsake to take home.

A bowl or basket filled with fresh fruit is not only aesthetically pleasing; it’s also healthy and tasty. Before you leave for Paris, know where and when the marché in your Paris “home” quartier is open.

If you’re on a romantic trip and the apartment seems less than romantic, you’ll find inexpensive votive candles at most mini-marts, groceries and specialty stores.

Set your breakfast table or tray with pretty napkins (paper will do) to use as you eat your croissants.

Staying longer? You can personalize your home-away-from-home for minimal cost if necessary:

Remember to buy items that you’ll take home as gifts. For example, if the walls are dreary, buy a poster or two to make the apartment look more like home.

I once rented an apartment with an extremely ugly table that overwhelmed the room. A tablecloth solved that problem.

Ideally, you’ll find you’ve rented the perfect short-term Paris apartment and you won’t need a thing or want to redecorate. But, even if you have snared the model premises, watch how your personal belongings will creep into its décor.

If you’ve personalized a Paris rental apartment, please share your smart tips below.

© Paris New Media, LLC


Posted in Around the World, Paris |

Free and Inexpensive Paris Activities

Written by admin on October 24, 2011 – 12:59 pm -

Hey, no one likes feeling poor but if you are, or simply want to save your euros for wonderful wines and dinners out, there’s no better place than Paris, where there are so many things to do that won’t bankrupt you.

Explore Paris with an unlimited public transit pass

One of the easiest and least expensive ways to spend a day is by exploring the city.

If you’ll arrive Thursday or later in the week, or are only visiting for a day or two, consider buying a one-day Mobilis Pass so you can hop on and off métros and buses to your heart’s delight. For €6.30 you can traverse the city and not have to count tickets.

If you’ll be in Paris for 4 days or more and expect to use the Métro, bus or RER as your main form of transportation, a weekly Navigo Carte (formerly the Carte Orange) is the way to go BUT it must be purchased on Friday through Thursday for a Monday through Sunday week. Buy Zones 1-2 for central Paris at a cost of €18.85 plus €5 for the plastic Navigo Carte with smart chip and you’ll have unlimited access for a week. Individual one-way tickets cost €1.70 and it’s not unusual for a busy traveler to make 4 or more transit runs in a single day. Bring a 1″ x 1″ photo of yourself (computer print quality is fine) and when you arrive in Paris, buy the plastic Navigo Carte at the airport or any Métro station. Always save and carry your receipt for the weekly fare plus the small ticket just in case your card is demagnetized, as happens. In this case, present all, explain and ask the cashier to issue a replacement card.Navigo Carte, unlimited week, month or year Metro, bus or RER card available  to visitors as locals.

For the cost of bus fare, hop the #69 bus at the Eiffel Tower and take a slow cruise through the city all the way to the last stop at Père-Lachaise Cemetery. Along the way you’ll pass Les Invalides, Musée d’Orsay and, after crossing the Seine, the Pyramid before the Louvre Museum and the Tuileries royal gardens. Then Notre-Dame and Sainte-Chapelle before you enter le Marais and its mix of historical sites and a hip shopping district before you see the modern Opera Bastille and, eventually, the end of the line.

If you like architecture, order the book Five Hundred Buildings in Paris and select 20 buildings you want to see. They should be in different quartiers and bets are you won’t have time to see them all in one day. This is a great way to learn the city and discover places you never knew existed.

When I first arrived in Paris, I’d climb on and off métros, walk into hidden alleys, passageways and stop in churches, not to pray (except possibly for my feet) but to rest and look at the building’s architecture. Many were magnificent and occasionally, the organist would be practicing. There’s nothing like an impromptu concert for inspiration.

Neighborhoods

Even if you’ve been living here forever, you’ll always encounter new finds because Paris is changing so quickly. Some places you remembered will have disappeared and been replaced with something wonderful—or in the event of a tabac, a fast-food outlet.

In the past 25 years, the city of Paris has gone the way of gentrification. If you don’t recognize a building, take a photo of it with your smartphone, note its address, hit the Internet and research its history.

Check the monthly BonjourParis Paris Events section for the monthly calendar and stories about major events. Most community festivals are free and they happen throughout the year.

Markets, Fairs and Salons

Barely a weekend goes by without a scheduled fair or salon. Admission is minimal (and sometimes) nothing. They can be a lot of fun and if there are wine expositions, you’ll drink the price of admission as you pass by the vendors’ booths. There is something such as too many samples.

Author readings and book-signings

Do check the BonjourParis monthly events column. Readings take place in bookstores, wine bars and at the American Library in the Paris 7th and are listed and, guess what, they’re free. You can’t do better than that even though it would be nice if you’d buy a book.

Parc Monceau in autumn. Photo: kjParks

It really doesn’t matter what the Paris weather is like (be prepared for all types), Paris parks are extraordinary and you don’t need to pay admission. Even if you’re not a horticulturalist, at the very least, many of the statues are worth noting. And parks (these are some favorites) are places for relaxing, people watching, enjoying children doing what they do and just being. Don’t forget to take a picnic (it can be a sandwich bought at a neighborhood bakery) or something far more elaborate and enjoy the scenery.

Cemeteries

Cemeteries are fascinating—and free. Don’t confine your visit to Père-Lachaise (although if you have time to visit only one, this should probably be it). There are 14 cemeteries within the Paris city limits and if you want to know more, David Downie’s book Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light is an excellent resource.

Antiques

Antiquing: You can look and not spend. Go to the previews at l’Hôtel Drouot. Cruise through the roving brocantes, the Louvre des Antiquaires, Clignancourt and Vanves.  If you feel like staying in the 6ème, head to rue Jacob if you’re looking for an education.

Paris panoramic from La Tour Montparnasse. Photo: Fabrice Rose

Paris from on high

For views of rooftops and more, head to the Tour Montparnasse, the top floors of department stores Printemps or Galeries Lafayette and the 9th floor of l’Institut du Monde Arabe. Grab something to eat at the casual cafés there, look at the Eiffel Tower and enjoy the incredible vistas. Naturally, it’s better to go on a clear day but that doesn’t mean cloudy days are out or after dark. Seeing Paris at night is magical, and viewing the lights on the Eiffel Tower sparkling for the first five minutes at the beginning of each hour is worth the price of admission.

Paris by Water

Purchase a Batobus pass and see Paris by going up and down the Seine. There are eight stops where you can get on and off and use it as if it’s a taxi. You’ll be in the center of the city and it’s easy to navigate different parts of it.

Museums

Yes, there many museums and cultural centers with free admission and you’ll be kept busier than busy. Admission to The Louvre is gratis on the first Sunday of each month, or enter after 6pm on Wednesdays or Fridays for the discounted entry that still gives you until 9:45pm to wander the museum. The French love museums, so be prepared for lines. Planning ahead helps if you purchase a MuseumPass, which gives you discounted admission to many Paris monuments, museums & transportation.

Shopping

Okay, shopping is free but buying isn’t. If you’re going to  bring clothes home and have a moderate budget or nearly nothing, you can snag clothes at for reasonable to cheap at the Sympa Stock Shops, but you have to work to find what you want. Clothing is thrown on tables, in baskets and finding the precise color you’ve been craving isn’t a slam-dunk. Don’t assume it’ll be junk. In reality, it may be last year’s design … and who cares?

People who want haute couture need to come during the two sale periods held every year in January and July, which requires planning but certainly can’t be considered a hardship assignment.

Paris can be (killer) expensive but there are ways to save money and you won’t have any less good of a time.

© Paris New Media, LLC

PHOTO CREDITS:

Seine in autumn at night ©nfrhtp

Panoramic Paris at night from la Tour Montparnasse © Fabrice ROSE


Posted in Paris |

France News: Sarkozy Baby, Gaddafi, French Economy, Hollande, Air France, DSK, Bettencourt

Written by admin on October 24, 2011 – 12:58 pm -

Muammar Gaddafi

The world is relieved that Muammar Gaddafi was killed Thursday by forces loyal to Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC). Gaddafi was the Arab world’s longest-serving ruler.  His dictatorship began with a bloodless coup in 1969 and ended in a bloodbath 42 years later. There are many theories as to how he died and his burial has been postponed until that can be resolved.

People are discussing Libya’s future. According to Voice of America, Abdul Karim, who is also general-secretary of the NTC, believes Libya has a bright Democratic future. “I trust the Libyan people. I believe they will unite to build the new Libya, where there will be justice with democracy and equal rights.” Let’s hope.

Politics and François HollandeFrancois Hollande. Photo: Reuters

Socialist François Hollande will be the party’s candidate in next spring’s French presidential elections opposing conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy.

In the second round, Hollande  won 56% of the votes against his opponent Martine Aubry. According to France 24.com, the Socialist party hopes he will be a candidate with sufficient voter appeal that he’ll be able to end the party’s presidential losing streak. Some question whether or not someone who’s never held a government post will be successful.

Sarkozy Baby

President Sarkozy and Carla Bruni. Photo: International Business Times

At approximately 8 p.m. last Wednesday, French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy gave birth to a baby girl, her second child and husband President Nicolas Sarkozy’s fourth.

The infant is the first to be born to a serving president in the history of the French Republic. The couple confirmed their daughter’s name is Giulia, the Italian form of Julia.

Press was camped out for two weeks prior to the baby’s birth as close to  the Clinique de la Muette in the Paris 16th as permitted.  The child’s birth was prematurely announced via Twitter and more than one publication announced it.

The President stopped by to see his wife when she was in labor, leaving 30 minutes later for a meeting in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel. He returned to the clinic the following afternoon saying how delighted he is over the baby’s birth. The First Lady has been adamant  the baby will not be a “public baby” and by no means a campaign tool.

Euro-zone Woes

After today’s meeting in Brussels, where it was hoped finance ministers and representatives would come to a conclusion as to how to shore up EU banks and economies, another meeting has already been scheduled to take place before Wednesday. The BBC reports President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said a crisis strategy will be discussed and adopted at the next meeting.

EU leaders need to agree about Greece and its financial crisis, how to recapitalize banks and establishing a larger bailout fund.

France losing its prime rating

France is likely to lose its top rating according to Standard & Poor’s. Bank ratings for Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and Portugal have already been downgraded and it may be France’s turn. Bloomberg News has an informative article about the situation.

Air France in Motion

Ousted Air France-KLM CEO Gourgeon. Photo: Alastair Miller-Bloomberg

Amid declining earnings and questions regarding the pilots’ culpability in the 2009 crash that originated in Brazil and resulted in the 228 people dying, Air France-KLM CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon resigned following a board meeting last week. The board’s chairman Cyril Spinetta, 68, will oversee the operation until Air France-KLM adopts a unified corporate structure. “Spinetta represents a safe pair of hands in a difficult period,” Andrew Lobbenberg, a London-based financial analyst told Bloomberg News.

DSK remains in Hot Water

Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Photo: APAccording to the New York Post, sources told the French newspaper, The Journal du Dimanche, that the 62-year-old Dominique Strauss-Kahn is among a group of politicians, lawyers and business leaders whose names were found in the ring’s “black book’’ of clients.

French cop Jean-Christophe Lagarde also allegedly escorted ladies of the evening all the way from the French city of Lille, where the ring was headquartered, to New York for DSK.

Strauss-Kahn’s personal prostitutes were allegedly selected for him by a 62-year-old procurer named Dominique “Dodo’’ Alderweireld, who made several trips to New York when DSK was there, the French paper said.

Dodo has since been arrested.

Early Monday, Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer said the former IMF chief wanted to be questioned by police so that he can debunk claims he was linked to a suspected hotel prostitution ring.

Lawyer Frederique Beaulieu says Strauss-Kahn “is asking to be questioned to put an end to these insinuations and extrapolations.”

L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt declared mentally unfit

L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt. Photo: AFP-Getty ImagesLiliane Bettencourt has been declared mentally unfit to manage her affairs by a Judge in France. The decision grants control of her financial affairs to her only child, daughter Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, and grandsons Jean-Victor and Nicolas. Bettencourt-Meyers has been fighting for years to protect her 88-year old mother, who has been victim to financial exploitation to the tune of more than one billion dollars, according to an earlier lawsuit. To read more about one of the world’s richest women, access this article in Forbes.

France loses to NZ in Rugby World Cup

New Zealand beat France 8-7 to win the World Cup in New Zealand this morning.

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France News: Steve Jobs, Socialists Rising, Sarkozy Sinking, French Economy

Written by admin on October 24, 2011 – 12:56 pm -

Steve Jobs. Photo: Apple.Death of Steve Jobs dominates news stories in France

The lead story in the French news this week was about the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. To read a most eloquent commemoration, the French newspaper Liberation said it all.

Sarkozy popularity at all-time low

The current French President’s popularity is at an all-time low and according to a recent poll, if the presidential election were held today, he would lose. The Socialists won control of the Senate last month for the first time since World War II.

Besides the economy, Sarkozy is being plagued by rumors of corruption and “les affaires” and is busy touring the globe to demonstrate his strength as a peacemaker. According to Bloomberg News, Sarkozy’s problems are bearing down on him. Even though people assume he will run for a second term, he has yet to declare.

Who will be the Socialist Candidate?Francois Hollande. Photo: World Bulletin.

Today is the first run-off election to see who and if one of the six candidates will win the first round. François Hollande is considered the leading candidate but one never knows. If he doesn’t win 50% of the vote, there will be a run-off between the two leading candidates on October 16. To read more about the French Socialist contenders and the elections, access the Wall Street Journal.

Investors urging France to reduce deficits

France is under heavy pressure by international investors to rein in chronic budget deficits to reassure investors that the country won’t be contaminated by the sovereign-debt crisis roiling Greece and other Southern European nations.

Germany and Greece signed an agreement this week aimed at boosting investment in the debt-drowned country and getting its economy growing again. To read more extensive coverage, consult the Wall Street Journal’s article.

Lyon Deputy Police Chief Michel Neyret. Photo: France24 Cops and robbers

Deputy police chief of Lyon, Michel Neyret, 55, has been suspended from the force because he’s under official investigation for having compensated informants with confiscated drugs and helping them to sell them.

According to the Telegraph, police also suspect him of helping a wanted international drug runner escape arrest. Neyret faces a ten-year prison sentence if convicted.

France Bans Ketchup in School Cafeterias

In an effort to promote healthful eating and, it has been suggested, to protect traditional Gallic cuisine, the French government has banned school and college cafeterias nationwide from offering the American tomato-based condiment with any food but—of all things —French fries. According to the LA Times, this is unAmerican.

And the world goes on.

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Meandering in the Paris 7th

Written by admin on October 24, 2011 – 12:52 pm -

After seeing those “when you’re in Paris” sights you just can’t miss, there are many others that will take your breath away. If you have time, try to explore individual arrondissements. That’s the most interesting way to learn about this city of villages.

If people didn’t know about the Rodin Museum and its spectacular gardens, where The Kiss reigns supreme for art lovers and romantics, they do now. After all, this is where Carla Bruni (the wife of France’s President Sarkozy) appeared as a tour guide in Woody Allen’s film Midnight in Paris.

For a euro (or for free if a child under the age of eight accompanies you), you can access the three hectares surrounding the Hôtel Biron, the former workshop of Auguste Rodin while he was living in the Villa des Brillants in the Paris suburb of Meudon. Rodin proposed the French state take over the property in the early 20th century house and restore it, on the condition they turn it into a museum to display his works and paintings he’d acquired by Vincent van Gogh and Renoir.

Rodin Museum garden. Photo: mbell1975Architect Jacques Sgard landscaped the garden. Even though it’s formal, complete with a reflecting pool and parterres, there are plenty of places to relax, and when the roses are in bloom, you’re in for a treat. There’s a cafeteria on the premises, but for my money, bring a picnic and simply veg out in one of the ever-so-inviting areas.

You don’t have to walk far to assemble a picnic. If you’re feeling as though you want nothing but the best, head to 36, av. de la Motte-Picquet and buy food fit for royalty at Lenôtre. This won’t be the least expensive carry-out meal you’ve ever had, but there are occasions when splurges are in order.

Or walk around the corner to the market on rue Cler. It’s a favorite pedestrian shopping street with people who live in the 7ème and also with tourists. If you feel like feasting on Italian delicacies (not to mention an incredible selection of hams), don’t miss Davoli. And yes, there is a good selection of wines to accompany your meal that you’re going to consume when (and if) you walk back to Rodin Museum.

Champ de Mars below Eiffel Tower. Photo: b00njIf you’re a cheese addict, you’ll appreciate La Fromagerie.There’s an outdoor counter where you can point, pay and run. But, if you want a real education, go inside the store where the cheesemongers (if they have time and you’re especially polite) might give you a mini-lesson about artisanal cheeses.

There’s an excellent bakery on the rue Cler across from Leader Price , a discount grocery store. Don’t hesitate to buy water and more there, because after you’ve spent your money on food glorious food, you might want to save a few centimes.

Rather than returning to the Rodin gardens, you might rather picnic on the Champ de Mars, located between École Militaire and the Eiffel Tower. People gravitate here to eat, for parades and simply to hang out. Children play with one another—and what could be more perfect?

You can see the Invalides and, if so inclined, tour this incredible military museum and pay homage to Napoleon’s tomb. Be careful not to walk into the wrong entrance or you’ll find yourself in a military hospital—which isn’t on the usual walking path. Done that and been there and don’t need to make a repeat visit and sadly, a few of those soldiers are still alive.

Invalides seen from Tour Montparnasse. Photo: tofmanSome people miss the basic ideas of Parisian city planning, based on Baroque principles of urbanism established by the Pope Sixtus V and his architect Domenico Fontana in Rome in the 1580s. Simply, this part of Paris is built on a perspective axis so you can see the Invalides , the Eiffel Tower and the Trocadéro from one vantage point, the south side of the Champ de Mars.

Even though some people feel Paris is overwhelming, in reality it’s a small city composed of neighborhoods. It’s one of the reasons people should stay in different parts of town to get a real sense of the city and not simply a superficial overview. The only true way to know Paris is by walking the streets, getting lost and knowing you’ll be treated to a surprise…

If you’re a shopper, the rue Saint-Dominique keeps getting better and better, which doesn’t necessarily mean cheap. It’s filled with boutiques where there’s something for everyone and every taste. One French friend states she shops exclusively here because the sales staffs know what she wants and there’s no way they could at the one of the department stores. To be sure, the personal shoppers at Galeries Lafayette or Le Bon Marché might take exception, but there’s no way she’d listen. Neighborhood residents tend to support local stores in BCBG quartiers.

One of the pleasures of living in Paris is how artistically store windows display what’s for sale. If you’re nervous about how much an item costs, legally the price has to be visible so you don’t have to enter the store.

If you buy something pour offrir, it will undoubtedly be wrapped so beautifully that the recipient will admire the presentation before ripping into the package to see what’s inside. By the way, few French seem to open gifts the minute they’re presented, because it’s not considered proper etiquette.

Some people love food not to mention restaurants, so thank you Christian Constant for the restaurants you’ve started, own and inspired other chefs to open, on rue Saint-Dominique.

Some people opt to shop while others are suckers for flowers. If you’re the latter, head to Natur’elle on avenue de la Bourdonnais. It’s a sense of priorities and aesthetics and some people would rather brighten their apartment or, better yet, a hotel room with a bouquet of flowers.

One of the joys of having the time to meander is discovering a hidden garden, a tiny vest-pocket park or a building you’ve never seen before. One day I was wandering down avenue Rapp and came across this asymmetrical Art Nouveau apartment house at 29, avenue Rapp that was constructed in 1901. My walking companion and I were mesmerized. Designed by Lavirotte, Salvador Dalí stated he thought the façade was the most erotic in Paris.

Lavirotte art nouveau building at 29, av Rapp, 7eme. Photo: dalbera

There were some tourists across the street reading from a guide about the building and there was no way we were going to leave without knowing something about the structure—and these were the days before you could Google on a smart phone. We felt no guilt intruding by pretending we were tourists. And we got lucky. Another gawker was a nice lady from Brussels who was a fan of Art Nouveau architecture and very knowledgeable.

But the reality is that we were residents and rarely does a day go by when there isn’t something new and wonderful begging to be discovered in Paris.

As the kids would say, “How cool is that?”

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France News: French Economy, Sarkozy & the Karachi Affair, Chirac, DSK and More

Written by admin on October 24, 2011 – 12:51 pm -

French economy

The economy is at dire crossroads and an unanticipated statement issued by the G20 reiterated its commitment to stabilize banks and financial markets. This will hopefully appease nervous investors on six continents.

“We’re committed to supporting growth, implementing credible fiscal consolidation plans, and ensuring strong sustainable growth,” said the communiqué from the Group of 20 nations. “This will require a collective and bold action plan with everyone doing their part.” To read more, The New York Times has an extensive article.

According to Reuters, world stocks slumped on to their lowest level in 13 months on Thursday with word of the possible risk of a new U.S. recession and weaker economic data from China, as well as Europe’s debt problems.

The pledge of action from the G20 gave a lift to the euro in early trading on Friday and softened stock losses in Asia.

As an indication the eurozone was working on adding to the strength of its 440 billion-euro financial rescue fund, the G20 statement said the bloc’s members would implement “actions to increase the flexibility of the EFSF and to maximize its impact” before the group’s next ministerial meeting in October.

Where’s the money?Thierry Gaubert. Photo ©France24

According to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, he did not receive any campaign funds related to what’s been labeled “the Karachi Affair.” Nicolas Bazire, 54, former campaign manager for Edouard Balladur and a close confidant of Sarkozy, was indicted for misusing corporate assets. Thierry Gaubert, another close friend of Sarkozy, also is under investigation.

Francois Esclatine, an attorney who represents Gaubert, told Reuters, “He disputes anything to do with political financing.” The two allegedly received suitcases filled with cash as kickbacks for selling arms and submarines to Pakistan.

Their legal troubles mark a twist in a complex case that aims to determine if a 2002 bomb attack in Karachi that killed 11 French workers was reprisal against France over its decision to stop paying arms sales commissions to Pakistan.

More troubles for Sarkozy

President Nicolas Sarkozy could lose his majority in the Senate in an election today for half the seats in the upper house, which will most likely be won by the political Left. That’s a major blow seven months before the presidential election.

The opposition Socialist Party will gain majority over the ruling conservative UMP if it wins only 23 new seats of the 170 seats up for grabs today.

France is also considering implementing a financial transaction tax as a means of generating revenue for the treasury.

Sarkozy in NY. Photo © AFP/Getty Images-Daniel BerehulakSarkozy in the Big Apple

Sarkozy visited the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor to celebrate his nation’s centuries-long friendship with the United StatesNew York Mayor Michael Bloomberg accompanied Sarkozy as he addressed a small crowd of dignitaries in a courtyard on Liberty Island.

According to the Associated Press, the French president, who was in NY for the United Nations General Assembly, said, “It is not simply a statue. It is a notion, an idea, an emblem for people throughout the world.”

Francois Hollande. Photo: Francois Hollande, FlickrThe Socialists:  Where do they stand?

According to AFP, François Hollande and Martine Aubry would lead the first round of the presidential election against Nicolas Sarkozy. But according to a recent CSA poll Hollande would face Marine Le Pen in the second round if the Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal were the runner-up. So much can happen before the elections.

DSK to be questioned by French police

According to Bloomberg News, the French prosecutors office has mandated that police question DSK with the French writer Tristane Banon, who has accused him of attempted rape.

Police previously interviewed Strauss-Kahn about Tristane Banon’s allegations. Their 2003 encounter “didn’t involve any aggression, any violence,” Strauss-Kahn said in a television interview, calling her accusations “imaginary.”

Two women fined for wearing Islamic face veils

A French court has convicted and fined two women for wearing Islamic face veils in public in defiance of the ban, which took effect in April 2011. The women were fined 120 and 80 euros respectively for wearing niqabs to the Meaux city hall in May. The women had a birthday cake for the conservative mayor, who championed the ban.

France is the first European country to ban the wearing of the Islamic burqa, or full-body covering, and the niqab in public. To read more, access Radio Free Europe.

Chirac trial may be dismissed

Bets are on that the corruption trial for former president of France and the mayor of Paris Jacques Chirac will be dismissed because of his poor health.

Next week is another week and who can predict the future?

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France News: France Economy, DSK TV Interview, Eurozone, Sarkozy, de Villepin

Written by admin on October 24, 2011 – 12:50 pm -

France’s Economy

France’s economy was the major concern this past week and will continue to be as financial leaders who met in private sessions in Wroclaw, Poland discussed various options.

The European debt crisis led Moody’s to downgrade two major French banks and place a third under review.

According to The Washington Post, French banks probably have enough capital to deal with potential losses on their Greek holdings. But the banks are being subjected to a loss of confidence that’s making them increasingly vulnerable to volatility in financial markets.

American money market funds — an important source of dollars for the banks — have shied away from French banks Société Générale SA and Crédit Agricole SA since the debt crisis intensified over the summer, stated the Moody’s report.

BNP Paribas’s shares tumbled on Friday. According to Reuters, two Paris-based traders blamed the drop on expectations that Moody’s may cut Italy’s credit rating after the market close on Friday. BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole are the two French banks most exposed to Italian loans.

Geithner gets cold shoulder

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner delivered an unusually direct plea for immediate action to his E.U. counterparts He urged leaders to move with more unity to head off a potential new wave of financial crisis on the continent that began in Greece, but has spread to Spain and Italy. Geitner received a chilly response, according to The Washington Post. Many European finance ministers who heard Geithner speak in Poland seemed to bristle at him intruding on their affairs. Europe’s leaders pledge support for the single currency as talk among some is of default.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: Financial Times/EPAGermany’s Merkel: “the euro will not fail”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared, “The euro will not fail,” after the country’s powerful constitutional court rejected a series of challenges to the multibillion-euro rescue packages agreed upon last year for Greece and other debt-strapped members of the eurozone (Financial Times.)

In a passionate restatement of Germany’s determination to defend the common currency, the chancellor welcomed the court’s judgment as “absolutely confirming” her government’s policy of “solidarity with individual responsibility.” Germany would continue to demand drastic debt reduction from its eurozone partners in exchange for providing them with financial guarantees, she said.

IMF head Christine Lagarde. Photo: Financial Times-BloombergIMF’s Lagarde threatens to withhold Greek loan

Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the IMF may withhold its portion of an €8 billion ($11billion) aid payment, saying Greece must re-ignite its pledge to deliver on commitments,” adding that its “momentum had slowed down.” (Financial Times)

“If there has been no implementation, there will be no financing,” Lagarde told CNBC, in describing the IMF’s lending practices.

The eurozone’s finance ministers decided to give Greece until October to fulfill its commitments.

TF1 screen shot from video. @TF1 France TVStrauss-Kahn: First Live TV Post-Release Interview on TF1 Tonight

DSK will be interviewed tonight on the news station TF1 at 8p.m. Paris time. According to France24.com, it’s expected he’ll be questioned about his political future, the future of his party and the current crisis of the euro and more.

French Socialist candidates pledge to tax rich, cut deficit

In a televised debate covered here in video by euronews, each of the six leading contenders for the Socialist party’s presidential candidacy pledged to raise taxes on the rich and continue international commitments to reduce France’s deficit if elected in next year’s election. Next month’s primary elections will focus on France’s sputtering economic recovery and the country’s high unemployment.  Proposals will be presented ranging from tougher regulation of banks to youth employment programs.

François Hollande, the current favorite to win the Socialist nomination was quoted by Reuters as saying, “I do not like outrageous wealth, I do not like indecent remunerations, I do not like selfishness.” He pledged to increase taxes on the richest French to help fund proposals such as increasing funds to be spent on education. Hollande said he would target France having a balanced budget by 2017.

Dominique de Villepin cleared of smear campaign allegations

Dominique de Villepin, the former French prime minister, has been cleared by an appeals court of involvement in a smear campaign against President Nicolas Sarkozy, his bitter political foe in the run up to the 2007 election, per The Telegraph.

The dropped charges ends a six-year legal battle in what was known as “the Clearstream Affair” because of its links to the Luxembourg-based securities clearing house.

This leaves Villepin free to challenge Mr. Sarkozy in the 2012 election.

The same article reported that after de Villepin was cleared, he said, “I’ve come out of this test even stronger than before, and even more determined to serve my fellow Frenchmen.”

UK PM David Cameron & France President Nicolas Sarkozy. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Libya: Sarkozy and Cameron visit Tripoli

According to the Guardian U.K., President Sarkozy wants to take credit for helping to establish a workable post-Gaddafi Libya and wants France to succeed where the US failed in Iraq. The Guardian added Sarkozy hopes to rectify his public image as being impulsive and lacking diplomacy by showing he can win over others as part of an alliance of world partners.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and Sarkozy went to great lengths to stress they did not go to Libya seeking lucrative construction contract and preferential terms on oil deals. But, politics are politics and both France and the U.K. took lead roles in Libya.

New Muslim mosque opens

Last Friday, more than 2,000 Muslim men went to a former barracks on boulevard Ney on the edge of Paris that was turned into a mosque to accommodate Muslims who pray in the streets of the Goutte d’Or. The French government is trying to ban the public practice by giving people places to pray. But this solution does not solve everything and most probably, some people may object. For more, see video news report by TF1 French TV.

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France News: Sarkozy Holds 9-11 Memorial, Galliano Guilty, EU Economics, Chirac Trial, Strauss-Kahn

Written by admin on October 24, 2011 – 12:48 pm -

U.S. Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin & France President Nicolas Sarkozy at Paris 9-11 Memorial. Photo: ©APSarkozy holds Paris 9-11 memorial

France President Nicolas Sarkozy commemorated 9-11 at the U.S. Embassy in Paris on Friday. The French President said, “On this day of September 11th, every French person felt hit. The barbarians chose New York as the epicenter, but it could have been Paris.”

U.S. Ambassador Charles Rivkin said in an interview with the Associated Press that the U.S.-French relations have improved since September 11th, 2001, and “I don’t think it could get better.”

G-7 leaders meet to discuss economy crisis

According to Business Day, finance heads and bankers from the world’s most powerful nations met in Marseille on Friday and Saturday to discuss the economic crisis. The euro zone has been dramatically affected. The optimal way to manage currencies is a critical topic. France and Germany are particularly exposed to EU loan defaults, including those of Greece, Italy, Ireland and Portugal.

G-7 Finance Ministers in Marseille. Photo: ReutersU.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner stated, “Unless the debt crisis is resolved soon and is accompanied by significant structural and fiscal reforms, Europe faces poor growth prospects.” Avoiding a recession and reassuring the financial markets are two pressing challenges according to the French publication Le Point.

France was the first country to approve measures aimed at increasing the flexibility of the euro zone rescue fund and providing Greece with a second tranche of aid.

The Financial Times reported that members of the senate, France’s upper house of parliament, gave their approval on Thursday to increase the European Financial Stability Facility’s scope.

“Countries must act now, and act boldly, to steer their economies through this dangerous new phase of the recovery,” said Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund in a quote published in Investment Week.

Reuters has reported that Germany and France have sent a letter to the European Commission pressing for a financial transfer tax.

John Galliano. Photo: ©Reuters-Gonzalo FuentesJohn Galliano guilty of racial abuse, symbolic cash damages

British fashion designer John Galliano was convicted of making “public anti-Semitic and racist remarks” in a Paris bar in February 2011 and October 2010.

Following the incidents, Dior terminated Galliano. He didn’t appear in court in Paris and was fined €6,000 and ordered to pay a symbolic €1 in damages to his victims plus pay the legal costs of five anti-racist organizations, who were represented at his trial in June. To read more, access The Independent UK.

Chirac trial will proceed without his presence in courtFormer President J. Chirac. Photo: Getty-Independent

The trial of former French President Jacques Chirac on corruption charges will proceed without Mr. Chirac having to be present, a court decided Monday, citing the poor state of Mr. Chirac’s mental health, according to the New York Times.

Mr. Chirac, who is 78 years old, has been diagnosed as suffering from anosognosia, that causes a substantial memory loss.

Anosognosia is often seen in Alzheimer’s patients. Mr. Chirac’s lawyers contend that in his case, this may be an outcome related to a 2005 stroke.

Mixed responses to Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s return to Paris

Dominique Strauss-Kahn and his wife Anne Sinclair returned to Paris to a quasi-hero’s welcome. By some that is. Many feel that Strauss-Kahn, once the Socialist Party’s best hope for winning next year’s presidential election, still has a role to play in public life. He’s considered to be a talented politician and one of the few credible economic thinkers on the French left.

As finance minister from 1997 to 1999, he paved the way for France’s adoption of the euro by cutting the budget deficit and reducing debt. He restored the IMF to relevance by building consensus on reform and helping Europe to overcome its divisions in the first Greek crisis of 2010.

On the other hand, the Financial Times reports that many feminists and others are inflamed that the former head of the IMF has not made amends.

Court orders man to pay ex-wife damages for lack of sexual relations

A judge in Nice cited French civil code article 215 when he fined a 51-year-old man nearly €10,000 for not fulfilling marital obligations with the woman who is now his ex-wife, per The Telegraph. The judge in southern France’s highest court in Aix-en-Provence ruled: “A sexual relationship between husband and wife is the expression of affection they have for each other, and in this case it was absent. By getting married, couples agree to sharing their life and this clearly implies they will have sex with each other.”

This is not all the French news to report but these are some of the highlights. Stay tuned.

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