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.

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Posted in Around the World, 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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Posted in Around the World, Paris |

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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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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France News: Gaddafi, Libya, Hillary Clinton, Syria, DSK, Sarkozy & Carrefour

Written by admin on October 24, 2011 – 12:47 pm -

Sept. 1 meeting in Paris re: Libya's future. ©AP PhotoSixty world leaders met in Paris to discuss Libya

Sixty world leaders met in Paris last Friday on the 42nd anniversary of Moammar Gaddafi proclaiming himself de facto leader of Libya. Even though the whereabouts of the dictator aren’t precisely known, officials from Libya’s ruling interim council met with foreign officials and donor groups to discuss financing needs for the weeks and months ahead as Libya starts its rebuilding process.

The conference included the United Nations and nine other multinational organizations. The New York Times reported France President Sarkozy and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron convened the meeting. Both are hoping to have first rights to Libya’s oil supply.

The two men had jointly pressed for military intervention and it was their air forces that have executed many of the bombing runs that protected rebels and enabled them to seize the capital, Tripoli.

According to France24, world leaders agreed to free up billions of dollars in frozen assets to help Libya’s NTC (National Transitional Council) restore vital services.

In addition, short-term aid and longer-term loans will also be needed to help the North African state stave off a humanitarian crisis. The U.S. State Department estimates the NTC could need $500 million for humanitarian needs, $500 million for civilian fuel and power and $500 million for food and health services.

These loans would require approval from International Monetary Fund, World Bank and USAID. For this to happen, the interim government would have to receive approval from the IMF, which would require approval from its 187 members.

France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy took a leading role last March being the first country to recognize the NTC. Sarkozy plans to visit Libya as soon as Gaddafi is found, and according to the Guardian UK Sarkozy hopes this will elevate France’s reputation in the Arab world and his status in the public’s opinion polls.

U.S. Sec of State Hillary Clinton, Paris, Sept. 1, 2011. Photo credit: ©ReutersClinton says al-Assad must step aside in Syria

In Paris, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the world community should escalate pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by targeting Syria’s oil and gas exports and force him out of office. “The violence must stop and he needs to step aside,” Clinton told reporters in Paris after a meeting Thursday on Libya.

The United Nations cites that more than 2,200 people have been killed since the beginning of near-daily protests across the country protesting Assad’s regime since last March.

Sarkozy comes under fire

An explosive new book states that President Nicolas Sarkozy received illegal contributions for his 2007 presidential election fromLiliane BettencourtL’Oréal’s cosmetics heiress. In addition Le Monde claims the French secret service spied on the journalist by tapping his phone calls.

DSK & Anne Sinclair at NY's JFK airport on Sept. 3, 2011. Photo: ©NY TimesDominique Strauss-Kahn returns to France

Dominique Strauss-Kahn returned to Paris today after meeting with his former colleagues at the IMF last week, including its director and his replacement, Christine Lagarde. Strauss-Kahn received a standing ovation after his speech where he said that his four years at the IMF were some of the most meaningful of his career.

According to Reuters, the French Socialists are uneasy and are distancing themselves from DSK, who was a leading presidential contender before being accused of sexual assault. Stay tuned.

Carrefour SA posts losses

According to Bloomberg News, Europe’s largest retailer, Carrefour SA, posted an unexpected net loss in the first half of 2011 and abandoned its growth target for the year amid the economic slowdown.

The French retailer reported a net loss of 249 million euro ($359 million) in the first six months of the year contrasted with a 97 million euro profit in 2010.

Stay tuned for next week’s news after the rentrée.

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Posted in Around the World, Paris |

9-11 Ten Years Later: Paris, Provence, Loss, Sadness and Joy

Written by admin on October 24, 2011 – 12:42 pm -

Ever since September 11, 2001, most people can’t have that day come and go without remembering the devastating destruction and loss that occurred. Three thousand people lost their lives; and we lost some of our freedom. For many, it was the end of an age of innocence. It’s one of the defining acts in recent history that has impacted travel and so much more. As much as we’d like, the world will never be the same.

I remember the day as if it were yesterday. I was sitting at my desk in Paris in the afternoon, writing away. Because of the six-hour time difference, it was morning on the East Coast of the U.S. My son would usually sign on his computer and thank goodness for AOL instant Messenger (AIM). Even though we were on different continents, I had the feeling of being able to “talk” to him if necessary. As soon as he signed on, he started typing as if in a whirlwind. Where was I? What was I doing? He told me to turn on the television so I could see what was happening.

I ran into the living room just in time to see the second tower crumbling down. This couldn’t be real. Clearly, this was a bad movie and couldn’t be real.

Please remember these were the days before most of us had high-speed Internet, much less Wi-Fi. I grabbed my laptop and moved into the living room, plugged in the rinky-dink modem and, amazingly enough, was able to snag an AOL dial-up connection.

Sitting on the sofa in total disbelief, I IMed with my son and a couple of other people on my Buddy List. Who could possibly believe what we were seeing on CNN and why was this happening? The horror and the terror were not to be believed. It would be a while before we knew the whys.

I was unable to reach my mother who lived less than two miles from the Pentagon. All of the phone lines were jammed and there was no way I could make a call from Paris to Washington, DC. The irony was my mother thought I should move home (meaning where she was) because of some mini-bombs that had recently been detonated on the Champs-Élysées.

A Buddy List friend, who lived in the area, finally contacted her only to find out she’d been sleeping. My son had gone home to his wife so he was off-line.

People frequently want to know what it feels like to be an expat. In this case, I wanted to be with family. But would that have changed anything? In essence, we were all impotent and could do nothing but wait and hope the nightmare would abate and we’d wake up and realize it had been a bad dream and shake the dust out of our eyes.

Phyllis Flick, who’d just moved to Paris to study, had rented a room down the street and didn’t have access to CNN. Even though we’d never met except through BonjourParis, she asked if she could come up to the apartment so she could see English-language television. That was fine with me. I was pleased to have the company and I think she camped on the sofa in front of the television. To be honest, the entire time was a blur.

How well I remember my neighbors knocking on my door and asking if there was anything they could do for me. We really didn’t know one another, but they knew that I was l’américaine and at times such as this, even the French don’t stand on formality.

The memory of my downstairs neighbor who worked for Microsoft will be indelibly etched in my mind. Michel appeared and insisted I come downstairs for dinner and their door was always open in the event I wanted coffee, company or a cigarette. Yes, it was politically and socially correct to smoke in La Belle France then.

I needed to get out of the apartment and just walk and try to digest the devastation of what had happened. Each time I passed a store, a cafe, a bar or any of my usual haunts, people came out and asked if they could help. Would I like a coffee, a drink, something to eat or some company? The adage that the French are aloof was shot to hell that day and for a long time to come. When world-changing crises such as this occur, we find solace from others.

My husband Victor had left for Provence a couple of days before. He so loved that house in the vines, and I was planning to join him a couple of days later. Since his U.S. office was headquartered next to the World Trade Center, he was concerned about many of his colleagues and friends. What a terrible time when he heard that one of the offices where he’d worked was no longer standing. So much sadness.

When I started writing this, I realized Victor died on September 12th, so it’s even more poignant. I came across this article in the archives of BonjourParis and thought it would be appropriate to republish.

To the many people in all of our lives who’ve been lost for myriad reasons, let’s raise a glass to them. To those who are our friends and part of our families, let’s do everything possible to nurture and cherish them.

Please know I consider BonjourParis readers family. You may come and go, but we’re a community and so many thanks to each and every one of you for being there.

September 11, 2011

© Paris New Media, LLC


Posted in Around the World, Paris |

News from France: Economics, Google-Hachette Libre Settlement, DSK, Baguettes

Written by admin on October 24, 2011 – 12:36 pm -

The majority of this week’s news from France has to do with the economy, as the world markets ricochet, causing traders and investors to tremble.

Standard & Poor downgraded the U.S.’s triple-A credit rating to AA-plus. Now France’s AAA rating is under fire and President Sarkozy returned to Paris to preside over a small cabinet meeting on Wednesday. According to the New York Times, he instructed his budget and finance ministers to come back this week with new measures to ensure that France meets its targets of a deficit of 5.7 percent of gross domestic product this year, 4.6 percent next year and 3 percent in 2013.

Because 2012 is an election year, the French president is especially eager to improve his popularity rating which according to Bloomberg News is holding steady at 36%.

Sarkozy and Merkel will meet in Paris on Tuesday

German Chancellor Merkel.  Photo credit: AFP-France 24On August 16th, German Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy will meet in Paris to discuss economic governance of the 17-nation euro region.

In the interim, France, Italy, Spain and Belgium have banned “shorting” of banking stocks for two weeks in the wake of this past week’s market chaos, according to the London Telegraph.

Google and Hachette Libre reach online publishing agreement

Google has reached an agreement with France’s largest publishing company, Hachette Libre. The agreement will allow Google to digitize and scan books from Hachette’s library of copyrighted but out-of-print books.

DSK update

What would a week be without news of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, whose legal problems are by no means disappearing? Even though it appears as if the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office may drop the criminal case against the former head of the International Monetary FundKenneth Thompson, the lawyer who represents Nafissatou Diallo, the hotel maid from Guinea, who accused Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault, is proceeding with the civil case.

Thompson, the son of one of the city’s first policewomen to be assigned to be a street beat cop, was an assistant with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn. His work prosecuting and convicting a New York policeman for beating and sodomizing a Haitian immigrant was an essential part of the case. Fifteen years later, he’s at the center of another high-profile case with racial overtones. To read more, access this article by Reuters.

Dalai Lama in Toulouse

Spiritual Leader Dalai Lama arrived in Toulouse on Friday for a three-day visit.  He was greeted at the airport by Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen and spiritual directors and members of the Organizing Committee of Toulouse 2011.  He addressed  numerous  members of the press during his first private visit to France. The Dalai Lama stated the reason for his trip is to promote human values and religious harmony, adding he is satisfied over turning over his political and administrative powers to Lobsang Sangay, the newly elected leader of Tibet.

According to the Associated Press, “Now, today I’m just a spiritual person” without political responsibilities, the Dalai Lama said in Toulouse during a talk on meditation that drew thousands of Buddhist followers and others. He also addressed politics in the brief remarks shown on BFM TV. “If the Chinese government gives us meaningful autonomy, genuinely implements the rights mentioned in the constitution or … papers regarding the rights of minorities, sincerely fully implements, then it’s in our interest to remain within the People’s Republic of China.”

Dalai Lama in Toulouse. Photo credit: AP-Manuel Blondeau

Bread glorious Bread: What is happening in France? Is it progress or not?

Jean-Louis Hecht & automated baguette machine. Photo credit: Metro-AFP.

According to BonjourParis News, Paris baker Jean-Louis Hecht may have introduced the bakery of tomorrow with his new automated hot baguette vending machine available round-the-clock outside of his boulangerie in the Paris 19th.

According to TIME , 1,600 baguettes were sold in January when the machine was installed and 4,500 were sold in July. Only you can decide whether or not this is good or bad news.

© Paris New Media, LLC


Posted in Around the World, Paris |

News from France: Lagarde, Noriega, Air France, DSK, Libya

Written by admin on October 24, 2011 – 12:35 pm -

Lagarde under investigation for abuse of power charges

Christine Lagarde, the recently named head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is under the gun for possible fraudulent activities involving the misuse of public funds in 2008, when she was France’s finance minister. According to the Wall Street Journal, the French court has ordered an investigation as to whether or not the  420€ million ($602 million) payment to Bernard Tapie was unjustified.

If Mme Lagarde is found guilty, she could receive a 10-year prison sentence and be fined up to 150,000€, per France24. The IMF board refuses to comment and Christine Lagarde says she won’t resign during the investigation.

France plans to extradite Noriega in SeptemberManuel Noriega   Photo:  Reuters

RFI reports that former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega will be sent from a French prison to his native Panama to serve out prison terms for human rights violations in the 1980s. Noriega, now 77 years of age, has been in a French prison since 2010 for laundering millions of euros in French bank accounts when he was president of Panama. Noriega’s legal representatives say he will not contest the extradition because he wishes to be closer to his family in Panama, according to The Telegraph.

Air France denies Dominique Strauss-Kahn press reports

Dominique Strauss-Kahn can’t stay out of the news. Earlier this week French newspaper Le Parisien reported that lawyers of Strauss-Kahn’s accuser received an anonymous letter saying Air France issued orders that only males should work in the first class area of its jets when Strauss-Kahn travelled.

On Thursday Air France denied it issued this mandate. “Air France formally denies having given any instruction about the composition of its crews,” a spokesman told the news agency.

France will unfreeze $259 million of Libyan assetsLibyan rebel   Photo: Reuters

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said France will unfreeze $259 million of Libyan assets and allow Libya’s National Transition Council (NTC) to use the funds commited to funding humanitarian programs that meet European guidelines, according to Reuters.

The money was confiscated from Muammar Gaddafi and his inner circle. France has been joined by the U.S., Britain and Germany in recognizing the NTC as the official representative of the Libyan people opposing Gaddafi’s regime.

French watchdog group investigating Apple over iPhone privacy concerns

France has launched an investigation into Apple iPhone location tracking. The Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), France’s technology watchdog, said it is investigating privacy issues. Yann Padova, head of the CNIL stated it appears that while the data was definitely collected and stored on the handset, it doesn’t appear as if it was transmitted back to Apple or its commercial partners. This will be a deciding factor in any kind of judgment against Apple, since Apple can claim that it wasn’t collecting or using this information, according to The Inquirer. If Apple is found guilty of wrongdoing the CNIL could follow suit and impose fines.

Rudolf Brazda      AP PhotoMan imprisoned in Nazi camp for being homosexual has died in France

The Daily Mail reports that Rudolf Brazda, the last known male imprisoned at a Nazi concentration camp for being homosexual, died last week. Nazi Germany declared homosexuality an aberration that threatened the German race. An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 gay men were deported to concentration camps; few survived. Brazda was in Buchenwald from 1942-1945 and he lived in Alsace until his death last week.

© Paris New Media, LLC


Posted in Around the World, Paris |