French word of the day: Printemps (6/4/2023)

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And just like that, it is spring! The French have been making headlines world wide with the retirement strike protests with an added dose of ennuie that no one quite knows what to make of.

And everybody wants to know “is it safe to come to Paris”? In a word, yes. Maybe I’ve been in France for too long, but surely a little fire is not going to put anyone off, is it?

The law to raise the retirement age to 64 has now passed, and the government is desperately trying to move on, while the unions (and the media) are desperately trying to keep it at the forefront.

The strikes are going to continue of course, but a bit of the air has gone out of the balloon with a helpful hand of our neighbors next door, the Spanish armada.

Alright, the armada is actually the socialist Spanish govt. coming to French president Macron’s rescue, but it might as well be a fleet of navy ships. In an unexpected stroke of timing, the Spanish government just last week passed their own retirement law which raises the retirement age to 67. You didn’t hear about it because Spanish unions are actually happy about the new law!

Now, you can slice the cake several different ways pointing out that in France we need 43 working years for a full retirement of around €1400/mth, while in Spain it is 37 years but they also have a lower average pension of around €800/mth. In addition Spanish employers not required to adhere to the 35-hour weeks that we have in France.

Whatever the apples-to-apples comparison is, I’m sure Macron has probably sent his Spanish counterpart a giant box of champagne to thank him. Because in the cacophony of talking media-heads, Macron’s team is not doing so well.

And everybody wants to know “is it safe to come to Paris”? In a word, yes. Maybe I’ve been in France for too long, but surely a little fire is not going to put anyone off, is it?

The law to raise the retirement age to 64 has now passed, and the government is desperately trying to move on, while the unions (and the media) are desperately trying to keep it at the forefront.

The strikes are going to continue of course, but a bit of the air has gone out of the balloon with a helpful hand of our neighbors next door, the Spanish armada.

Alright, the armada is actually the socialist Spanish govt. coming to French president Macron’s rescue, but it might as well be a fleet of navy ships. In an unexpected stroke of timing, the Spanish government just last week passed their own retirement law which raises the retirement age to 67. You didn’t hear about it because Spanish unions are actually happy about the new law!

Now, you can slice the cake several different ways pointing out that in France we need 43 working years for a full retirement of around €1400/mth, while in Spain it is 37 years but they also have a lower average pension of around €800/mth. In addition Spanish employers not required to adhere to the 35-hour weeks that we have in France.

Whatever the apples-to-apples comparison is, I’m sure Macron has probably sent his Spanish counterpart a giant box of champagne to thank him. Because in the cacophony of talking media-heads, Macron’s team is not doing so well.

In other news:

  • The Washington Post reported on the small French town of Bessières which collects 15,000 eggs to turn into a giant omlet for Easter. The Post does not note if proper cooking hygiene standards are followed with so many people cooking.
  • In the “what were they thinking” category, we have French authorities deciding that they will now authorize pyrotechnics and smoke-bombs to be set off in football (soccer) stadiums during games. This would be not by the stadium, but rather enthusiastic fans who “want” to. No word on if the insurance companies have signed off on this new decret.
  • Journalist and sometimes politician Audrey Pulvar notes an interesting video of how there is a mini-farm on top of the Opera Bastille in Paris. (This is the “modern” opera house at Bastille, not the ornate 19th century Opera Garnier.)

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