French word of the week: Col roulé (6/10/2022)

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October is here! And you know what that means, l’hiver arrive. (Winter is coming.) And if you’ve not shopped for your winter wardrobe yet, you may want to take into account the new fashion trend in Paris: le col roulé, aka the turtleneck.

It all started with the fact that it has been an exceptionally chilly autumn here in Paris. And with the war in Ukraine, we’re all watching the news rather warily.

Europe is unfortunately rather dependent on Russian gas and the prices of electricity which go hand in hand, are expected to skyrocket this winter. France has capped prices better than some of our neighbours, but it is still expected to bite:

In order to prepare the population, a couple of days ago the French Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno le Maire, very helpfully suggested that people start wearing turtlenecks everywhere.

Ignoring the snickering on twitter, he then double-downed on his comment and posted a couple of pictures of himself wearing a turtleneck.

Perhaps they were all having an office turtleneck party later, because ensuite French President Macron decided wear a turtleneck while giving a speech as well. (No idea what the speech was about, all the newspaper commentary was about the turtleneck.)

And with that, a new French winter fashion trend is born. It is fall fashion week in Paris after all, so never mind Bella Hadid’s spray-on dress, she ought to have been wearing a turtleneck!

Since then, Macron took his turtleneck parade to Germany as well, perhaps hoping to convert our German neighbors who are even more reliant on Russian gas than the French. (I can’t read German, so I can’t tell you if Chancellor Olaf Scholz has made it a thing over there, or if Macron is on his own.)

All this may sound rather silly, but a lot of towns and businesses across France have already announced that they expect this winter to bite. Some towns have announced they will reduce heater temperatures and turn the lights out earlier than usual in order to save on electricity bills.

The Eiffel Tower is going to turn its lights off at 11:45pm instead of at 1am. Heated swimming pools will be closed on more days and even the famed Champs Elysées may turn off its lights early at Christmas.

One town in Normandy has decided to reduce its heating in schools to 66°F (19°C) in order to save energy, and hand out fleece jackets instead. I don’t know what the word in French for “rolling outages” is, but we don’t really want to find out.

So with all that, the new fashion trend in Paris may really be walking around in ski sweaters, hats, gloves, and those itchy turtlenecks. Except in the Paris metro of course, there you are still guaranteed “balmy temperatures”.

In other news:

  • The White house has invited President Macron for a State visit.
  • President Macron has invited King Charles III for a State visit. (Now Charles has to invite Biden, and the visit-3way will be complete.)
  • The Bloody Mary cocktail was invented 100 years ago in this Paris bar.

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