French word of the week: Merde (29/6/2022)

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Every week I start to write this newsletter, aiming for a lovely interesting topic about La Belle France, but lately the topics have been anything but “lovely”. Lately it just seems to be taken over by current events that are impossible to ignore. Ostriches as a species are perfectly fine, but do we really want to imitate them!?

Because we don’t live in a bubble of wine and cheese, President Macron issued an official statement:

The French newspaper La Liberation put out a powerful front page cover drawn by award-winning Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Corinne Rey, aka Coco, reimagining the American flag (warning: graphic).

Macron’s govt. also quickly declared they will take steps to enshrine women’s rights in the French constitution. They perhaps have the votes to do so, as the left-leaning parties in the legislative assembly have declared that they had the idea first(!). We assume they will put the bickering aside to get it done together.

France isn’t a bastion of liberal rights as one might assume, women only got the right to vote here in 1944, compared to the U.S., Canada, U.K., Netherlands, Austria, and Germany all getting it around 1918.

And I’ve been here long enough to remember the large anti-demonstrations in 2013 during the “mariage pour tous” debate (meaning “marriage for all”) when the France authorized gay marriage. Human rights are seemingly more fragile than it would first appear.

“Never forget that a political, economical or religious crisis will be enough to cast doubt on women’s rights. These rights will never be vested. You’ll have to stay vigilant your whole life.” 

— Simone de Beauvoir, renowned French writer and feminist.

So the centrists and socialists are hoping to “make hay while the sun shines” as the saying goes, because in last week’s French legislative elections, the Ultra-right RN party broke through a glass ceiling and now hold an astonishing 16% of seats as the main opposition. (In French, the saying would be “il faut battre le fer quand il est chaud” meaning “One must bend the iron while it is hot”.)

Will the govt manage to put their differences aside to get something done? These are politicians, so really it is anyone’s guess. The French right is suspiciously silent at the moment, so we shall see. Anyway, “Merde” means sh*t”, and you can find more appropriate curse words in French here.

In other news:

  • Tourists to Paris are complaining that so many of the monuments and attractions are under construction, it is ruining their photos (link in French). Yes, even the Eiffel Tower is under construction, le sigh.
  • Different regions of France speak French differently, so Waze has come up with a new way to try to gain favor with the Marseillais, by now giving out directions in a distinctly southern French accent:

(Marseille once was not a part of France, and had its own language Provençale. Provençale was wiped out by King François I who feared was being used to subvert his rule, so he made French compulsory. These days, not many locals speak provençale, but their sing-song cadence of speech continues.)

And new in the blog:


42 Best Souvenirs from France

Find out the best souvenirs from France, why they are so popular, which region they come from, where to buy, and more.

7 Best beaches in Marseille

Get to know the best beaches in Marseille, which are popular with both tourists and locals. With tips on how to get there, and more.

Tarte Soleil (Sun pie appetizer)

This delicious savory puff pastry called a “tarte soleil” makes for a lovely French appetizer that can be served as finger food on any occasion.

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A bientôt!


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