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Monday, 29 April 2013

Evian's "Water babies" - or are they?

It can't be easy trying to sell something that, when all's said and done, most of us (at least here in France) can all get from a tap.

But French mineral water companies seem to have a knack for being inventive.

Remember a couple of years ago the Contrex (all right, so the company is now a branch of the Swiss group Nestlé, but the product remains French) campaign featuring a pink neon stripper?

Contrex commercial (screenshot from YouTube clip)

It was a great way to make you sit up and take notice every time it appeared on the box.

Contrex has recently followed that up with a similarly amusing exercise-themed approach - this time featuring scantily clad "real firemen".

Contrex commercial (screenshot from YouTube clip)

And then of course there are the 2009 "Evian babies" - something of a phenomenon in the advertising world apparently, notching up  over 67 million views on YouTube (again you can see it here if you wish) and holding true to the company's premise that, "This baby is a symbol of you and how you feel when you experience Evian, and a symbol of the purity of our water."

No comment on the marketing speak!

At least the ad' was original and entertaining, and that's probably why the company has decided to stick with what works in terms of getting its product noticed with its new Baby&Me commercial.

In short, it features a number of adults catching reflections of baby-like versions of themselves in a shop window and breaking into a moment of delirious dance.

Evian "Baby&Me" (screenshot from YouTube clip)

With 40 million views in just over a week, it has already gone viral and there's no doubting that it's a clever ad'...and original too, don't you think?

Except, hang about.

In terms of concept, if not execution, doesn't Evian's new commercial look just a little similar to one that was released in 2012 by the Tunisian mineral water company Safia?

Take a look at both of them and see what you think.

Maybe not so "creative" and "original" after all.


As an extra for those of you who follow and "enjoy" French politics, here's a parody version produced by Canal + "La Nouvelle Edition" and featuring François Hollande, Ségolène Royal, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Jean-Louis Borloo, Nadine Morano and Christine Boutin.


Veuillez installer Flash Player pour lire la vidéo

Friday, 26 April 2013

Jean-Claude Massiou, the French mayor who says he won't marry same-sex couples

The National Assembly has only just voted to allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt (and remember it still has to be approved by the country's Conseil Constitutionnel or Constitutional Council with opponents hoping their appeal will require the bill returning to parliament in a revised form) and already one mayor has said neither he nor any of his elected officials will respect the law.

Jean-Claude Massiou from the centre-right Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (Union for a Popular Movement, UMP) is mayor of the village of Abjat-sur-Bandiat (population 651) in the département of La Dordogne.

Mayor of Abjat-sur-Bandiat, Jean-Claude Massiou (screenshot from website

True to his pre-vote stance when he campaigned against the bill, Massiou insists his views haven't changed, even after Tuesday's parliamentary vote.

If a couple of the same sex living his village ask to be married at the mairie, Massiou says he'll simply refuse "politely" and without any "aggression."

"It's not homophobia or anything," he told a local radio station.

"It's a matter of principle: marriage is between a man and a woman," he continued, seemingly ignorant of the fact that is no longer the case.

And Massiou doesn't seem particularly worried about the possibility of sanctions for breaking the law by discriminating against couples of the same sex and refusing to marry them; maximum three years imprisonment and a fine of €45,000.

"We"ll see what happens because there has been a precedent set when Noël Mamère (the mayor of the Bordeaux suburb of Bègles) conducted a marriage ceremony for two men (in 2004)."

"It wasn't legal (or recognised) but no action was taken against Mamère."

Maybe Massiou should take a leaf out of a fellow UMP mayor (and one who's slightly better-known) Rachida Dati.

She is of course a former justice minister - the position currently held by the woman who had to steer the bill through both chambers of parliament, Christiane Taubira

Just like Massiou, Dati was an outspoken opponent of the bill before it passed but knows how to accept defeat gracefully (well, in this case at least).

Invited on to Wednesday's lunchtime news magazine on Canal + "La Nouvelle Edition" to explain why she had decided to pull out of the race for her party's nomination for mayor of Paris, Dati was also asked to comment on the previous day's vote.

And in particular whether she would, as mayor of the 7th arrondissement of Paris, marry couples of the same sex.

"I'm an elected official and the law has been passed by parliament although it still has to be enacted," she said.

"I represent an arrondissement where there are many opponents to same-sex marriage, but just like them, I shall respect the laws of the republic."

Are you listening M. Massiou?

Perhaps you should follow Dati's example and instead concentrate on organising the event for which your village is apparently better known - the annual French National Conker Championships.

Veuillez installer Flash Player pour lire la vidéo

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Audrey Lamy "Dernières avant Vegas" - French comedy that works

It might be more than stating the obvious, but humour is a personal thing, isn't it?

You either find something funny or you don't.

That said though, when you live abroad and regardless of your language skills or knowledge of cultural references, it can be especially hard to grasp what those around you might find amusing.

For example, if you've ever flipped on the television remote control and watched one of the country's many, many stand-up acts, or have been invited along to the theatre to "enjoy a live show" you might well have found yourself wondering what the heck everyone in the audience was laughing about.

Sure there are some acts out there who raise more than a smile or two as soon as they leap on to the stage, but it's rare to find one as appealing and immediately engaging as actress and comedienne Audrey Lamy.

Audrey Lamy (screenshot from "Dernières avant Vegas" video)

She might not be at the top of her profession yet, but on recent evidence...Lamy's getting there.

Her face might be familiar to some of you. The 32-year-old is one of the stars of M6's runaway early evening comedy show "Scènes de ménages", which features short sketches from the daily lives of four couples.

Lamy appears as "Marion", a 30-something who lives with her other half Cédric (played by Loup-Denis Elion) in a studio apartment.

The short sketch format on TV seems to work well in France and of course helped launch the career of Lamy's older sister Alexandra when she appeared alongside her now-husband Jean Dujardin in France 2's "Un gars, une fille".

A talented family, obviously.

Back to Lamy - Audrey that is - though, who has just come to the end of a one-woman show she has taken around the country over the past three years with not just one, but three dates at the much-revered venue of Olympia in Paris.

As soon as she bounces on to the stage, it's difficult not to be won over.

Lamy engages immediately with the audience, has extraordinary energy which doesn't slow down over the course of one-and-a-half hours and the most infectious of laughs.

There are some magical moments, especially her love affair with a Brad Pitt bottomed frying pan - the sort of sketch that's short, silly and universal enough to appeal.

And there are clear signs that the woman is most definitely multi-talented as alongside the comedy, she also manages to belt out a tune and dance.

If there are any criticisms to be made it would be the need to tighten up some of the material and increase the range of characters she portrays.

Some of the sketches seem overlong with the punch line sometimes being repeated a little too often.

And while Lamy comes across as self deprecating, slightly cranky and a little too loud, it occasionally seems a little to familiar to "Marion" - the role she plays on television.

Lamy has depth and acting ability - evidence of that was on show in her roles in the hit movies "Tout ce qui brille" and "Polisse", films - it just doesn't always come across in her one-woman show.

OK so you've missed her tour in France, but hopefully Lamy will be back with some new material shortly.

And for those who fancy it, there's one date still left to play - in Barcelona on May 25.

In the meantime though, take a look at the accompanying videos for an idea of Lamy's humour.

In the first, she parodies Brad Pitt's dreadful Chanel No. 5 commercial.

The second is a supposed casting (in Franglais) in front of US director Quentin Tarantino - whose name she never quite manages to pronounce correctly - for the role eventually given to fellow French actress Mélanie Laurent in his film "Inglourious Basterds".

Finally there's the blue rabbit...well see for yourselves.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Henri Guaino's lesson on how to vote for same-sex marriage

Isn't there something deliciously comforting in the centre-right Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (Union for a Popular Movement, UMP) parliamentarian Henri Guaino voting in favour on Tuesday to legalise same-sex marriage in France.

After all, by any stretch of the imagination, Guaino could hardly have been described as a fervent supporter of the bill.

Quite the opposite actually.

Henri Guaino (screenshot from YouTube video)

Many and frequent were his statements in opposition to the bill, including most recently a call for those against, to take to the streets in protest against the government's decision to fast-track its final reading.

So how come, when crunch time came on Tuesday afternoon, Guaino voted with the government?

A sudden change of heart maybe or a revelation of some sort?

Neither as it turns out.

The man still described by much of the French media as former president Nicolas Sarkozy's "plume" for his political speechwriting skills might be able to turn a phrase or two with a pen.

But when it comes to pressing a button in an important parliamentary vote it seems he's just not up to the job.

Because Guaino and a fellow UMP party member and former education minister Luc Chatel, both apparently chose the wrong one.

"Did you see what a mess there was," Guaino said afterwards, confirming he had mistakenly voted in favour of the bill.

"I've never seen such chaos," added the first-time parliamentarian who only entered the National Assembly after last year's national elections.

"There were three buttons flashing, and yes, I pushed the wrong one. I'm going to see whether I can have my vote corrected."

Too bad heh?


Thursday, 18 April 2013

Same-sex marriage - France could learn a lesson from New Zealand

It's such perfect timing.

New Zealand parliament (screenshot from YouTube video)
On the day same the National Assembly began its second reading of the bill to legalise same-sex marriage in France, take a look at how parliamentarians in New Zealand reacted to the passing of similar legislation in that country.

It's hard to imagine similar scenes here in France after next week's final vote.

But who knows.

It's most definitely not "a man's world" in the race to be mayor of Paris

The French will go to the polls again next year.

No, it won't be a snap parliamentary election called by the president, François Hollande, although the governing Socialist party will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on the results.

Rather, up and down the country, folk will be choosing mayors and local councillors in the municipal elections.

Oh yes, and if everyone isn't suffering from complete voting fatigue, they'll be able to do it all over again in the European parliamentary elections a couple of months later.

(This might be a good point at which to remind everyone to register and all EU citizens resident here can vote in both).

Anyway, there'll be a great deal of media attention focussed on what happens in Paris next March.

It's not just because the position of mayor of the capital is for some reason "apparently" perceived as a springboard to presidency of the country ("apparently" because in reality only one person in recent history who held the post, later went on to become president - Jacques Chirac).

But also because it's undeniably high profile and prestigious.

The current mayor, Bertrand Delanoë, has been in the job since 2001, but he has ruled out running for a third term, perhaps with more than one eye on entering the national government...should the call come.

So the race is open as to who might succeed him.

His Socialist party has already nominated its official candidate, Delanoë's number two at the moment, Anne Hidalgo.

Anne Hidalgo (screenshot Canal + "La Matinale")

The centre-right opposition Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (Union for a Popular Movement, UMP) is set to hold a primary to choose its candidate, and the choice looks to be a straight one between Rachida Dati and Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet (NKM).

For Jean-Louis Borloo's centrist/centre-right (how confusing) Union des démocrates et indépendants, (Union of Democrats and Independents, UDI), Rama Yade, the former junior minister for human rights under Nicolas Sarkozy, is the person thought most likely to stand.

The current housing minister, Cécile Duflot, is contemplating standing for Europe Écologie – Les Verts (Europe Ecology – The Greens) as is Marielle de Sarnez for the centrist party Mouvement démocrate (Democratic Movement, MoDem).

Yes, in all likelihood the next mayor of Paris - in case you hadn't already noticed - will be a woman.

But which one?

And will the battle for office be to those that have gone before?

"Softer or gentler" just because it'll be between women?

That would be forgetting that the race is, above all else, a political one.

In all probability (not too much neck being stuck out here) the second-round run-off will be between Hidalgo (currently leading in the polls) and NKM.

But that's certainly not how Dati wants things to pan out.

And she might have an unusual political "ally".


Remember the UMP still has to choose its candidate in a primary. And Dati isn't going to give up without a fight.

Dati, a former justice minister and currently a member of the European parliament likes to emphasise her "base" in Paris.

She's mayor of the seventh arrondissement, a safe UMP seat she contested (and unsurprisingly won) in 2008. So that choice bit of party parachuting presumably makes her "Parisian" - in touch with the needs and aspirations of those living there.

Well more so than her opponent in the UMP primary NKM, who has only been an elected representative for a constituency in (horror upon horrors) the outer suburbs of Paris (Essonne, to be exact) since 2002 and mayor of Longjumeau (also in the 'burbs") since 2008.

Now this is where Hidalgo steps in.

Reading between the lines it could be said that Hidalgo would rather have Dati as the UMP's candidate than NKM because, according to opinion polls, beating her would simply be easier.

Why else would she invite Dati and not NKM to join her in the first official debate (on Wednesday)?

"I like debating and it just so happens that we both hold elected positions in Paris (no dig at NKM of course) and are two women with strong convictions able to give their "visions" for the city's future," she told Canal +.

"We've had many discussions in the past and of course don't agree," continued Hidalgo, denying that she was somehow favouring Dati's candidacy over NKM's.

Jean-Marc Germain (screenshot Canal + "La Matinale")

But wait. What was it that a certain member of parliament said on camera just a day ago when asked for his opinion on who would make the better UMP candidate?

"It's not really my place to give advice to the opposition, but if I were, it would be to choose a candidate who's already involved in local politics here in Paris," Jean-Marc Germain said.

"Rachida Dati is someone who has fought to get where she is, and nothing has been handed to her on a plate. It think that's an admirable quality," he continued.

And when asked which UMP candidate he and his wife preferred, Germain answered, "We prefer her (Dati) because she's more involved in local politics in Paris."

Oh yes.

Germain's wife?

Anne Hidalgo.

Veuillez installer Flash Player pour lire la vidéo

Monday, 15 April 2013

François Hollande's approval ratings fall again

The French love their polls.

Er...perhaps that should read the French media loves commissioning polls for readers and viewers.

There are certainly enough published week after week.

And if you believe them - because they're always right, aren't they - the French president, François Hollande isn't exactly what you would call popular at the moment.

Back in February, Hollande's approval ratings fell to just 30 percent, making him "the least popular president for 30 years".

Although those commissioning that particular poll (Le Figaro magazine) and interpreting the figures (Britain's Daily Telegraph) can hardly be said to be among the most pro-Hollande newspapers, the trend is one that has been repeated month after month since he came to power in May 2012.

And the latest poll, this time commissioned by Le Nouvel Observateur - the left-leaning weekly news magazine sometimes described as "the French intellectuals' parish magazine"-  puts those approval ratings even lower - 26 percent.

Not even a recent "charm offensive" as Hollande attempted to "meet and greet" and "press the flesh" in a mini-series of tours around the country, seem to have convinced the French that he really is the man they can trust to see them through the economic difficulties.

And his cause will not have been helped by the most recent front covers of three different weekly magazines to hit the news stands.

Each of them - in their own way - perhaps more cruel than the next and surely illustrating a real disaffection within much of the French media as to Hollande's leadership abilities.

L'Express went with a capitalised "Monsieur Faible". Le Point used Hollande's apparent nickname among Elysée staff to ask whether "'Pépère' est-il à l'hauteur?" while the slightly more "glossy" VSD chose "Hollande l'homme qui n'en savait jamais rien".

It cannot get any worse.

Or can it?

Friday, 12 April 2013

Friday's French music break - Margaux Avril, "Murder on the dance floor"

Friday's French music break this week is from the appropriately named (given the month) 22-year-old Parisian singer Margaux Avril (French for "April" of course) - "Murder on the dance floor".

Margaux Avril (screenshot from "L'air du rien")
Yes it's a song with which you're probably familiar - originally released in 2001 by the British singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor who co-wrote it, and for whom it was a major international hit with an unforgettable and wonderfully naughty and hammed-up video to accompany it.

Need a reminder?

Here it is.

Avril's acoustic version of a song Ellis-Bextor recorded when she was also 22 years old doesn't have the same dance feel to it of course, but the groove remains.

And Avril's voice has that grain of roughness and quality of sound that's maybe missing from her first single currently delighting radio listeners across the country, "L'air de rien".

That's a charming pop number successfully designed to stick in your head (regardless) and which might make you think initially you're listening to a more sugary version of the Canadian singer Cœur de pirate (Béatrice Martin) - but without all those tattoos of course.

Margaux Avril (screenshot from "L'air du rien")
All right, Avril might not be "The Voice" - that's being left to TV viewers to decide in the second series currently airing on TF1.

But she can most definitely sing (and sing well) and has been signed to the French record label AZ - an affiliate of Universal - which should guarantee that she'll at least be able to carve out a reasonable career for herself - if not something more than that.

Some of the acoustic cover versions available on her official site prove she add her own personal touch to songs that have very different musical backgrounds and, more importantly perhaps, that she has a sound other than one "produced" in the studio.

Take a listen to her rendition of French singer Étienne Daho's 1984 hit "Week-end à Rome" for example. Avril definitely breathes new life into a gaspingly awful electro-pop pap.

Or better still there's her version of the excellent US rock group Kings of Leon's "Sex is on fire"

If you want to find out more about Avril's next single "Lunatique" or when and where she's playing, scoot over to her Facebook page.

And while we await the release of her first album, here she is with that promised acoustic version of "Murder on the dance floor" - this week's Friday's French music break.


Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Cécile Duflot has a 1999 Renault Twingo - so what! The "moralisation" of French politics

It's all the rage at the moment

Or perhaps that should be everyone in political circles is raging about it - which isn't necessarily the same thing.

The decision by the French president, François Hollande, for politicians to come clean to the public by declaring how much they're worth.

Government ministers will set the ball rolling in a campaign which has been dubbed the "moralisation of politics".

They have until April 15 to tell us all exactly how much they're worth and whether they pay wealth tax.

And of course this being France, Hollande is also proposing to introduce a new law which would force all elected officials to disclose publicly their individual wealth and family assets, while coming down harder on those who lie or fail to tell the complete truth.

It's all something of a typical knee-jerk reaction to the tax evasion scandal surrounding former budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac.

The junior minister in charge of disabled people, Marie-Arlette Carlotti, was the first to list her assets, when she published them on her blog. Apartments, house, life insurance policies, bank accounts and vehicles - fascinating stuff.

Likewise for housing minister, Cécile Duflot, where we learn that among other things, she has a 1999 Renault Twingo!

Carlotti and Duflot have also been joined by some members of the opposition centre-right Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (Union for a popular movement, UMP) eager perhaps to show us all that...while not exactly poor, at least how "normal" (and like the rest of us) they really are.

Former prime minister François Fillon, although not wholeheartedly in favour of a need for a law, appeared on prime time television news on Monday to reveal that he wasn't rich enough to pay wealth tax.

"I own a house in the Sarthe (his former constituency) which I bought with a mortgage 20 years ago for €440,000. Today it's worth around €650,000," he told France 2's anchor David Pujadas.

There's less than €100,000 on my savings account and I have two cars, both of which are older than 10 years," he added, (conveniently) forgetting to make any mention of the shares he has in a private consultancy.

Another former minister Laurent Wauquiez also "went public", insisting that the Cahuzac affair proved there was a real need for transparency to show the French that they could trust their elected representatives.

"We're elected to defend the public interest," he said in an interview with Le Journal du dimanche.

"And we shouldn't be in politics to 'make money'."

The UMP party president, Jean-François Copé, is among those who say they won't be disclosing their wealth publicly - unless it's made law.

For him, the idea is pure "voyeurism" and "hypocrisy" as well as "an attempt by François Hollande to create a smoke screen around the fact that one of his ministers committed fraud and then lied about it."

Of course Copé has a point. Cahuzac's behaviour in the run-up to his admission - when he looked journalists and fellow politicians "straight in the eye" and swore that he had no secret bank accounts abroad - is evidence that if someone is going to lie in order to cover up, then creating a law will probably not stop them.

Plus there's already a wealth (ouch) of laws on the books to deal with those who are caught.

Is yet another one really necessary?

And where is the line to be drawn.

If members of government and perhaps all politicians are required to disclose their assets, then why not all elected officials and those who influence policy and public opinion at every level: union leaders, journalists, the judiciary?

Finally of course there's the implication that if you're unwilling to disclose your personal wealth, you must have something to hide, and anybody out there really interested in the fact that Cécile Duflot drives a 1999 Renault Twingo?

Time for a spot of music maybe.

What would you like? "If I were a rich man" from "Fiddler on the roof" perhaps.

Or Abba's "Money, money, money"?

Oh all right then - both.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Valérie Trierweiler - the French president's "first bodyguard"

Valérie Trierweiler hasn't had an easy time with the media since François Hollande came to power.

And finding the right title for a woman filling a role which, although it doesn't officially exist, has in the past been one whereby the spouse would most likely devote herself to philanthropy and charity work all the while steadfastly supporting her husband, has been equally difficult.

The image - at least the one portrayed by her puppet in the popular satirical programme "Les Guignols" - is one of a dominating woman who doesn't suffer fools gladly and has her buffoon of a better-half firmly under her thumb.

It might be an exaggerated and not entirely accurate representation, but it's one that sticks.

Valérie Trierweiler (screenshot from "Les Guignols")

As does a term coined during campaigning for the presidential elections last year, when a member of the centre-right Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (Union for a Popular Movement, UMP), Lionnel Luci, dubbed her "Rottweiler".

Perhaps Trierweiler hasn't helped herself, either in terms of how she's perceived or what she is supposed to be called.

The weekly news magazine, L'Express, nicknamed her the "minister of jealousy" back in June 2012 when she made that infamous Tweet in support of Olivier Falorni, the rival to Ségolène Royal in the parliamentary elections.

CNN didn't know quite how to describe Trierweiler when she accompanied Hollande on his first official trip to the United States shortly after taking office. The couple aren't married and there's no sign from either of them that the knot is going to be tied any time soon (if at all).

In the end the channel plumped for "first girlfriend".

In October last year Trierweiler announced she would be involving herself more in that catch-all term "humanitarian affairs" - mainly with children - and that it would take precedence over her work as a journalist.

She continues to write for Paris Match - but only on culture rather than politics.

Everything seemed to be settling into a more-or-less familiar "first lady" pattern.

Except last weekend there was an "incident" which brought back memories of why Luca's "Rottweiler" insult still resonates.

Trierweiler accompanied Hollande to Tulle, the town in which he used to be mayor and member of parliament.

It was the chance for the French president to gather his thoughts - albeit briefly - from the previous week's revelations in the Cahuzac affair and recharge the batteries in a place where he's apparently still liked.

At one point Hollande, complete with security detail of course, decided to go walkabouts and meet and greet.

Trierweiler was there too - not so much to smile sweetly and press some flesh: more to show how heavy her hand could be when the cameras got a little to close (for her liking) to her other half.

Keep a close eye on what happens at 40 seconds on the accompanying video from Monday evening's "Le Petit Journal" on Canal +.

It's surely Trierweiler at her "bodyguard" best.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Whatever happened to François Hollande's camel? The answer

As if you needed reminding, things aren't going too well for the French president, François Hollande, at the moment.

The Cahuzac affair and low poll ratings aside, there's another example of just how bad things have become.

The fate of the "presidential" camel.

No, not a reference to anyone in particular at the Elysée palace, but rather the gift from the people of Mali back in February to the French president as a "thank you" to Hollande for "liberating" the country.

Remember how during a visit to Timbuktu, Hollande was somewhat upstaged by the bellowing from the young camel (or dromedary to be entirely accurate) and promised - none too seriously - that he would, "use it as a means of transportation as often as possible."

Plans to have the animal shipped back to France though, came to nothing and instead the Powers That Be decided it would better off remaining in Mali and being looked after by a local family.

Except - the least that can be said - is that things don't appear to have turned out very well for the camel.

As reported in the French media, the defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, who among his many, very important responsibilities has been charged with giving the government weekly updates on the camel's well-being, was informed last week that it was no longer with us.

It had been eaten.

No comment from the Elysée palace yet.

But for those who wish to remember the animal's Warhol-like 15 minutes of fame, here's that video from February again.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

French Socialist party's embarrassment and anger at Jérôme Cahuzac

The so-called Cahuzac affair has been dominating domestic headlines ever since the former budget minister, Jérôme Cahuzac, admitted earlier this week that he had lied (to everyone and very publicly) about having a foreign bank account.

Left, Right and Centre have pitched in to have their say in a matter that touches them all regardless of their political hue.

The French media has taken a very long and hard look at who knew what - or not - and if so, when.

While there's no denying the "moral indignation" expressed in many of the headlines, the scandal of a minister responsible for fighting fraud being allegedly culpable of it himself is not exactly unknown in French politics.

Just think former finance minister Hervé Gaymard and his luxury public-funded Paris apartment in 2005, or former budget minister Éric Woerth  and his "conflict of interests" in the "Woerth-Bettencourt" affair involving his wife Florence in 2010 or, or, or.

Heck, Wikipedia - for all its faults - has a whole page listing them over the decades.

Take a look and trace them backwards perhaps.

Inevitably the president, François Hollande, responded in a manner typical of French leaders. 

He announced the fast-tracked introduction of a new "stable-door-horse-bolted" law on the "publication and control" of ministers' wealth.

Among all the reactions though, perhaps two stand out.

They came shortly after Cahuzac made his admission from two members of his (now former) party; prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and trade unionist Gérard Filoche.

Gérard Filoche (screenshot LCI)

Tight-lipped and embarrassed, Ayrault answered the questions put to him on France 2's prime time news, sending out signals of the near-complete incompetence we've come to expect.

Meanwhile over on the all-news channel LCI, Filoche - not encumbered by the responsibilities of high office perhaps - was able to express freely and emotionally just how he felt and more importantly the sense he had that the French had been betrayed.

It doesn't matter what your level of French is, you can see from the gestures and the facial expressions of the two men just how shocked both were.

Somehow though, you can't help wishing that Ayrault had shown just a little more of Filoche's genuine passion.

If you cannot endure watching nine minutes of Ayrault, at least check out the one featuring Filoche.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Ségolène Royal - a French fashion icon!

Is that the gnashing of teeth that can be heard at the Elysée palace?

No not from the French president, François Hollande, over the admission by former budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac on his blog - of all things - that he had lied about having squirrelled money away in a foreign bank account (and a tidy little sum it was too - €600,000).

That would be far too a serious political issue upon which to focus.

Besides it has been covered extensively elsewhere.

As has the fact that Cahuzac apparently informed Hollande of his decision to come clean by SMS (how very 21st century) and speculation over the repercussions for a party seemingly as clueless about a high-ranking member's financial shenanigans as it was when it came to the "trysts" of a certain DSK.

Rather the chopper grinding is probably being emitted from the other half of the first couple, Valérie Trierweiler (who incidentally is still exorcising - sic -  her chosen profession as a "journalist" over at the pages of the weekly (cough, cough) "news"  magazine Paris Match).

What exactly might be "sticking in her craw" (just to go full pelt, idiomatically speaking) you might be wondering.

Well of course it all has to be the latest news from her predecessor as Hollande's Better Half.

You see, that well-informed and cutting edge daily The Guardian has just released a totally objective and thoroughly-researched "Top 50 of the best-dressed over 50s".

And guess who makes it in at number 29...

Ségolène Royal!

"Shoulder-length hair that is youthful, not helmet-like. A jacket and dress in contrast colours. A white shirt with a silk scarf. How do the French make this style look so easy?" is how a svelte Seggers is described to readers of the UK national daily.

All right so Royal might not be up there with the likes of Helen Mirren ("numéro un" or rather "une" apparently) but she's only one of three French women to rank: the former editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris, Carine Roitfeld (who might not appreciate being described as "The only woman on Earth who looks a bit like Iggy Pop, but in a good way") is at number three, Catherine Deneuve at number 12, and Emmanuelle Riva at number 14.

But there she is in all her not-so batty Socialist glory ranking alongside He of the big lips and wiggly hips, Mick Jagger.

Way to go Seggers.

Thank goodness the editors didn't see her in her heyday 2008 One Woman Bercy show perhaps. Not her greatest fashion success.

Ségolène Royal au Zénith : Extraits par segolene-royal-videos

Given her newly-acquired trend-setting fashion status, perhaps Royal could help out a floundering government when Hollande decides to have a proper reshuffle.

She could maybe start with a few tips on appropriate hair colouration tips.

After all that excitement, how about some music.

Here's Maroon 5 ft Christina Aguilera with "Moves like Jagger".

Or Key of Awesome's parody.

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