No country in the world is perfect and that includes France. Here are one or two or perhaps three things that need some work…
On a trip to Lithuania I lost my ‘carte vitale’ (the green card which enables you to get 70% of your medical bills paid for by the French government). When I went to the social services to get a new one, the receptionist was friendly and it seemed it wouldn’t be a problem until… she told me I was dead. ‘Dead?’ ‘Yes, dead. You died on the 24th of January 2005.’ As a result, my card was then blocked. I explained that I wasn’t dead, which she admitted seemed to be true and called someone else to ask what to do. I needed to get a new birth certificate, dated after the 24th of January 2005, to prove that I am not dead. And if I can get that, it would still take another 3 months for me to get another carte vitale. The only thing that is certain in life is death and taxes. I was in the strange position of having died, yet still paying tax.
In 2004 SNCF, the French railway company, paid 4 million euros to change its logo from to . This is because for years people have been telling SNCF: “Your service is briiliant, trains always punctual, no strikes, excellent facilities for cyclists and the handicapped and your prices are so reasonable. In fact the only thing that holds you back, is your crap logo…”
Dodgy politicians – and the public accepts them
According to a reliable source, Jacques Chirac gave each of his ministers 15,000 euros a month to cover ‘extra expenses’. When Chirac was accused of a scandal, French journalists spend days analysing his language, rather than the allegations against him. France does not have a Jeremy Paxman. It is very sad to watch sycophantic television journalists hanging on a politician’s every word.
Attitudes to the war
“Ah yes, we had it tough during the war…” I have a Polish friend who is incensed when she hears such comments from the French. Interesting fact: At the end of World War Two, there were 106 haute couture establishments in Paris alone. How many were left in Warsaw…?
On a recent French quiz programme the contestants were asked: How many French soldiers took part in the Normandy landings during the Second World War? The first couple suggested 18,000. The second couple thought the figure would be higher. The answer? 177.
Fois gras? Very popular, particularly in the South West of France. Lots of happy ducks quack quacking around? Er, no. There are moves to ban the practice of forcing grain down the necks of geese, but it won’t happen here for a long time.