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NewsletterAugust 2009

Lake Annecy in the Summer

Lake Annecy in July.

The above photo was taken during the Tour de France’s stop in Annecy on July 23. You can see more photos I took on my Flickr page.

Cahiers de vacances

Here’s a French tradition and it has nothing to do with food. Cahiers de vacances (Vacation Workbooks) are bought by French parents so their children don’t forget what was learned during the school year. Cahiers de vacances are just like regular workbooks, with exercises for math, French, history and so on. The only difference is they are for the summer so there are often tie-ins with popular characters like Dora the Explorer. France is by far the Cahiers de vacances sales leader in Europe.
This tradition started by a bookseller in the late 1920s who wanted to sell school books during the summer has now turned into a multimillion euro business that shows no signs of abating. About 5 million Cahiers de vacances are sold per year in France, in a very competitive (i.e. profitable) market. So much so that last year someone had the bright idea to create a Cahiers de vacances for adults, becoming the summer’s bestseller.
The vast majority of Cahiers de vacances are sold from June 15th to July 15th and are for ages 2 to 17. Go into any French supermarket during the summer and you will see many, many Cahiers de vacances for sale.


Yes, you can find even more American culture in the French Alps. After Viva La Clusaz, mentioned in last month’s newsletter, there is La Roche Bluegrass Festival (aka the European Bluegrass Festval)taking place in my home town, La Roche sur Foron from July 29 - August 2 2009. This year there will be some 40 concerts. Best of all they are all free.
Bluegrass first came to La Roche in 2006, interestingly enough the same year I did! This year there will be three American performers - Carrie Hassler & Hard Rain, Sally & Chris Jones and Bob Jones. There will also be acts from throughout Europe including the Czech Republic, with a strong Bluegrass tradition. Bluegrass is similar to Czech folk music.
Listen to past Bluegrass festivals in La Roche.


If you don’t live in France you never heard of the HADOPI law. HADOPI is an acronym for Haute Autorité pour la Diffusion des Œuvres et la Protection des Droits sur Internet (High Authority of Diffusion of the Art Works and Protection of the (Copy) Rights on Internet). The law’s focus is protecting artists from illegal downloading of works on the Internet. Under the law anyone caught downloading copyrighted works, usually songs, is denied Internet access after two warnings.
HADOPI took two attempts to pass and then France’s constitutional struck down the law as unconstitutional. What’s interesting is one of the reasons for the unconstitutional ruling. Legal penalties in France, i.e., stopping Internet access can only be made by a judge. The authority that the HADOPI law creates had the power to penalize someone for downloading copyrighted works. But in France only a judge can do that. This is one of the bases of French law and why in France there is only limited plea bargaining.
The HADOPI law isn’t dead yet as the government has promised to rewrite the unconstitutional parts of the law and resubmit it to a vote in parliament. Wikipedia explains the HADOPI law.

Cutting the VAT

If you have been to France lately you probably noticed lower prices when eating out. On July 1st VAT (value-added tax) in France was cut from 19.6% to 5.5% for restaurants. Result: making meals cheaper and more affordable. This reduction, asked for by restaurants in France for several years finally received approval. One promise (along with lower prices) made by a few restaurant associations was the hiring of new workers.

New Businesses

Here are two recent new businesses that I’d like to mention:
My American Market: Get all your favorite American foods online. American in France readers’ get 10% off all orders, coupon code AIF21.
TheFrenchPaper: Frances's new English language newspaper. I subscribe to TheFrenchPaper and find it very interesting.

This month’s Newsletter is brought to you by:

Les Rossignols: Is a beautiful old Quercy farmhouse built around 1840, near Assier, in the Lot, Midi-Pyrenees. Close to Figeac, the famous medieval riverside market town, there is much to do and see. Three bed and breakfast rooms are available, from a romantic double room with private roof terrace, to a family room for four. The top floor can be rented as a suite of two bedrooms to sleep six, with spa bathroom and sitting room. Close to the wonderful tourist sites of Rocamadour, St. Cirq-Lapopie, the prehistoric caves of Peche Merle, the Dordorgne, Lot and Célé river valleys there is plenty to do. Walk, explore or watch the wonderful birds and wild life, whichever way you can be sure of a fabulous holiday and warm welcome.

Saint Jacques: Is a completely renovated auberge (manor house) in the heart of a charming Solognot village just 15 minutes south of Orléans and 90 minutes from Paris. The auberge has a large living area, a dining room and a bilingual French/English library. For enjoying the kilometres of trails we offer the use of our bikes, also badminton and ping pong are available. Only a few minutes away are several of the Loire Valley castles including Chambord, François 1er's famous hunting castle. Numerous wineries and restaurants along with 5 well-known golf courses are also nearby. Americans in France readers get a 10% discount on B&B accommodation, workshops and special weekends!

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