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NewsletterOctober 2011

Longest Table in France?

I saw this table during Journées européennes du Patrimoine - European Heritage Days last month at the William-Morrey Hospital in Chalon-sur-Saône. This 19th century table is 21 feet long and almost 6 feet wide. The parquet top is done ‘à la Versailles.’ On the table were two plate-pushers used to pass dishware. With a table so big one couldn’t just hand over the next course without some help! In an adjoining room there was a cupboard almost the length of the table.
I also discovered during my visit to the hospital’s ‘new’ pharmacy built in 1786 that Mille-feuille is not just a pastry but also a plant once used for medicinal purposes.

War of the Buttons - War of the Movies

Believe that only Hollywood likes to milk a good idea? Well French cinema can and does. French film goers now can see either: La Guerre des boutons or La Nouvelle Guerre des boutons. Both films are based on a novel by Louis Pergaud and were produced separately. Sadly Pergaud died in WWI.
The novel is about children from two villages, who fight a make believe war. Those captured, suffer the humiliation of losing their buttons before being send home.
A review of both films points out, by releasing both movies almost simultaneously attendance should increase. During the last week of September, La Nouvelle Guerre des boutons followed by La Guerre des boutons were one and two at French box offices.
These two movies are just the latest releases of the Buttons War Movies. Two other French editions were in 1937 and 1962. There was also an Irish edition in 1994.

Left Turn

For the first time in the fifth republic, the French senate has a leftwing majority. Voting on September 25th confirmed what was expected, the left pickup the needed seats to have a majority. The left ended up winning 25 seats. In the senate elections of 2004 and 2008 the left picked up 14 and 21 seats respectively.
On October 1st, in what’s called the third round, Socialist Jean-Pierre Bel, was elected senate president. The senate president is first in line to the French presidency. Should the president resign or no longer be able to perform his duties the senate president steps in until a new president can be elected.
The French senate has less power than the national assembly. The assembly has final say on all legislation. The present government can continue advancing most legislation. The one piece of legislation that is dead, is amending the French constitution to include a balanced budget amendment. President Nicolas Sarkozy was pushing the bill to appease financial markets. A constitutional bill in France must pass both the senate and national assembly, and then be approved by a special joint session of both houses before enactment. Socialist are against a balanced budget amendment.
Most newspapers in France view this as a big defeat for Sarkozy. And that’s true. But what’s also true is this victory was largely built on the left losing the last two presidential elections.
In French senate elections only ‘grand electors’ can vote. These grand electors are mostly municipal, regional and departmental councilors, elected in local and regional elections. Since 2004 the left has done very, very well. Why has the left done so well? Because these elections tend to be when French voters express their dissatisfaction with the president and his governing party. That’s really helped the left over the last 7 years aas it's been in opposition during this time. Meaning it has been able to build a large base of grand electors who voted, on September 25 and voted as expected.


Ultimate Paris Guide: Is a private concierge started in April 2011 that offers specialized and personalized services in Paris and the rest of France.
Practical Paris & Top 100 Cheap Insider Paris Restaurants: Both books are by American expat Adrian Leeds, who has lived in the city of light since 1996. Over the years she has discovered much about Paris and is passing it on.
Château de Balleure: A 14th century château in the Burgundy countryside. One of the owners, Nicole Balvay was nice enough to give me a personal tour. Not only is Chateau de Balleure a nice place to stay, but also Nicole can take you to local markets. Then once back at the château Nicole can help you cook what you just bought! French lessions are also offered.

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