The traffic report for highways in France is called Bison Futé

Traffic report for Highways in France or Bison Futé

Bison Futé or the "Clever Bison", is the national traffic website for Highways in France and now also available as a phone app. The Bison gives the current incident reports (accidents, closures, construction) for all highways in France as well as predictions of traffic volume for holiday weekends. It is a very helpful site for avoiding notorious traffic jams on French roads. But why on Earth is the traffic reporting system called "Bison Futé"? The "clever" part makes sense as the clever traveler avoids traffic, but why the "bison"? Well apparently the alternative suggestions for a mascot were a dolphin, giraffe, bird, and rat, so why not a bison? Bison Futé is an eye-catching, smart, affable American Indian, invented by the publicity man named Daniel Robert in 1976 as a gimic to get people's attention as France rolled out a campaign to encourage people to use alternative routes and depart at different times…

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Why are the European election panels empty of posters?

The European Election is the second biggest election in the world in terms of number of voters, only India has more. The objective is to elect the 751 members of the European parliament, thus it concerns 28 countries. There are 2686 candidates in France alone. Each list from all of the 34 parties presenting candidates must have 79 members alternating strictly between men and women. The lists are organized vertically following their leader. This is a proportional election, so according to the percentage of the vote won by the party the first X candidates of the list will go to parliament. In France a party must have at least 5% in order to win any seats; other countries do not have minimums or have lower minimum percentages. The French lists are required to have 79 members each just in case one list sweeps the vote and thus wins all of France seats (hard to imagine!). There is a complication (not just one) this year stemming from the Brexit. France currently has 75 seats, b…

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Paris Churches of Expat Communities

Paris Churches of Expat Communities - Paris and the region Joining the social fabric in your new home is part of settling in. Of course you want to integrate into France and meet French people, but it is always pleasant, and some would say important, to join fellow expats or folks from your own country to pursue your favorite activities as well. Just like sometimes you need comfort food you also need comfort time in your own language, activities and customs. Churches and synagogues in Paris and the region are great resources providing community, study and discussions, lunches, youth groups, fairs, choirs and volunteer opportunities just like at home. Many schools and universities have alumni clubs in Paris. Here below is a non-exhaustive list of Paris churches of the expat community in the area. For a list of clubs associations see this article  Other ideas and activities for meeting people in this article Worship in your own language: St. George's Anglican Churc…
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Finding a job: Work papers France

Work papers France Finding a job in France most often requires a work permit if you are from an non-EU country. There are several ways to go about this task and none of them are easy or straight forward (rest assured France isn’t picking on you, it is just as difficult for a French person to go to a non-EU country). But here are a few suggestions for the persistent to obtain work papers for France. See our Glossary of French-English Employment terminology For Americans Founded in 1896, the French-American Chamber of Commerce (FACC) is the country’s premier organization for promoting trade and investment between the United States and France. In the spirit of reciprocity and international understanding, the FACC training program for Americans in France brings together qualified young Americans aspiring to work in France, and companies interested in hosting them. The FACC has a visa program for 18-35 year olds who are currently in university studies or have just graduated. …
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Marianne? A new version on the stamp

First of all who the à#@H!! is Marianne? She is one of the symbols, one of the incarnations of France! If you take a minute to look around you'll find her everywhere. On coins, stamps, a bust in every town hall, in sculpture such as in the Pantheon, on official stationery and tax documents as part of the logo of the Republic. There is even a magazine called Marianne, which is independent from the government. She is a version of Lady Liberty and wears a phyrgian cap and sort of Grecian robes usually over one shoulder. The capped female allegory was first used in France at the time of the Revolution to symbolize Liberty. How she got to be called Marianne is uncertain. We do know though that Marie and Anne were very common first names during the 18th century and the contraction often referred to “the people”. Under the Third Republic (1870 and forward) statues and busts of Marianne popped up in nearly every town hall. Sometimes she was sculpted with a diadem or crown rather tha…
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France Expat memoirs

Thinking of moving to France or just want a laugh? France Expat memoirs are good for both. Learn from those who have gone before you and have lived through the trials and jubilations of expat life in France. You can learn from their mistakes and enjoy their anecdotes "right from the horse's mouth". Or just commiserate! There are a lot of  English-speaking expats living in France, and many have written memoirs. Doing this is easier than ever now with self-publishing options. The currently trending France Expat memoirs have been around for a long time beginning its upward climb as a genre with the still wonderful A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle published in 1989. French License by Joe Start Another book about adapting to life in France, but this time from the perspective of the Paris suburbs and through the trial of getting a driver's license. In fact the whole book is one long road trip. We are so relieved when after 262 pages, 10 years or mille bornes Joe finally gets his F…
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Clubs Associations of Expat Paris

Paris Clubs Associations of Expats Joining the social fabric in your new home is part of settling in. Of course you want to integrate into France and meet French people, but it is always pleasant, and some would say important, to join fellow expats or folks from your own country to pursue your favorite activities as well. Just like sometimes you need comfort food you also need comfort time in your own language, activities and customs. Churches and synagogues in Paris are great resources providing community, study and discussions, lunches, youth groups, fairs, choirs and volunteer opportunities just like at home. Many schools and universities have alumni clubs in Paris. Here below is a non-exhaustive list of clubs associations of all types in the expat community in the Paris area. Index :  British Scottish Welsh Norwegian Finnish Swedish Polish Danish German Irish Canadian Australian American Worship in your own language  Paris Churches Other ideas and act…
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A tongue-in-cheek look at the French Education System

If you have children in France, there’s a good chance that you might possess at least the stirrings of the beginnings of a stab at understanding it. Then again, you might not. If you don’t have children in France, there’s a mega-chance that your quest for grasping it will prove even more futile than your search for a short line at La Poste. No, we refer not to The Meaning of Life. We refer to…..the French education-system. So, here is a very incomplete (in the interest of space), extremely simplified (in the battle against cerebral overload) exploration of pedagogy as known and--sometimes not--loved in France and beyond. Which brings us to our first point: the “beyond” part. The French system of elementary, middle and high schools not only graces Gallic soil but also extends throughout the world in what is recognized as a unique offering that accommodates the needs of French expats and follows the same curricula, administers the same tests and delivers the same degrees as …
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How to get to the Paris airports?

How to get to the Paris airports? Going away is always fun ! However, going to the Paris airports can be a lot less fun … It’s always difficult to choose how to get there since there are so many options : bus, metro/RER, taxi…Here are all your best options so that you can easily choose according to your budget, how much time you have, etc. There are 2 main Paris airports – Orly and CDG (Charles De Gaulle) / Roissy so first make sure you know which one you’re going to ! Be careful if you ask someone for directions to get to Charles De Gaulle as you'll have to be a bit more specific... indeed if you ask for Charles de Gaulle some people may send you to Les Champs Elysées thinking you want to go "Charles de Gaulle Etoile metro station" which is on line 1 / RER C by the Arc de Triomphe!! Most Parisians refer to the Paris airport as "Roissy" which is the name of the town is in, so ask them how to get to "Roissy Charles de Gaulle". Confusing! For general Paris airports informa…
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Useful telephone numbers

Useful telephone numbers for France: English speaking, emergency and helpful services. Vocal Spam: Had enough? Make a complaint. Have you ever received an SMS from someone you don't know who invites you to call them back urgently at a number that is costly to call (it might start with 08 or it might be a 4 digit number) or to click a link or respond by SMS to a 5 digit number? You might be alerted that you have a package or that you won something, etc. It is likely to be spam and expensive if you respond. UNlike the spam on your email you can actually report a spam sms. First transfer the message to 33700, they will respond and ask you to then sms the phone number that sent you the sms. Voilà, easy as that to report and if there are enough complaint they spammers will have their phone number cut off! CPAM / Assurance Malade, or “Ameli” which is the French administrative body that manages healthcare has English-speaking service numbers: 36 46 or 08.11.36.3…
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