Two hostage sites stormed in France

January 10th, 2015 at 6:54 am by David Farrar

The BBC reports:

French police have stormed two hostage sites in Paris and north of the city, with the hostage takers reported dead.

Explosions were heard at a warehouse in Dammartin-en-Goele, where two suspects in the Charlie Hebdo magazine shootings had been holding one hostage.

Explosions and gunfire could also be heard at a supermarket in eastern Paris, at Porte de Vincennes, where several hostages were held.

Reports suggest a gunman there was linked to the Charlie Hebdo suspects.

After the operation started, several hostages could be seen leaving the supermarket.

Police told French media that four hostages in the supermarket had been killed prior to security forces storming the site.

It’s great that the Charlie Hebdo killers are no longer a threat, and their hostage was unharmed. Sadly it seems there was innocent loss of life in the other hostage situation. Three terrorists are dead, but at this stage Hayat Boumeddiene is at large, and wanted for the killing of a police woman.

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French Minister says women have a duty to wear bikinis at the beach!

August 24th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

It is a French woman’s duty to wear a bikini on a beach, says the former minister for families, Nadine Morano.

Ms Morano, 51, provoked a political row yesterday by complaining that she had seen a Muslim woman sitting on a French beach in headscarf, long-sleeved tunic and trousers while her husband stripped off and bathed in the sea.

“When you choose to come to a country of secular laws like France, you have an obligation to respect our culture and the liberty of women. Or you go somewhere else,” Ms Morano wrote on her Facebook page.

I never realised bikinis were compulsory in France!

I am pro-bikini but as a classical liberal I do not support it being mandatory :-)

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France’s unbeatable deficit

April 4th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

AP reports:

France’s new finance minister says he wants to renegotiate the speed at which France cuts its budget deficit to limits set by the European Union.

Michel Sapin told French radio station France Inter on Thursday that the 3 percent deficit France has promised its European partners to achieve by 2015 remains the target, but that the “rhythm” at which it is achieved should be discussed.

Sapin, who is taking over as finance minister from Pierre Moscovici, says renegotiating the target “is in the common interest of Europe.”

France missed its deficit target last year and has repeatedly pushed back the date by which it will bring its finances into line with European limits. Its deficit last year was 4.3 percent.

The joys of tax and spend policies.


Even the French socialists now supporting tax cuts and spending restrictions

January 23rd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The NY Times reports:

President François Hollande startled the usually staid world of European economic policy with proposals to take France in a centrist direction with tax cuts for companies, reductions in public spending and a business-friendly tone.

That’s a huge turn-around. His initial policies were to massively hike taxes and spending. They have been a disaster, and his popularity at an all time low. So good to see a retreat from them.

Mr. Hollande’s proposals include a cut in payroll taxes that he said would reduce the costs of business and independent workers by 30 billion euros ($41 billion) by eliminating the amount paid by companies and independent workers for the family allocation, a tax that finances an allowance for each child after the first as well as an array of other family benefits.

The family allocation and other benefits are core elements of France’s social programs and have been credited with contributing to it having one of the highest birthrates in Europe. The allowance is income blind, going to all French families.

Mr. Hollande also said he would cut spending by €50 billion but did not specify where.

30 billion of tax cuts and 50 billion of spending cuts. It’s a start.

The current policies have been a disaster. Quarterly economic growth for France for the last ten quarters is below and NZ is in brackets:

  1. 0% (0.8%)
  2. 0.2% (0.9%)
  3. 0.1% (0.7%)
  4. 0% (0.9%)
  5. -0.2% (0.2%)
  6. 0.2% (0.2%)
  7. -0.2% (1.3%)
  8. -0.1% (0.5%)
  9. 0.6% (0.3%)
  10. -0.1% (1.4%)


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Even racists shouldn’t be banned

January 13th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

In a move with no precedent in recent French history, the socialist Government of President Francois Hollande last week secured approval in a top court to preventatively ban a show by a man it characterises as the “pedlar of hate”.

The target for the wrath is a so-called alternative comedian, Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, who specialises in crude jokes about Jews.

I love jokes about Jews – so long as the jokes are motivated by humour, not hatred. The intention is key.

He clearly hates Jews. He recently said that when he thinks of a prominent French Jewish radio journalist he thinks “Gas chambers … too bad”.

However trying to ban his shows is not the way to go It increases his fringe popularity. If he breaks the law he can be held accountable for that (and has been), but pro-active banning of a performance is a bad precedent.

The show that was outlawed had been in preview performances, where it included a sketch in which the comedian pretends to urinate against a wall, and then reveals it is the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, the holiest site in Judaism.

I’d just reflect that if he did a show which includes him urinating on The Koran, he would probably be dead by now.


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How is socialism going in France

November 3rd, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Seeing Labour has just voted to refer to itself as a socialist party, it seems worthwhile to look how socialism is going in France.  Milton Ezrati writes at National Interest:

More than one thousand factories have closed in France since 2009. And not a week goes by without another announcement of relocations to Eastern Europe or Asia. Rates of new business formation today remain 13.3 percent lower than at the end of 2009, while business failures are 7 percent higher. The pace of home sales, though it seems to have stopped declining, shows no sign of improvement and remains 16 percent below 2008 levels. Residential real-estate prices continue to decline. Unemployment rolls have grown without interruption, recently averaging some 10.5 percent of the nation’s workforce. Youth unemployment averages over 26 percent. Real wages in France, having stagnated for some time, have declined for the last four consecutive quarters. The country’s balance of international payments continues to sink deeper into the red, with the shortfall of exports to imports almost doubling in just the past year to almost 3 percent of GDP. Government finances, too, continue in deficit, far exceeding the EU’s mandated maximum of 3 percent of the economy. Budget shortfalls over the years have brought public debt outstanding to fully 90 percent of France’s GDP.

Sounds like a worker’s paradise. Businesses failings, jobs disappearing, real wages dropping and a huge level of debt.

French government spending has continued to grow, rising almost 4 percent during the last two years. Government in France now constitutes some 57 percent of the entire economy, well above the euro zone’s average. 

I can only assume NZ Labour aspires to this with nationalisation of electricity, state owned construction companies, state owned insurers all to be set up.

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France revolts against new taxes

October 23rd, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Daily Telegraph reports:

A poll on the front page of last Tuesday’s Le Monde, that bible of the French Left-leaning Establishment (think a simultaneously boring and hectoring Guardian), translated into stark figures the winter of François Hollande’s discontent.

More than 70 per cent of the French feel taxes are “excessive”, and 80 per cent believe the president’s economic policy is “misguided” and “inefficient”. This goes far beyond the tax exiles such as Gérard Depardieu, members of the Peugeot family or Chanel’s owners. Worse, after decades of living in one of the most redistributive systems in western Europe, 54 per cent of the French believe that taxes – of which there have been 84 new ones in the past two years, rising from 42 per cent of GDP in 2009 to 46.3 per cent this year – now widen social inequalities instead of reducing them.

I guess this is what people mean when they vow to over-turn neo-liberalism. 84 new taxes!

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France drops three strikes

July 12th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The BBC reports:

France has halted an anti-piracy policy that threatened persistent offenders with internet bans.

A law passed by the previous government had let local courts suspend copyright infringers’ connectivity for up to a month if they were caught three times.

It was supported by the entertainment industry, but France’s current culture minister had said that she thought the penalty was “disproportionate”.

File-sharers still face fines of up to 1,500 euros ($1,923; £1,292).

The government added that it would now focus its efforts on sites that made money from offering illegally copied content rather than individual users.

Suspension is disproportionate. Good to see France call a halt to it.

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France has a triple dip recession

May 17th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

This week France just achieved the rare distinction of undergoing a triple dip recession.

A year ago France elected a socialist President. Since then the French economy has shrunk for three out of four quarters, with the overall economy 0.5% smaller than a year ago. That compares to around 3% annual growth in New Zealand.


Another secret foreign bank account scandal

April 8th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Radicals both right and left are sensing that France’s political tide is rising in their favour, driven by a President plumbing record unpopularity less than a year after taking office.

Francois Hollande, a Socialist already under fire for economic mismanagement, is bogged down in a scandal unleashed by his Budget Minister, Jerome Cahuzac.

Svelte and smooth-tongued, Cahuzac had been leading Hollande’s campaign to fill the state’s coffers by raising taxes, urging citizens to pay their fiscal dues as “solidarity” towards others.

Last week, Cahuzac quit after admitting he had had a secret bank account in Switzerland for decades.

David Shearer is lucky he remembered about his foreign bank account while he was Opposition Leader. Imagine the impact if he been a Minister or Prime Minister and it emerged.

Hollande romped to the presidency on May 6 on campaign promises to govern France competently, fairly and cleanly. He declared he would roll back unemployment, meet the EU’s targets on borrowing and, after decades of scandals embroiling both left and right, give France an “exemplary” government.

Today, his approval rating stands at only 27 per cent, the lowest of any president in modern French history at such an early point in his tenure.

Unemployment has risen like an express lift, affecting 3.188 million people, or nearly one in nine of the workforce – a tad short of a record set in 1997.

The budget deficit is 4.8 per cent of GDP, compared to Hollande’s pledge, since abandoned, to meet the EU’s limit of 3 per cent last year.

Public debt rose in 2012 to an astronomical 90.2 per cent of GDP, compared with 85.8 per cent in 2011 – and Hollande’s own target of 89.9 per cent.

Socialism doesn’t work. He’s hiked taxes and spending, and I think Labour’s housing plan is based on his pledge to build 500,000 homes a year.

To get some idea of how unpopular he has become, Reuters reports that National Front Leader Marine Len Pen has a higher approval rating than Hollande.

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A popular politician

February 5th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Josie Pagani blogs at Pundit:

The most popular politician in France is Manuel Valls, the interior minister in Francois Hollande’s Socialist government.  While the President has an approval rating around 40 per cent, Monsieur Valls’ rating tops 75 per cent. Three quarters of the country loves him…and the other quarter are from his own party: Only 6% of his Socialist party like him. His own party call him a ‘Sarkozy of the left’ and a French Tony Blair. He could be the next Socialist president. The tangle has some resonance for left parties in every developed liberal democracy. The ideological cul de sac always results from asking working people for their vote but not their values. Monsieur Valls’ insight is that, when voters express concern about crime in the banlieue (suburbs), or support French military intervention against jihadist terrorists in Mali, they are actually motivated by left wing values – and the left should not abandon these topics to the right, as if only the right had a monopoly on what’s popular. He argues he is motivated by principle. Being tough on crime is consistent with left ideology. He once wrote in a book, ‘far from being illiberal, a hard stance on order and authority is the best guarantor of individual freedom.’ He’s not rejecting socialist principle, he is acting on it, he says.

And the lessons for NZ:

So consider left doctrine about crime, tax and welfare in New Zealand. Orthodoxy says the left should try to avoid these issues and stick to asking ‘but where are the jobs?’ To do otherwise, goes the doctrine, is to buy in to right wing ‘framing’ and ‘narrative’ as if potential left votes might be lured into a dreamworld of false consciousness from which the left’s only options are to persuade them they are wrong, or be less than frank about our real intentions.  Spotters of doctrinal error label any attempt to deviate from this line, ‘selling out’ and flirting with ‘Rogernomics’ or ‘Blairism’, as if opposing crime also implies you want to invade Iraq and hock off public assets.  The trouble with doctrine is it makes policy debate stale. It prevents the left from presenting the solutions of the future by locking it into the debates of the past.Fear of debate, and attempts to marginalise and demonise anyone who questions the doctrine, are actually revealing of a crisis of confidence in the left’s own principles

I don’t think we need to think hard about where those comments could be directed.

When the left is out of tune with voters on welfare or crime, or terrorism, it is policy and not the left’s values that are out of tune with the public. And that means having the courage to reform policy, make it practical and relevant, even when the choices are hard. What keeps parties in opposition is when absolutism gets confused with principle.  Ironically, US commentators have pointed out this same error is keeping the Republican Party in opposition. Speakers at a Republican conference recently were told not to talk about rape after the disasters during last year’s election when candidates like Todd Akin talked about ‘legitimate rape’. How can a conservatively moralising party get itself into a position where it can’t stand up and say clearly ‘we are against rape no matter who does it or how it occurs?’  It’s as absurd as the parties that invented welfare feeling unable to talk about reform and improvement of it.

Sensible food for thought for the left.

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Socialism in France

November 3rd, 2012 at 12:54 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

He has now broken the record as the most unpopular French president at the six-month mark of a mandate. Only 36% of French people have confidence in Hollande, according to the latest poll by TNS-Sofres for Le Figaro magazine. By comparison, the rightwing Nicolas Sarkozy had 53% approval ratings six months after his election in 2007.

Normally the first six months are a honeymoon. This is unprecedented.

By contrast, Hollande’s opinion poll nose-dive is not about personal animosity – he has kept up his image as a modest president – it’s his politics, specifically his way of doing politics, which is under attack. The Socialist leadership and government is seen as confused, accused by its opponents of amateurism and inaction. Even the leftwing daily Libération recently dubbed Hollande and his prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault “The Apprentices”.

Coming to a theatre in NZ in 2014 possibly :-)

Hollande and Ayrault are pushing through France’s harshest budget for 30 years – and despite telling voters that nine out of 10 of them wouldn’t feel the pinch of higher taxes aimed mostly at the rich and big business, public opinion clearly does fear it will feel the pain.

The proposed taxes are a 75% top income tax rate plus increases to capital gains tax to over 50%.


The French want to tax search engines

October 31st, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

French President Francois Hollande is considering a pushing for a new tax that would see search engines such as Google have to pay each time they use content from French media.

Hollande discussed the topic with Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, during a meeting in Paris on Monday.

Hollande says the rapid expansion of the digital economy means that tax laws need to be updated to reward French media content.

Oh yes, lets tax the service that allows us to find content on the Internet. Moron.

Google has opposed the plan and threatened to bar French websites from its search results if the tax is imposed.

As they should. Imagine the howls of complaints. Would get the Government tossed from office in days.

Germany is considering a similar law, and Italian editors have also indicated they would favour such a plan.

I’m sure they do. Clinging to a failed business model.

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The power in France

June 25th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

A friend sent me this. It shows the balance of power between left and right since WWII in France. Too much red at the moment of course! But interesting how dominant the blue has been.


France’s youngest MP

June 19th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

This 22 year old has just been elected to the French Parliament, becoming their youngest MP since 1791.

Normally I would approve of such an election. Time magazine describes Marion as “Intelligent, articulate and exceptionally easy to gaze upon” – a description hard to dispute.

However there is a downside. Her full name is Marion Maréchal-Le Pen. She is the grand-daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen and got elected as a National Front MP – a feat even her aunt and party leader failed to achieve. She is already being touted as a future National Front Leader.

Incidentally in 1986 France introduced proportional representation, and the result was the National Front won 35 seats in the French Parliament. They abolished proportional representation for the next round of elections, and they were reduced to one MP.

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Europe not getting better anytime soon

May 7th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

AP reports:

Socialist Francois Hollande defeated conservative incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy to become France’s next president, heralding a change in how Europe tackles its debt crisis and how France flexes its military and diplomatic muscle around the world.

I was never a big Sarkozy fan, but Hollande’s policies may have an impact well beyond France.

Hollande inherits an economy that’s a driver of the European Union but is deep in debt. He wants more government stimulus, and more government spending in general, despite concerns in the markets that France needs to urgently trim its huge debt.

Will France join the PIGS? And Greece votes also:

Greek voters enraged by economic hardship have (overnight NZ time) deserted traditional governing parties in droves at elections, putting the country’s future in the euro zone at risk, according to an early projection by the Interior Ministry.

The projection, confirming a pattern in earlier exit polls, showed the two parties supporting an EU/IMF bailout that is keeping Greece from bankruptcy would struggle to form a workable coalition government.

To be blunt current Greek culture is very unhealthy, and they are architects of their own misfortune. While small incidents, the stories of a Kiwi traveller there are symbolic of their problems:

The next day I’m at the bus stop early to get back up to the top of Meteora but it doesn’t come. Like many things in Greece they have a real CBF attitude – and they wonder why their economy is rooted.


The whole riot thing doesn’t really bother me though, as I’ve been informed most of it is just for the TV cameras and once they’re gone the rioters can be found a few blocks away drinking chi.


I guess that’s hardly surprising, the Greeks do have a reputation for being lazy, but in a way it’s extraordinary given they were the ones to invent such things as democracy.

I first encounter this laziness when I visit the Archeology Museum primarily to see the Greek vase collection which takes up the entire first floor.

I’m ridiculously excited (nerdy I know) but ever since I studied them at high school I’ve been a little obsessed.

But when I get there I discover the collection is closed.

When I ask I’m told – “just because.”

So I ask someone else and they helpfully inform me that they didn’t feel like putting on enough staff to cover it today, even though it’s the weekend.

And while only a museum collection, it is symbolic of the country overall.

Back to Greeks being lazy… they have a equal CBF attitude when it comes to showcasing their most prized possession – the Acropolis.

Most days it closes at 3pm but somedays earlier – it just depends on how they feel.

I suspect that Greece will have to be thrown out of the Euro, and have their own currency devalue to very low levels, for Greece to realise the rest of the world won’t keep funding your lifestyle.

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Well done the French

October 23rd, 2011 at 10:52 pm by David Farrar

Well the New Zealand All Blacks are the world champions by 8 points to 7. Let the celebrations begin!!!!

But full credit to the French who played a magnificent game, and performed so very very well that they must be gutted not to have won, but should be proud of their play.

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Le Pen leads the polls

March 8th, 2011 at 2:44 pm by David Farrar

The Independent reports:

France was shocked yesterday by an opinion poll which suggested that the far-right leader Marine Le Pen could win the first round of the presidential election next northern spring.

Although the poll was framed in a rather dubious way, and one out of three people gave no opinion, the outcome was a deep humiliation for President Nicolas Sarkozy and a stark warning to his bickering would-be centre-left rivals.

Le Pen has now doubled her opinion poll score in the space of four months – from 12 per cent to 23 per cent – revealing a deep anger with French politics-as-usual among voters of both the Right and the Left.

Le Pen is smarter than her father. She holds her own in political debates, and avoids the extreme positions of her father. She is anti free trade and generally left wing economically, but also rails against liberalism. She is anti-privatisation and anti-monetarist.

On the EU she wants it changed to a loose confederation, and advocates leaving the Euro.

In terms of immigration, her policy is to have a moratorium. She is anti-abortion, anti-euthanasia and supports capital punishment for child kidnapping and/or the murder of children or the elderly.

I do not think she will be elected President of France, but there is a real possibility she will make it into the final round of voting. In fact the most likely person not to make the final round is President Sarkozy at the moment. But April 2012 is still a long way off.


France refusing to face reality

September 9th, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A colossal turnout for nationwide protests against pension reform yesterday threatened President Nicolas Sarkozy with a long winter of discontent if he pushes ahead with plans to increase the French retirement age from 60 to 62.

Trade unions comfortably exceeded their target of mobilising two million people on the streets as a nationwide strike disrupted transport, schools, government offices and parts of the media.

In Paris, the demonstration was so large – an estimated 270,000 people, or twice the numbers of the last protest in June – that the march had to be split into two halves.

More than 100 marches across the country attracted 2.5 million people, according to union estimates.

They are complaining about 62, when Australia and other countries are moving to 67 or 68.

It is inevitable that in NZ, the age will increase from 65 also.

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Kudos to French PM

July 2nd, 2009 at 10:49 am by David Farrar

I wanted an apology from the French Rugby Union (who took part in the cover up) but never thought the Bastareaud affair would become an issue for the French Government.

So one can only praise French PM Francois Fillon for an unexpected apology. Fillon is a huge rugby fan and this may have motivated him to intervene.

I hope he tears the French Rugby Union a new orifice, and that they do not just discipline Bastareaud but all those involved in covering up the false allegation.

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Arrogant French

June 30th, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

The French embassy refuses to apologise for damage to Wellington’s reputation from Mathieu Bastareaud’s false assault allegations, despite a scathing article penned by its ambassador.

You can read the Ambassadors’ article for yourself here. He said:

More serious is the assault against a French rugby player in the street, on the grounds that he is French and identified as one of the best French player. At least, this is how the local press reports the event. We thought rugby was safe from such behaviour which, alas, plagues other sports. Supporters’ passion cannot fully explain this incident. Maybe the assailants took literally an article entitled “Ten reasons to hate the French”.

Is one of those reasons their arrogance and inability to say sorry?

The Dom Post editorial also makes some good points about the cover-up:

The players who entered the hotel with him and the team doctor who stitched him up almost certainly know the real cause of his injury, and so probably do coach Marc Lievremont and manager Jo Maso. Why else delay for 48 hours before telling the world?

New Zealand and France have a long and rich history on and off the rugby field. On the field it is a relationship marked by equal parts brilliance and skulduggery – both admired qualities in rugby circles. But, off the field, the skulduggery should stop.

Bastareaud has apologised to the New Zealand Rugby Union and Wellington for his lies. The French rugby union and team management should do the same to try to repair the damage done to Wellington’s name by their complicity in the Bastareaud Affair.

The lies told were not that of a sole player. Management approved the lie and attempted cover up and the French Rugby Union should discipline those responsible and apologise. If a NZ team did what the French did, the senior management would be sacked.

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Blog Bits

January 4th, 2009 at 2:28 pm by David Farrar
  1. Neil Sanderson has research from Pew. In 2008, the number of people gettign their news off the Internet went from 24% to 40%, beating newspapers at 34% for the first time.  Tv remains top at 70R% but is slowly declining.
  2. Chris Trotter has a repost of a 2001 address he gave on defence. Many may be surprised by his views. I found myself agreeing with much of it!
  3. Tim Blair notes that *only* 1,147 cars were burnt in France on New Year’s Eve, which was described by authorities as “rather calm”
  4. MacDoctor finds the new English requirements for foreign nurses as idiotic at a time of nursing shortages, and points out most NZ nurses could not meet the new standard.
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July 4th, 2008 at 8:22 am by David Farrar

My final full day in France was spent in Versailles. Versailles is the former capital of France and home to the Château de Versailles, former home of the French Kings.

The Palace is magnificent, with features such as the Hall of Mirrors. It is a match for anything in the UK. But the true jewel is the Gardens. The Gardens are 800 hectares in size with over 200,000 trees. I could have spent days and days there. There are 50 fountains and 23 hectares of water in the main canal.

This is at the top of the gardens. You need a full day to properly get around the gardens as there are scores of things to see. You can also hire a bike or even a boat to get around!

German Girl next to an angelic statue.

This is a section of the grounds at the far end from the palace where Marie Antionette used to live in the Petit Trianon. It’s been restored as a wonderfully tranquil hamlet. Probably the most beautiful part of the Gardens.

Fish galore. You could probably jump in and grab a dozen!

A garden at the back of the hamlet.

They also had a small farm there with goats, pigs, roosters, and of course donkeys!

The back of the palace.

It really is a wonderful place. Anyone visiting France should look around it.

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Politicians in Paris

July 2nd, 2008 at 11:25 am by David Farrar

Sadly for me, not all my time overseas was a holiday. In Paris I also attended an IDU meeting. The International Democrat Union is a grouping of centre-right parties from around the world – around 95 parties are now members.It was founded by Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Helmet Kohl and Jacques Chirac.

I’ve been involved in the IDU and IYDU for a number of years. This meeting is the big one though – the party leader’s meeting which is held every three years. The last one was in Washington DC in 2005.

The French National Assembly where we met for the Party Leaders Plenary. There were representatives from 46 countries, including eight Prime Ministers and a further 24 Party Leaders. The Prime Ministers included France, Croatia, Denmark, Georgia and Iceland. Some of the Leaders included David Cameron (UK), Bosnia, Chile, Ecuador, Lithuania, Sri Lanka, Nicaragua, Norway, Peru and Portugal.

The Conference lasted for two days with Regional meetings on Wednesday morning, an IDU Executive meeting on Wednesday afternoon and the main plenary session on Thursday.

The lady speaking is an Opposition Leader from Venezuela. A growing number of attendees are from semi or fully autocratic countries such as Venezuela, Cuba and Belarus where their parties are banned back home. It is quite inspiring talking to them and realizing how much they risk to get what we take for granted.

John Howard (IDU Chairman) greeting the French Prime Minister – François Fillon. The French PM gave one of the best speeches I have heard – hard to believe it was from a French politician. He quoted economic heroes of the right and the merits of free trade and liberalism which is not socialism or conservatism. I am going to try and get a copy – it really was that good.

On the Wednesday Night we were taken out to the Elysee Palace to meet President Sarkozy. The bus even got a police escort who cleared traffic for us, and you can see us travelling on the wrong side of the road here. A lot of pedesterians were wondering who was on the bus to warrant such treatment and must have been very disappointed to see me on the front seat. Mind you there were also half a dozen Prime Ministers with us!

The attendees are entering the Palace. Quite unusually there were no security checks (despite us all having been told to bring our passports. We were just escorted from the bus straight into the Palace without even a metal detector.

I did get to meet President Sarkozy (who is even shorter than Winston!) and The Stig remarked to me that it was the first time meeting someone who actually has his finger on the bomb!

The photo above is a poor quality one (taken via cellphone) of Sarkozy and UK Conservative Leader David Cameron. Cameron was in attendance for the full two days, and is a very engaging personality. He is quite charismastic and a good public speaker, but also very engaging on a one on one level. You feel you are talking to a person, not just a politician.

Sarkozy was, well, very French. :-)

After a couple of hours of champagne and nibbles at the Palace, we were taken to the Senate for a reception dinner. Also a fine venue, to say the least. And the food was absolutely first class.

This was taken out the window of the Senate. What is really amazing is the photo was taken a bit after 10 pm. Paris has amazingly long days, staying light until after 11 pm. It was one of the many things I loved about the city.

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UK and France

June 13th, 2008 at 11:17 am by David Farrar

I’m in the United Kingdom and France for around 13 days from 18 June to 1 July. Mainly road tripping in the UK, and attending an IDU conference in Paris after that.

If UK readers are keen to catch up for a beer, let me know.  I should be in the south of England until around the 21st and in London from 22nd to 24th.

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