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L'Année dernière à Marienbad

The famous avant-garde movie Last Year at Marienbad is on YouTube. [more inside]
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Feb 26, 2013 - 26 comments

L'Ecume Des Jours

Trailer for Michel Gondry's new film, Mood Indigo, based on the book Foam of the Daze (or Froth on the Daydream, depending on the translation) by Boris Vian. [more inside]
posted by hopeless romantique on Feb 25, 2013 - 18 comments

World War 2 bunker, pristine condition, barely used

In July 1939, French authorities started building a 120m² bomb shelter under the Gare de l’Est (East Railway Station) in Paris so that traffic controllers could keep on working if the station was attacked. However, it was not completed in time and the Germans used it instead. The bunker, which includes a pedal generator, is still there, in near perfect condition. Other images and video (in French). Bonus underground Parisian bunker: this Cold-war era bunker under the Ministry of Transportation (equipped with tandem pedal generators) will become a datacenter early 2014.
posted by elgilito on Feb 22, 2013 - 28 comments

The Spy Novelist Who Knows Too Much

"De Villiers has spent most of his life cultivating spies and diplomats, who seem to enjoy seeing themselves and their secrets transfigured into pop fiction (with their own names carefully disguised), and his books regularly contain information about terror plots, espionage and wars that has never appeared elsewhere. Other pop novelists, like John le Carré and Tom Clancy, may flavor their work with a few real-world scenarios and some spy lingo, but de Villiers’s books are ahead of the news and sometimes even ahead of events themselves." (SLNYT)
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Jan 31, 2013 - 26 comments

Albert Dubout

Albert Dubout (1905-1976) was a highly popular and prolific French cartoonist and illustrator, whose works were ubiquitous in France from the 1930s to the 1970s: Dubout illustrated books, film posters (notably those of Marcel Pagnol), magazines, advertisements, postcards and some of his cartoons were eventually adapted as a movie. Today, Dubout is best known as the creator of the Dubout couple (movie version; figurine version), consisting of a very large, full-bosomed, dominating, angry-looking wife with a diminutive, hapless and mustachioed husband in tow. Dubout's work is often highly detailed, and images larger than the tiny ones available on the official website are shown under the fold. [more inside]
posted by elgilito on Jan 26, 2013 - 2 comments

So...........here we go again?

Jihad in the Sahara. It is no suprrise that Mali is the latest Muslim country to experience western Intervention. This has resulted in escalation. The north of Mali is as alien to the average soldier from southern Mali as the Alaskan tundra is to a citizen of Massachusetts or Manchester. This is the land where the local Tuareg or Arab in his souped-up turbo 4x4 is king. A map of the various conflicts. In October a der Spiegel journalist spent 2 weeks in the north of the country and in November CS Monitor asked Will Mali be Africa's Afghanistan?
posted by adamvasco on Jan 18, 2013 - 75 comments

I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Poe.

After a few weeks of well-reported rumors that Lance Armstrong was going to confess, he publicly admitted to years of doping in the first of a two-part interview with Oprah Winfrey. [more inside]
posted by entropone on Jan 18, 2013 - 209 comments

Love Lego? Love Rugby?

Ever wanted to see rugby highlights animated in lego? Of course you have! [more inside]
posted by Scottie_Bob on Dec 14, 2012 - 6 comments

"Michelin-starred restaurants began to look and taste the same."

Vanity Fair: What's Wrong With The Michelin Guide. Esquire:Why It's Hard To Trust The Michelin Standards. FT:Star-Crossed: Once universally revered, the Michelin Guide is now dismissed by some as a relic of a bygone age
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 14, 2012 - 56 comments

The Brutality of Experience

Brutal Baroque: An Ode To Midcentury Modern Churches: French photographer Fabrice Fouillet traveled across Europe photographing some of the most important examples of postwar churches, creating a catalogue of the spaces called Corpus Christi. [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on Dec 13, 2012 - 18 comments

The Stupid and Evil Magazine

In 1960 humorist Georges Bernier, author François Cavanna and comic artist (and artistic director) Fred Aristidès began publishing the satirical magazine Hara Kiri, which attacked the French establishment, including politicians, the government and Catholic Church. In 1961 and 1966 it was temporarily banned by the French Government. The magazine's covers were often tasteless, NSFW, "famously perverted, bizarre and highly creative and at the time, and in fact even by today's standards in a league of their own." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 4, 2012 - 16 comments

Music is a rebellious bird.

Zic Zazou (French homepage) is a group of nine musicians who often play music using objects and toy instruments. Here is a delightful video of them performing the Habanera from Carmen in a workshop, with the workshop. [more inside]
posted by Lutoslawski on Nov 21, 2012 - 5 comments

"deconstruction, in French, would be nothing without puns"

What was Of Grammatology about? When Madeleine, the heroine of Jeffrey Eugenides's campus novel The Marriage Plot, asks a young theory-head this question, she is immediately set straight: 'If it was "about" anything, then it was about the need to stop thinking of books as being about things.' That's not so far off. In all three books, Derrida's argument was that Western thought from Plato to Rousseau to Lévi-Strauss had been hopelessly entangled in the illusion that language might provide us with access to a reality beyond language, beyond metaphor: an unmediated experience of truth and being which he called 'presence'.
Not in the Mood by Adam Shatz is an essay in The London Review of Books about a new biography of the French philosopher Jacques Derrida. The review does a good job of explaining Derrida's theories in simple language and putting it in the context of his life, from his childhood as French Jew in Vichy-controlled Algeria to his later years as a globetrotting academic star. For a complimentary perspective on Derrida, you can do worse than starting with these thoughts on his relevance for historians and progressives.
posted by Kattullus on Nov 14, 2012 - 36 comments

The Expendables: life in the French Foreign Legion

It was simplifying. Forget your civilian reflexes. The task does not require a purpose. Do not ask questions, do not make suggestions, do not even think of that. The Legion is our fatherland. We will accept you. We will shelter you.
posted by The corpse in the library on Nov 12, 2012 - 32 comments

Human cormorants and dolphins

Tony Stark style daredevils "flying" over, under and through the water (SLYT) This video (warning: annoying music) gets off to a slow start, but then the air ballet begins and the people turn into cormorants and dolphins. Enjoy!
posted by carmicha on Nov 10, 2012 - 26 comments

"Crossroads possess a certain dangerous potency."

How Things Fell Apart, By Chinua Achebe - 'In an excerpt from his long-awaited memoir, the inventor of the post-colonial African novel in English discusses his origins as a writer and the seeds of revolt against the British Empire.'
I can say that my whole artistic career was probably sparked by this tension between the Christian religion of my parents, which we followed in our home, and the retreating, older religion of my ancestors, which fortunately for me was still active outside my home. I still had access to a number of relatives who had not converted to Christianity and were called heathens by the new converts. When my parents were not watching I would often sneak off in the evenings to visit some of these relatives.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 25, 2012 - 10 comments

We Don't Want a Traffic Jam?

You want us to pay you for directing eyeballs to your sites? Newspaper publishers in France want a law whereby Google (and other search engine services) have to pay for each click made from the search engine to their sites. You click on a link to a French newspaper site from a search engine, the Search Engine has to pay the newspaper for that click. If the law is passed it's likely Google will no longer include links to French sites that require payment for said links.
posted by juiceCake on Oct 19, 2012 - 107 comments

A Mighty Wind

Twenty-five years ago today, southern England and northern France were struck by the Great Storm of 1987. Although the storm did not go entirely unforecast, the exact track and ferocity of the storm were not as predicted, and the resulting devastation killed at least 22 people, and destroyed six of the seven oak trees that are symbolic of the eponymous town of Sevenoaks, in Kent. [more inside]
posted by kcds on Oct 15, 2012 - 11 comments

The honey that melts in your mouth, not in your hand

What to do when your bees develop a taste for the residue of the confectionary process, with some rather visible side effects. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Oct 5, 2012 - 65 comments

Richard Olney

Like all shrines, this one is on a hill, and built into solid rock. Richard Olney saw it first in 1961 on an excursion south from his adoptive home in Paris. Olney, whose The French Menu Cookbook was recently judged the best cookbook ever by this magazine, immediately knew he had found his proper place on earth. [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen on Sep 24, 2012 - 12 comments

There once was a postman who designed scarves for Hermès....

Portrait of the Artist as a Postman. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 24, 2012 - 8 comments

"A continuous slaughter which could be of no avail either to the French or the Russians."

Today is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Borodino, in which Napoleon's armies met Russian troops 75 miles east of Moscow on 7 September 1812. The huge battle, involving quarter of a million troops, was the strongest stand the Imperial Russian Army made against Napoleon's forces, and it resulted in heavy casualties on both sides. Although the Russian army withdrew, the French tactical victory in the Battle of Borodino was a Pyrrhic one, and Napoleon ultimately left Russia in defeat. The battle was reenacted at Borodino last weekend, as is done annually. A cultural symbol of Russian national courage, the Battle of Borodino has been famously commemorated in Russian literature, music, art, and poetry. [more inside]
posted by Westringia F. on Sep 7, 2012 - 26 comments

très moving

Paris in Motion is a beautiful time-lapse stop-motion video by Mayeul Akpovi.
posted by quin on Sep 4, 2012 - 5 comments

Perry Anderson's essays about modern states in The London Review of Books

Perry Anderson's book length three part series on the history of India from the beginnings of its independence movement, through independence and partition into its recent history as a nation-state is the latest in a series of erudite, opinionated and wordy articles in The London Review of Books by the UCLA professor of history and sociology on the modern history of various countries, so far taking in Brazil, Italy, Turkey, Cyprus, the EU, Russia, Taiwan and France. [more inside]
posted by Kattullus on Aug 25, 2012 - 6 comments

Charles de Thierry: man of many lands, king of none

Charles Philippe Hippolyte de Thierry lead a storied life, and many of those stories are ones he made up. His family was associated with the French court, though there is doubt to his claims of noble lineage. In England, he met two Maori chiefs and an English missionary from New Zealand, and attempted to purchase a northern portion of New Zealand in 1820. He then sought to turn this land into a colony first for Britain in 1822, then the Dutch government in 1824 when the English offer fell through. The Dutch, too, turned him down, so in 1825 de Thierry made the same offer to the French government, and was similarly refused. Fleeing creditors, he left for America. In 1834, he traveled south, where he was granted concession for cutting the Panama Canal. That, too, fell through, and he sailed west, reaching Tahiti in June 1835, where he elected himself king of Nuka Hiva. The kingdom was never his, and so he continued west and south, arriving at his plot in New Zealand in 1837, where again he offered land up to France for a colony. His efforts to claim a colony and a kingdom came to an end in 1840, with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, sealing a deal between the British Crown and the Māori. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 16, 2012 - 7 comments

High earners in France consider moving in response to 75% tax

“We’re getting a lot of calls from high earners who are asking whether they should get out of France,” said Mr. Grandil... “Even young, dynamic people pulling in 200,000 euros are wondering whether to remain in a country where making money is not considered a good thing.” French president François Hollande's plan to tax income above a million euros ($1.24 million) a year at 75% is alarming some.
posted by shivohum on Aug 8, 2012 - 259 comments

Paris, London, Berlin, Brussels

The Big Three of EU Foreign Policy: Stefan Lehne on the contrasting roles of Germany, France and the UK.
posted by rollick on Aug 3, 2012 - 4 comments

James Salter's "A Sport and a Pastime"

James Salter's A Sport and a Pastime is one of those very rare novels that seems not so much to have been written as discovered. At its heart is a love story, an encounter, that transforms its relatively ordinary protagonists into beings around whom the entire cosmos shapes itself. The love story is delicate and ephemeral, put together out of bits and pieces, like a bird's nest. The vulnerable lovers tremble, in the most mundane circumstances, on the edge of catastrophe. Simply the way one of them moves across the room to meet the other seems miraculous and hazardous. Were they to become aware of themselves everything would be lost. But there is no danger of that. Oblivious, they tiptoe on a precipice. They do not and cannot know that their innocence cloaks them in a kind of divinity and infallibility. Actions and attitudes we expect to bring them down don't. They do things that seem so perfect, so poignant, without knowing they are doing anything at all. They arc beautifully across our path, and then vanish. - Michael Doliner (previously) [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen on Jul 31, 2012 - 8 comments

It is no great shame for an artist to be taken for a man of the wider world.

He is unknown. No name, no profession, no identifying details, but he looks out with the calm sternness of one who knows his place in the world. And because of this calmness, this sternness—the skeptical gaze and tight lips—we suspect it might be an image of the artist himself. Why Is This Man Wearing A Turban?, by Teju Cole.
posted by timshel on Jul 21, 2012 - 20 comments

Le Sexisme Ordinaire

In May new French minister caused a stir by wearing jeans to inaugral cabinet meeting. On Tuesday she wore a floral dress when addressing the Parliament. [more inside]
posted by zeikka on Jul 20, 2012 - 155 comments

Franco-Italian Alps cleared of barbed wire

Barbed Wire no longer lines the Franco-Italian Alps. On the 11th of July this year, after working since 2002, mainly in the Mercantour National Park, the last of 134 tonnes of steel was finally removed for recycling by teams of volunteers. [more inside]
posted by fraula on Jul 20, 2012 - 24 comments

I prefer a ruin to a monument.

A liquor store in Amsterdam. A veteran in Bagdad. A family in Rome. A WWII veterans memorial in Berlin. A house in Oxford. Edouard Levé photographed towns in the United States that shared names with famous cities. He photographed fully-clothed actors reenacting scenes from rugby and pornography [nsfw]. He also wrote some novels, influenced by Oulipo. Autoportrait, describes his life in 120 pages of unordered vignettes and brief, declarative sentences—"The girl whom I loved the most left me. [...] I am uneasy in rooms with small windows." and so on. His fourth novel, Suicide, is a one-sided conversation between an anonymous narrator ("I") and his friend ("you"), who committed suicide twenty years ago. It's a painfully intimate meditation on the act and its fallout on its own merits—"Your life was hypothesis. Those who die old are made of the past. Thinking of them, one thinks of what they have done. Thinking of you, one thinks of what you could have become. You were, and you will remain, made up of possibilities."—but few will read Suicide unburdened with the knowledge that Edouard Levé killed himself several days after completing it, at the age of 47. [more inside]
posted by spanishbombs on Jul 7, 2012 - 7 comments

You eat too fast, and I understand why your antidyspeptic pill-makers cover your walls, your forests even, with their advertisements.

In 1891 author and lecturer ”Max O’Rell” (being the pen name of one Léon Paul Blouet) published an amusing account of his travels through the States and Eastern Canada - "A Frenchman In America" - that, along with the charming illustrations, reflect on then popular national stereotypes and character and is presented on Project Gutenberg in its entirely. (via)
posted by The Whelk on Jul 7, 2012 - 16 comments

“Don’t try to lock him up. He escapes, you know."

Born in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, member of the French resistance and the SOE, multiple escapee from Nazi execution, RIP Count Robert de La Rochefoucauld.
posted by Artw on Jun 30, 2012 - 20 comments

Chéri Herouard and La Vie parisienne

Two Flickr sets of 295 illustrations and 103 illustrations each (plus three more illustrations), by French artist Chéri Herouard who is most famous for his work for "naughty French magazine" La Vie parisienne from 1907 to his death. You can find some high quality scans from La Vie parisienne and more information about the magazine at Darwination Scans. Quite a few of the images are not safe for work. [via Kate Beaton]
posted by Kattullus on Jun 23, 2012 - 13 comments

International pop

"Euphoria", which won the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest (previously), is a #1 in several countries, including Ireland, Austria, and Switzerland Of course, it's not the only song charting internationally that you might never hear on US radio. It should come as no surprise that one can readily find international hits online. For instance - Sweden, #4: Panetoz - Dansa Pausa Sweden, #9: Mange Makers - Drick Den This doesn't purport to be an exhaustive list, but rather a jumping-off point. [more inside]
posted by LSK on Jun 13, 2012 - 25 comments

Proposition 1803

In the early 19th century, a man named Charles Fanaye and his lover Marie-Hélène sought to wed in Southern France. He was a former Napoleonic soldier, back from the Campaign in Egypt. She was an Ethiopian woman who had rescued him from the Mameluks and followed him to France. Like many other interracial couples, Charles and Marie-Hélène begged for an exception to the 1803 decree that banned marriage between blacks and whites. It was only after 16 years, when the ban was silently lifted in 1819, that they could finally marry. A (long) paper by Jennifer Heuer on the arbitrary definitions of race in post-Revolutionary France and on "the persistence of certain couples in legitimizing their bonds".
posted by elgilito on Jun 10, 2012 - 22 comments

Minitel, we hardly knew ye

Minitel bows out It was France's first glimpse of an online future. But now, 30 years after it was invented, the wired experiment that foreshadowed the World Wide Web is about to lose its connection once and for all.
posted by Wolof on Jun 9, 2012 - 42 comments

Where the two-humped camel roam

"OK. HOLY COW! OK, that's fine, two big camels just passed me by... (giggling) Yes... There are camels on the highway. There's a circus somewhere and there are camels on the highway. Yes, Yes. No, no, no, there are two camels and I'm filming them." French drivers meet a couple of stray camels on a Normandy highway and try to capture them.
posted by elgilito on Jun 6, 2012 - 17 comments

Animated Histories of European Football

In advance of Euro 2012, the Guardian has made animated histories of six of the competitors: England, Spain, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Germany and France. (Autoplay video in last six links.)
posted by hoyland on Jun 6, 2012 - 21 comments

C'est parfait!

A food truck takes Paris. Lovely NYT video about 'Cantina California', an upscale food truck in France.
posted by xowie on Jun 4, 2012 - 40 comments

Terrifying French Children's books

There are some frightening looking children's books titles in English but, it seems nobody manages to bring them out like the French.
posted by rongorongo on Jun 1, 2012 - 48 comments

Free camping in Europe by bicycle

Adrift in a bleak economy and our isolated urban bubble, in 2010 my sweetheart and I set out to see the world the old-fashioned way: by bicycle. We did it on the cheap and without any itinerary, gadgets, or training. We moved south with the sun as the seasons changed, cooked food we found at local markets, and slept in fields or on strangers’ couches. [more inside]
posted by latkes on May 29, 2012 - 50 comments

Innovation in France

"Nicolas Sarkozy did very little about fostering innovation — he didn’t have a clue. As for François Hollande, the strongest part of its electorate (largely composed of teachers and other public servants) opposes any rapprochement between private sector and public higher education. And let’s not mention the underlying “ideology” of venture capital, carried interest, IPO’s, flexible employment rules, etc. Hollande’s supporters will also oppose any removal of cobwebs from the 102-year-old labor code that greatly complicates the management of companies employing 50 or more people. As a result, France has 2.4 times more companies with 49 employees than with 50..." - Francois Hollande’s Start-down Nation
posted by beisny on May 11, 2012 - 79 comments

à-peu-près rock et toujours brillant

Telerama Concerts Privé, recorded live in Paris: Wilco - Bonnie Prince Billy - The Shins - Jonathan Wilson
posted by msalt on May 7, 2012 - 8 comments

« C’est maintenant que les ennuis commencent »

France has a new president. With 51.9% of the second-round vote, François Hollande has beaten Nicolas Sarkozy to become the first Socialist president of France since 1995. In his victory speech, Hollande declared that "austerity is not inevitable," but international business interests have already started rumbling about Hollande's plans for higher taxes on the rich and large-scale public sector investment. The change in power is to be effected in next ten days, with Hollande scheduled to appear at the G8 and NATO summits on May 19 and 20.
posted by theodolite on May 6, 2012 - 195 comments

Let's Go!

Mireille Mathieu sings La marseillaise in front of the Eiffel Tower in 1989 Lyrics in English
posted by The Whelk on Apr 30, 2012 - 18 comments

Space Invader

In Bed With Invader One night in Paris with street artist Invader (SLYT)
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Apr 28, 2012 - 17 comments

Claude Lanzmann

Those Americans who are familiar with the name Claude Lanzmann most likely know him as the director of “Shoah,” his monumental 1985 documentary about the extermination of the European Jews in the Nazi gas chambers. As it turns out, though, the story of Lanzmann’s eventful life would have been well worth telling even if he had never come to direct “Shoah.” In addition to film director, Lanzmann’s roles have included those of journalist, editor, public intellectual, member of the French Resistance, long-term lover of Simone de Beauvoir and close friend of Jean-Paul Sartre, world traveler, political activist, ghostwriter for Jacques Cousteau — I could go on, but it’s a good deal more entertaining to hear Lanzmann himself go on, and thanks to the publication in English of his memoir, “The Patagonian Hare,” we now have the opportunity to do so. (previously)
posted by Trurl on Apr 16, 2012 - 6 comments

Dreaming in French

On Angela Davis.
posted by latkes on Mar 25, 2012 - 10 comments

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