* All you ever need to know about the French Police.

I was going to write a description of the various and sundry police forces in France, but it is WAY complicated. So I borrowed from Wikipedia and Google images to tell the story.

After I finished the article, I realized that their system is much like ours in terms of different agencies – but they are so much more complicated in terms of who can do what and who cannot.

But, then, if it wasn’t complicated, it wouldn’t be French!

PS – there will not be a test.

France has three national police forces:

▪    Police Nationale, formerly called the Sûreté, a civilian force; it has primary responsibility for major cities and large urban

areas run under the Ministry of the Interior; its strength is roughly 150,000 agents. Note the coquettish lookfrom the guy on the right and the incredible muscles on the one in the white shirt.

  •  The National Police can strike
  • They handle all questions about admittance and continuing stay of foreigners – that’s me!
  • Large urban cities are under the jurisdiction of the National Police

▪    Gendarmerie Nationale, a gendarmerie; it has primary responsibility for smaller towns and rural areas, as well as all military installations; run by the Ministry of Defence but under operational control, for most purposes, of the Ministry of the Interior); its strength is roughly 100,000 agents. Cool uniforms, too.

▪   The gendarmes each have a free housing inside their respective gendarmerie stations, which is not the case for the police.

  • Gendarmes, because they oversee all matters regarding the military, cannot strike – this can be very important in France! However, the gendarmes found a workaround by forming associations of spouses of gendarmes. Vive la France!
  • Suburban and rural areas are handled by the Gendarmerie

The existence of two national police forces has at times created friction or competition between the two. But why make it simple?

I guess you could compare them to the CIA and the FBI. Or maybe like the City Police and the Sherriff’s Office.

▪    Douane – Direction générale des douanes et droits indirects, (otherwise known as CUSTOMS!) a civilian customs service more commonly known as the Douane, under the Minister of Budget, Public Accounting and Civil Servants; its strength is roughly 20,000 agents. Decidedly un-sexy uniforms. You would think an agency that is responsible for dashing hopes of sneaky travelers would wear something a little spiffier. Or scarier.

These three agencies are the only ones legally capable of making full arrests or serving search warrants.

Local agencies

The ASVP or Agent de Surveillance de la Voie Publique  are local, administrative police (police administrative): uniformed preventative patrols, traffic duties etc., with limited powers of arrest. Think Meter Maids.

These are the guys I perpetually wish for when I see someone parked in a cross walk or on a sidewalk. They are never there when I need them.

Now you know most of what there is to know about the French police. Kudos for getting through it all.

For those of you who cheated and just scrolled to the bottom, for shame.

* Chocolate Heaven turns into Chocolate Hell

I never thought I would say, “No, thank you,” when offered free chocolate. But after about 3 hours in the Salon du Chocolate, that is exactly what I said. 24 hours later, I still do not want to even think about chocolate. A miracle.

The Salon du Chocolate is a HUGE exhibition in the south of Paris at the Porte de Versailles, Paris’sequivalent of any American Expo Center. Lots of big buildings and many exhibits going on at the same time.

But we are here to talk about chocolate.

You name it, they had it. Dark, light, milk, white, with nuts, without nuts, caramel and coffee, with booze, in booze, bread, pastries and ice cream, in bricks, blobs, dainty, beautiful miniatures, life-sized statues and as jewelry, toys and even clothing!

We arrived, a couple of friends and I, at about 10 am

and stayed until about 1pm. And we saw it all. Every booth had free samples, and, of course, we tried almost all of them.

I did manage to find lots of Christmas presents for my Portlandian friends – now all I have to do is get them there on time.

* Size Matters – as if we didn’t already know that…

About 7 months after I arrived in Paris, I decided to go to the Sunday Market, or Marché, all by myself – that is, without my fluent in French daughter who graciously acts an my interpreter, personal appointment maker and all around watchdog. I was feeling very confident that I could, indeed, maneuver my way through the veggie stall, the cheese guys, the mushroom man and the fish people.

And I went around in that order, gaining confidence as I went, ordering and getting pretty much what I wanted with only minimal lapses into English. Until I got the the fish people. “Un filet de sole, s’il vous plait.” I asked, glowing in my newfound expertise. HAH! I thought I was getting a piece of fish – one filet of sole. What I got was a whole sole, filleted! Now that’s a big fish. And I was too embarrassed to tell them I only wanted one piece of it. So home I went with a whole lotta sole.

Next, I decided to shop for groceries online. Every item had a picture, and I figured I couldn’t do much damage. Well,yes and no. I ordered a six pack of Coke Zero but somehow missed that the can size was .15L. Hey, I’m an American! What do we know about liters? Anyway, this is the teensy size – about 2 swallows worth. the size I wanted was .33L. No damage done, but it kind of ruined my plan for not having to carry heavy drinks home from the grocery store.

But that wasn’t the last humiliation. I now have enough fabric softener to last me about 2 years. Once again, picture online looked right, new lavender fragrance appealed to me, but I neglected to check the size. I have to admit I laughed out loud this time when I unpacked the box it was in.
I put a kleenex box alongside the bottle of fabric softener to give you an idea of the relative size of the item. This sucker is humongous!

* iClouds on the horizon

In spite of the fact that I haven’t written anything for my old blog in about 8 months, here I am, starting a new one.

Why?

Because I upgraded all my Apple devices to the latest IOS with iCloud, and guess what? Sometime in the future, my old blog will disappear. I have the option to transfer it to another whatever, but the process was so complicated and I would lose so much (pictures, etc) that I just decided to begin again.

In addition to starting over, I am also learning a new program, WordPress. Oh goody.