(nil): Panos Triantaphillou (panos(@)bart.nl)
Ημερομηνία: Παρ 26 Ιούν 1998 - 03:44:32 EEST
AMERICANS ABROAD - TAKE NOTE
The following advisory note for American travellers heading for France
compiled from information provided by the US State Department, the
Intelligence Agency, the US Chamber of Commerce, the Food and Drug
Administration, the Centres for Disease Control, and some very expensive
satellites that the French don't know about.
It is intended as a guide for American travellers only.
No guarantee of accuracy is ensured or intended.
General overview: France is a medium-sized foreign country
situated in the continent of Europe. It is an important member
of the world community, though not nearly as important as it thinks.
It is bounded by Germany, Spain, Switzerland and some smaller
nations of no particular consequence and with not very good shopping.
France is a very old country with many treasures, such as the Louvre
and EuroDisney. Among its contributions to western civilisation are
champagne, Camembert cheese and the guillotine.
Although France likes to think of itself as a modern nation, air
conditioning is little used and it is next to impossible to get
decent Mexican food. One continuing exasperation for American
visitors is that the people wilfully persist in speaking French, though
many will speak English if shouted at. As in any foreign country,
watch your change at all times.
The People: France has a population of 54 million people, most of
whom drink and smoke a great deal, drive like lunatics, are dangerously
oversexed, and have no concept of standing patiently in line.
The French people are in general gloomy, temperamental, proud,
arrogant, aloof, and undisciplined; and those are their good points.
Most French citizens are Roman Catholic, though you would hardly
guess it from their behaviour. Many people are communists, and topless
sunbathing is common.
Men sometimes have girls' names like Marie, and they kiss each
other when they hand out medals.
American travellers are advised to travel in groups and to wear
baseball caps and colourful trousers for easier mutual recognition.
Safety: In general, France is a safe destination, though travellers are
advised that, from time to time, it is invaded by Germany. By tradition,
the French surrender more or less at once and, apart from a
temporary shortage of Scotch whisky and increased difficulty in getting
baseball scores and stock market prices, life for the visitor generally
goes on much as before.
A tunnel connecting France to Britain beneath the English Channel
has been opened in recent years to make it easier for the Government to
flee to London.
History: France was discovered by Charlemagne in the Dark Ages.
Other important historical figures are Louis XIV, the Huguenots, Joan of
Jacques Cousteau and Charles de Gaulle, who was President for many years
and is now an airport.
Government: The French form of government is democratic but noisy.
Elections are held more or less continuously, and always result
in a run-off. For administrative purposes, the country is divided into
departments, districts' municipalities, cantons, communes, villages,
booths and floor tiles. Parliament consists of two chambers, the Upper
Lower (though, confusingly, they are both on the ground floor), whose
are either Gaullists or communists, neither of whom is to be trusted,
Parliament's principal preoccupations are setting off atomic bombs in the
South Pacific, and acting indignant when anyone complains. According to
current State Department intelligence, the President now is someone named
Jacques. Further information is not available at this time.
Culture: The French pride themselves on their culture, though it
is not easy to see why. All their songs sound the same, and they have
hardly ever made a movie that you would want to watch for anything but
nude scenes. And nothing, of course, is more boring than a French
Cuisine: Let's face it, no matter how much garlic you put on it, a
snail is just a slug with a shell on its back. Croissants, on the other
are excellent, though it is impossible for most Americans to pronounce
word. In general, travellers are advised to stick to cheeseburgers at
such as Sheraton and Holiday Inn.
Economy: France has a large and diversified economy, second only
to Germany's in Europe, which is surprising because people hardly work
If they are not spending four hours dawdling over lunch, they are on
and blocking the roads with their lorries and tractors. France's
exports, in order of importance to the economy, are wine, nuclear
guided missiles, champagne, high-calibre weaponry, grenade launchers,
landmines, tanks, attack aircraft, miscellaneous armaments and cheese.
Public holidays: France has more holidays than any other nation in
the world. Among its 361 national holidays are 197 saints' days, 37
National Liberation Days, 16 Declaration of Republic Days, 54
Return of Charles de Gaulle in Triumph as if he Won the War
Days, 18 Napoleon Sent into Exile Days, 17 Napoleon Called Back from
Days, and 112 France is Great and the Rest of the World is Rubbish Days.
Other important holidays are National Nuclear Bomb Day January 12), the
Feast of St
Brigitte Bardot Day (March 1), and National Guillotine Day (November 12).
Conclusion: France enjoys a rich history, a picturesque and varied
and a temperate climate. In short, it would be a very nice country if
weren't inhabited by French people. The best thing that can be said for
that it is not Germany.
A word of warning: The consular services of the United States government
intended solely for the promotion of the interests of American
as McDonald's, Pizza Hut and the Coca-Cola Corporation. In the event
are the victim of a crime or serious injury involving at least the loss
limb, report to the American Embassy between the hours of 5.l5 am and
on a Tuesday or Wednesday, and a consular official who is supremely
to your plight will give you a list of qualified dentists or something
Remember, no one ordered you to go abroad. Personally, we always take our
holidays at Miami Beach, and you are advised to as well. Thank you and
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