TRANSATLANTIC PARALLEL: Trains and planes, and the government ladies

Les trains et les avions 

"In the 60’s, New York Central was experimenting with building high-speed trains on the cheap, hence the M-497 – a modified Budd commuter car with US Air Force surplus General Electric J47-19 jet engines in a B36-H bomber engine pod planted on the top. It reached a top speed of 183.681 mph – still the current high speed record for light rail in the United States. Once the experiment was over, the jet engines were removed and the train went back to regular commuter duty until it was cannibalized for parts in 1977 - the end of a short but amazing jet train era" -wikepedia
Nice try...

...but no cigar.
TGV is a Train à Grande Vitesse- a high speed train-powered by electric motors that can achieve speeds of up to 320km/hr. It is super comfortable (OK, it does sway a little) but it gets you across France in under 4 hours (OK it is France, not the gigantic USA) but if you can work in Paris all week and be in Avignon in time for dinner on Friday night, that's pretty fantastic don't you agree?

The US railway system, on the other hand, is antiquated -save for the eastern corridor's Acela fast-ish train- and this I suppose because of the advent of the airplane which bridged the huge distances between US cities as no train of any speed could have. Just a note: it takes TEN hours to travel to Montreal in Canada from NYC, the same distance traveled from Paris to Avignon in the south coast of France in 3 1/2 hours! see what I mean?

US airline companies offer very frequent flights to every city in the country at prices that are unbelievably reasonable, often from airports that are not too distant from city centers.

Flying in France, however, is relatively expensive and competes with difficulty with the high speed TGV that has the added advantage of connecting train stations in city centers, unlike usually more distant airports.
Why is the train system so much more efficient in France? I have a theory, albeit no a scientifically proven theory: could it be that while the Americans were able to drive this in the 50's...

... the French had to settle for this?
The glorified swaying, vibrating, struggling sewing machine on wheels that was the "deuch"( stands for 2 CV pronounced deuh cheu voh) ("deuch" enthusiasts please no infuriated outcry! it was endearingly cute in an ugly sort of way, but no threat to even the most modest railway system. Admit it. And, yes, I know we did have other more sophisticated cars.)
Ces dames du gouvernement
Well, let's start with the hairstyles
Very neat. All business. But mostly nice cuts.
No rules followed. Relaxed at the very least.

notice a difference?

The skirt and boot combo
Not a trend at all in DC...or anywhere else in the States in government.
A plain strict jacket in EVERY color of the rainbow with perfectly matching tee, is a not a BIG fashion statement. Sorry, ca ne marche pas. It just does not work.
A little more neutral and even very slightly frilly, that works.
And then there are the scarves
There again, I could not find any indication that a large scarf was part of a US government fashion-must. 
But there are the pearls.


And the brooches
 on both sides

Some with subtle patriotic messages or a VERY subtle decoration (the red ribbon of the Legion d'Honneur)

Chic, a tad osé- daring- and very Red Carpet on the presidential red carpet.

Chic over here too, in a more serious way
Well there you have it.
If you wish to add your voice to this topic, please leave your reactions and comments at petits commentaires below or vite, go see a femme d'un certain age 's take on all of this and we will read it with great pleasure.

merci Letitia
au revoir.


  1. A very interesting take on fashion and politics. Now that you've pointed out the differences, they are obvious.
    Is it because on this side of the Atlantic women feel more like they are in competition with men?

  2. My dearest Partner,

    How brilliantly well done. You taught me so much about the travel side. Love your Jet train. Who would have thought -- and all that for nothing?

    It's interesting where governments of different countries put their priorities. It's a shame Americans are always in a hurry to get every place.

    Your approach to the dressing was so clever and creative the way you showed the boots, the hair, the pearls Michele Alliot-Marie looks like she is about to fall out of her dress.

    Fabulous post, my chere, chere amie.

    xo, Letitia