TRANSATLANTIC PARALLEL: vacations, driving, nudity in the media

Les vacances, la conduite, la nudité dans les media.

Today,  Letitia Jett A Femme d'un Certain Age, and I play a weekly game on our blogs. We share our views on our adopted countries, France for Letitia and The States for me, all the while comparing one and the other. We "come up" with 3 topics to "discuss" and we each publish our thoughts on the subjects from our respective sides of the Ocean, never looking "at each other's sheet", so to speak.

There are some things we really love, others we miss. Good or bad, fun or unusual, whatever our point of view, we bring it to you on Mondays. See what we have in store today...
In the mid 30's laws were passed in France giving workers the right to paid leave, les conges payés; pretty soon, companies and factories coordinated their vacations dates and started closing during the month of August finding it more economical to let all their personnel go away and come back at the same time; and thus started the big seasonal migrations of August - a month when children were out of school and the weather was more apt to cooperate. The vacationers even got a name: les Aoutiens, the "August-ians". 
At one point, the roads and highways of France were one big traffic jam as everyone left on the 1st of August and came back on the 31st, on the dot.

On the flip side, Paris was a haven of calm and serenity. Yes, some restaurants and shops were closed, but a relatively empty Paris was just heaven on earth!
Along the years, unions have managed to get more and more time off for the population active of France and paid vacation time is now at it's longest; indeed as the work week has been reduced to 35 hours a week, some professionals and workers get extra time off if they work longer hours and it is not that uncommon for some people to be entitled to 5 to 6 weeks off, albeit not all of it at one time. 
What's more it is somewhat of a sport national to try to calculate how to maximize one's vacation by making it coincide with long week-ends of which there a quite a few, in May especially.
Now compare this to the vacation time awarded the average American. Most companies allow 2 weeks after the first year and some are more generous the following years, but a great number still stick to the basic 2 weeks. 
I have also noticed that it is not very good form to mention one's wish for a long vacation.
I am my own boss so it should not matter for me in any case, but some of my clients are somewhat astounded when I announce that I will be going here or there for 3 or 4 weeks; the inevitable comment very often: oh, so you are going to do some work there? the answer is non, non, non, si possible non..

Oh, another great sport national in France: les radars and how to avoid being caught by them. I have read and heard many a comment regarding radars and how they are there only to trap "innocent" drivers and how dangerous they are as most people speed and then slam on the breaks as they spot a radar and then, as soon as they have passed it, start speeding again anyway etc. etc. 
I remember a few years ago, having momentarily forgotten some rules of la conduite à la française, how furious I got when, driving for the first time in a few months on a French highway, a very fast car flashed its lights and came within inches of my back fender to get me to move out of the left lane; I was passing a truck and I had NOWHERE TO GO, for Pete's sake! I must say that in the last 2 or 3 years, due to stricter inforcement and a realisation that slower IS safer, the driving habits of my compatriots have changed enormously and most go at, or not too far above, the speed limit. A small HUGE revolution...

Radars are ubiquitous in both countries, of course, and there are, or so it seems, many many more police persons holding them or cruising along the highways and byways than I have seen on French roadways. As a consequence, though there is speeding and weaving through traffic here also, drivers are noticeably more disciplined. And, trust me,there is no trying to charm your way out of a ticket! However going to traffic court is an option and unless the infraction is enormous, most judges will be somewhat lenient and "discount the bill".

The difference in signalisation: here it's all business but quaintly polite. 

France, when not stating INTERDIT -forbidden- to do this and that, is all about appealing to your sense of safety through...fashion; this is France after all.
"It's yellow, it's ugly, it goes with nothing, but it can save your life" (alluding to the vest that one must wear when stopping and getting out of one's car during a breakdown) KL no less...
interesting approach.

*FYI: there is no way to illustrate a post on ad campaigns that include nudity, without including images of nudity; what's more, there will be no judgment on my part. The facts, just the facts.
I remember so well the first day we Parisians were introduced to the first GIGANTIC posters of this 4 part campaign in the early 80's. Everyone was wondering what was to come after this first sweet shot.

THIS is what came next:
"On the 2nd of September, I take off the top"
"On the 4th of September, I take off the bottom."
"AVENIR, the advertiser who keeps his promises"
It got a lot attention! not much of it negative. That was the point.
It was the first time that nudity was shown in the streets of Paris, and in a such a large format. Since then beaucoup d'eau a coulé sous les ponts- a lot of water has flowed under the bridges-. Nudity in public advertising is shown relatively regularly now, though less than in other mainstream media. 
I have NEVER seen an even partly nude woman - or man for that matter- on a poster in the streets here in the States. There would be dire consequences and total outrage, of that I am sure.

Nonetheless, nudity is common in magazines, advertising everything from cosmetics to fashion to, well... magazines; and this, on both side of the Atlantic. 
In France, no prude Victorian attitudes to contend with.

A little more "modesty" over here, but surely there must have been more than a few raised highbrows when these were published.

 Nudity is not exclusively feminine in mainstream magazines anymore either, in both France and the US. At least equality is making some progress. 
images forumauto, autonews.com,  franchisessentials, pleins les doigts, paperblog.fr, buzzy.news, casarines.vox, virtual tourist, 601men.com, sasafree.com, matin.qc. 

Please leave your reactions and comments at a petit commentaire below or vite, go see a Femme d'un Certain Age 's take all of this and let us know. 
merci, Letitia.
au revoir.


  1. Very good points! Only the French could make highway safety a "fashion statement" by using Lagerfeld! And, yes,the Americans do have many hangups with nudity...great post!

  2. Very interesting post!

  3. My cherest Partner,

    Your post is brilliant. How in the world did you find that picture of the "one big parking lot" of people returning from or going to vacances? Too funny.

    For years I have heard about that famous ad you illustrated and never saw it. It is a legend. EVERYONE knows about it.

    Loved your adding the Lagerfeld element, positively inspired. Everyone now keeps those vests well-exposed on the back of one of the front seats so the police don't stop us top ask where it is.

    Truly, your post is a masterwork in cultural dissection (and delectation).

    Oh how I love this partnership.


  4. Wonderful post today.