Made in France, My 2019 Diary

For 2019 I decided to try to find Made in France products each time I made a purchase and keep a Made in France Diary.

Skip the intro and jump right to the latest entry.

The idea sprang from my exercise diary. I write down on my calendar each time I get some exercise, riding my bike, taking a walk for errands or fun or taking a class. Keeping a diary helps me to keep that focus and make sure I move. I have a nice record of my constitutional outings. It is very satisfying to be able to look back and see that I pretty much get my requisite 30 minutes each day, plus needing to make an entry on the calendar gets me up and out; I get both satisfaction and encouragement.

I decided to apply that to my Made in France year. I'm keeping a diary, technically a monthly of what I buy and if it is MIF. I'm not going to be obsessive and buy ONLY MIF, like this guy Benjamin Carle who in 2014 made a project of transforming his life and apartment to only MI…

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Who was Christopher Oberkampf?

Oberkampf. You know the metro station, which was named for the street. The street was named for Christopher-Philip Oberkampf in 1864. But do you know who Oberkampf was and why there is a street named after him?

Christopher was a German Protestant immigrant to France in the 1700s under the Ancien Regime. He was a man who climbed the social and financial ladder by his own grit. He came from Germany and spoke only German when he arrived in Paris as a trained, but young, textile printer and dyer. He died a millionaire, head of an empire of 1300 workers and fashion trend-setter. The odds were against him, but his tenacity, creativity, technique, innovation, intuition and thick skin makes him one of the best immigration success stories in history. And that's why Paris has a street, metro and neighborhood named after him. In fact though he did not live and work in Paris but in the nearby (now) suburb of Jouy-en-Josas. You probably know this town as the location of the b…

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Guest post: Interview with Exo Human

Hello Exo Human,

Thank you for granting this interview where I hope we can get to understand you and your work in greater depth. (Interview and translation from French by R. Buechel.)

You have been known in France for decades for your artistic performances of urban positioning, and myriad biting graffiti proverbs holding a magnification mirror up to humanity. Fewer people know of your prize-winning poetry and books, though. Your philosophical stance and artistic identity stem from the circumstances of your birth, hardship of your childhood wrought with illness which you surmounted with great difficulty culminating in a sort of mid-life “baptism” in the depths of Greenland’s icy waters with a spectacular jump from a helicopter to obtain the world record for thermal shock, and where, perhaps more importantly, you were reborn as Exo Human.

The variety and number of activities in your background are astounding. Perhaps a starting point into yo…

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Rising stars of music in France

Three of the rising stars of music in France are an American, an Australian and a Monsieur. Three different styles all inspiring and uplifting.

Robyn Bennett: Glow

The new American star of music in France is Robyn Bennett : It is in Algiers Point, one of the oldest neighborhoods of New Orleans that GLOW was made. Nine months later Robyn BENNETT's new album was born … rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis in Paris! Inspired by the sounds, images, smells, vibrations of the Big Easy (the nickname of New Orleans), Robyn Bennett and her accomplice Ben van Hille started writing GLOW with the common desire to return to their roots, to make music together, music that comes from the soul, that sounds authentic and goes straight to the gut.Like the music she sings, writes and composes, Robyn Bennett is a burst of joy with great sensitivity. In line with the great American voices, the beautiful redhead radiates contagious music, catchy melodies, simple and touching poetry.…

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Why are the European election panels empty of posters?

The European Election is the second biggest election in the world in terms of number of voters, only India has more. The objective is to elect the 751 members of the European parliament, thus it concerns 28 countries. There are 2686 candidates in France alone. Each list from all of the 34 parties presenting candidates must have 79 members alternating strictly between men and women. The lists are organized vertically following their leader. This is a proportional election, so according to the percentage of the vote won by the party the first X candidates of the list will go to parliament. In France a party must have at least 5% in order to win any seats; other countries do not have minimums or have lower minimum percentages. The French lists are required to have 79 members each just in case one list sweeps the vote and thus wins all of France seats (hard to imagine!). There is a complication (not just one) this year stemming from the Brexit. France currently has 75 seats, bu…

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More French entrepreneur families

The Despature Family – Damart Thermolactyl

More than 400 million pieces of Thermolactyl clothing have been sold since its invention in 1953. The story began with the Despature brothers who in 1950 inherited a fabric factory in Roubaix. Textile manufacturing was in decline and the three brothers got to thinking about how to save their business. Inspiration came via their aunt who had rheumatism and who talked about the virtues of triboelectricity (an electric charge generated by friction). The brothers invented a fabric that when in contact with the skin creates electrostatic warmth. It also did not retain dampness. Their invention took off. The first Parisian shop was opened in 1957 and in 1958 the radio station Europe 1 chose Thermolactyl, the first high tech fabric made in France, as one of the most innovative products... ever! Damart innovated again embracing the new technology of television and becoming one of the earliest TV advertisers. Their famous slogan “Froid,…

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Black History Month in Paris

Black History Month in Paris

Black History Month is each February. This year 2019 is particularly poignant as it marks the 400th anniversary of the beginning of slavery in America. Although France is certainly not without racism quite a number of Black Americans found their place in France and Paris. A few of this community include: these three women to whom we offer hommage.

Bessie Coleman

The story of Bessie Coleman, who made history by coming to France to earn her pilot's license in 1921 when no America flight school would admit a black woman, is inspiring. Coleman had heard about an aviation school at Le Crotoy in France. Focusing on her dream while working at a beauty salon in Chicago by day, she would study French at night. When race riots broke out in Chicago, Bessie Coleman made up her mind to use her small savings to cross the Atlantic and set up in the fishing village on the Somme Bay. There is a street named for her in Paris 20th. Rea…

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In nearly every French home you’ll find…

LA CHARENTAISE A charentaise is a generic French word for slipper. It refers however to a specific pantoufle, usually plaid, which came from the area near Angouleme in the Charente area of France about 300 years ago. The area had many paper mills. At the time paper was made from rags and leftover felt pieces from the papermaking were used to line wooden shoes, making them warmer and softer. A bit later a shoemaker from the town of La Rochefoucaud in the Charente had the idea to add a rigid sole to the felt clog liners thus creating the pantoufle charentaise. In the late 1980s the slipper industry produced 60 millions pairs per year – that works out to one pair per Français -- and exported them all over Europe.

QUECHUA The Quechua are a people from South America. But Decathlon used the name as a brand and it is one of Decathlon brands which you will see on tons of French sports gear. The brand was born on the slopes of Mount Bl…

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