Posts tagged “nicolas sarkozy

A Drop in the Bucket for Austerity

Posted on May 2, 2013

Photo: Paige Bowers

Photo: Paige Bowers

This week the Elysee Palace announced it would be auctioning off 1,200 bottles of wine from its cellars, which are known for stocking the best of the best vintages France has to offer. The state plans to pay down some of its debt with the proceeds from this auction, but, as The New York Times writes, the move amounts to little more than “highly exclusive drops” in the bucket.

The Times provided a taste of the bottles up for bidding:

Among the wines to be auctioned at the end of the month at the Hôtel Drouot, through the Paris auction house Kapandji Morhange, are three bottles of 1990 Château Petrus, estimated to be worth $3,000 to $3,400 a bottle, and a 1998 Meursault Premier Cru, a fine white burgundy. There will also be bottles of 1975 Château Lafite Rothschild, estimated at more than $1,000 each, and 1985 Krug Champagne, as well as Champagne from Salon, some of the world’s rarest and most expensive.

In general, the best bottles are served to heads of state and monarchs. When President George W. Bush made his last visit to France in 2008, Mr. Sarkozy, who like Mr. Bush does not drink alcohol, served Château Mouton Rothschild to his guests.

The chief sommelier of the Élysée, Virginie Routis, who was appointed in 2007, selected the bottles to be sold. They make up just a tenth of the presidential cellars, which were established in 1947. Lesser bottles will be sold, too, with some expected to start at as little as $20 and many available for less austere prices of under $130.

President Francois Hollande plans to serve more modestly priced wines to his guests. No word yet on what those are, but the Times offered an interesting glimpse of past presidential favorites. According to the article, Francois Mitterand, a fellow Socialist, loved Burgundy, one of the world’s most expensive wines. Georges Pompidou loved Chasse-Spleen, a red Medoc whose name means “to chase away the blues.” And Jacques Chirac drank beer in public, but Dom Perignon in private, an interesting fact, given his history.

Three Strong Women

Posted on September 19, 2012



The French Ministry of Immigration in 2009 opened a national discussion on what it meant to be French. The previous year, an estimated 11.8 million immigrants lived within the country’s borders, the bulk of them (around 40 percent) settling in or around Paris. In 2005, two immigrant boys were electrocuted while they hid from police in a power substation. Paris rioted, both about the deaths and the larger issue of how immigrants don’t experience liberte, egalite or fraternite once they arrive in France.

In a country with tough anti-immigration laws, critics believed the 2009 identity debates were more about exclusion than integration. After all, anti-Muslim tirades spilled onto the immigration ministry’s web site as soon as it was opened up to commenters.

Oddly enough, in that same year Marie Ndiaye won the Prix Goncourt for her novel Three Strong Women. Ndiaye, whose mother is French and father is Senegalese, became both the most widely-read author in the country and the most controversial, largely because she called President Nicolas Sarkozy’s anti-immigration policies “monstrous.” In response, a member of the French parliament wrote an open letter that said Goncourt winners should respect national cohesion or remain silent. Fortunately for readers trying to understand the realities of multiracial France, her book has been translated into English, making that silence impossible.

Three Strong Women involves three interconnected — but uneven — tales about women straddling the divide between Africa and Europe. The first is about Norah,

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