By Jean-Benoit Nadeau

The French...-Smoke, drink and devour extra fats than an individual on the planet, but stay longer and feature fewer cardiovascular disease than Americans-Work 35-hour weeks, and take seven weeks of paid vacation trips according to 12 months, yet are nonetheless the world's fourth-biggest financial powerSo what makes the French so different?Sixty Million Frenchmen cannot be mistaken is a trip into the French center, brain and soul. Decrypting French principles approximately land, privateness and language, Nadeau and Barlow weave jointly the threads of French society--from centralization and the Napoleonic Code to elite schooling or even highway protests--giving us, for the 1st time, a whole photograph of the French."[A] readable and insightful piece of work." --Montreal Mirror"In an period of irrational reactions to all issues French, here's an eminently rational resolution to the query, 'Why are the French like that?'" --Library Journal"A must-read." --Edmonton magazine

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Demanding candy via a legally recognized, police-escorted manifestation made more sense to the French, even when they were just having fun. So much for trying to teach an old country new tricks. (chapter 2) The Land on Their Mind Late in the morning of August 12, 1999, a rag-tag procession of French sheep farmers’ families gathered in Renaults and Citroens on the edge of the Larzac Plateau in Southern France. Idling behind four tractor-trailers, they rolled down the slope of the plateau toward Millau, a town of twentyfive thousand dug deep in the Tarn River Canyon.

But neglecting to say bonjour to a clerk when entering a department did guarantee us bad service. The bonjour/au revoir ritual is one way to secure goodwill from the French. Handshaking is another. Employees of companies have to go through the routine of shaking hands with everyone at the office when they come in and when they leave. The behavior was reproduced almost exactly by the members of Jean-Benoît’s hiking club. Before heading out on an expedition everyone shook hands or kissed, and they did it again before leaving.

Later that fall, we visited Larzac and met the other farmers who were jailed after the McDonald’s sacking. The fastest route to Larzac is a good ten hours from Paris, but it turned out to be time very well spent because in Larzac we discovered that Bové’s protest and growing personality cult were less about globalization than they were about the peculiar relationship the French have with their land. In Larzac, farmers carry out their business pretty much the way it’s always been done, on family farms of a couple hundred sheep each, feeding their stock mainly what they grow on their own land.

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