Six milles pas

Walking in Paris

Photo courtesy of Tristan

The revelation came last week: the French must walk 6,000 steps each day. Mais bon dieu! What has the world come to when even le Président de la République uses a step counter?

Under medical advice from French TV personality, Michel Cymes, it seems that François Hollande is counting his steps to keep fit. If he already had an image problem thanks to his yo-yo dieting and being driven around on a giant tricycle to see his paramour, I’m not sure that using a step counter is going to help. Nonetheless, it was an opportunity to get the healthy lifestyle message across to the notoriously resistant French

I’m not sure what possessed me to get a fitness tracker. I saw all those cool wrist bands people were wearing and thought, why not? Maybe it will inspire me to go a bit further in my regular if uninspired workouts. So I got one for my birthday last year.

My Fitbit (pronunciation in French: Feet-beet? Really?) has now been gathering dust on my dresser for the last few months. Essentially, it is more work than it’s worth. When it’s not buzzing to announce another milestone (10,000 steps!), the stupid thing requires constant charging and syncing and updating. It is yet another form of digital slavery. It doesn’t work on a bicycle or an elliptical trainer and you can’t wear it swimming. At the very least I thought it would have a GPS chip. When I mentioned this to my two tech whizzes (business intelligence husband and software engineer son), I was informed that I am naïve and overly demanding. Yep, that about sums it up.

As for the French, it seems their battle against inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle has just begun. Contrary to their reputation for biking around with baguettes under their arm, my compatriots don’t actually get out and about so much these days. Like most of us, they spend their days sitting in front of computers and in transport, not to mention at table.

6,000 steps is only about 30 minutes of walking a day. It may not be enough to combat all that food and wine but I’m willing to bet we see more French people counting steps.

What about you? Do you use a step counter or other fitness device?

The new face of France

femen_montage--672x359Meet the new Marianne.

She’s the official emblem of France and represents its ideal of female beauty.

Her effigy is shown on stamps, coins, statues and other symbols of la république française.

She wasn’t born yesterday. ‘La Marianne’ first came to life back in the days of the French Revolution. An allegory for Liberty and Reason, she is traditionally shown wearing a Phyrgian or liberty cap. She is said to have been the inspiration for Delacroix’s painting, ‘Liberty leading the people.delacroix

She’s had a few facelifts since then.

Famous Mariannes in recent history have included Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, Sophie Marceau and Laetitia Casta (a lovely Corsican, as mentioned in my recent blog post).

When the new Marianne was unveiled in July, she created quite the stir. Not that unusual in a country that loves a good polémique. What is somewhat striking is that the model chosen to represent the French Republic is not French, although she was recently granted political asylum in this country. Inna Shevchenko hails from Ukraine, and is a member of Femen, the topless women’s activist group known for baring their breasts to publicize their cause. The fact that they are all attractive young damsels certainly has not hurt their case, especially in France where an appreciation of the female anatomy is considered entirely normal.

Still, it is hard to imagine what Francois Hollande and the mayors of France were thinking. Okay, so the tradition of the Marianne continues…fair of face, bare-breasted and with a strong revolutionary streak.

Mais quand-même, messieurs et mesdames…is this really the image we want to represent France as a nation?


Official logo of the French Republic showing the « Liberté, égalité, fraternité » motto underneath a profile of Marianne.