Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Guide to France

I know it's a classic, but I still like it very much (Thanks to O.)

The following advice for American travelers going to France wascompiled from information provided by the U.S. State Department, theCIA, the U.S . Chamber of Commerce, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and some really, really expensive spysatellites that the French don't know about. It is intended as aguide for American travelers only.

** General Overview
France is a medium-sized foreign country situated in the continent ofEurope. It is an important member of the world community, though notnearly as important as it thinks. It is bounded by Germany, Spain, Switzerland and some smaller nations of no particular importance andwith no decent shops. France is a very old country with manytreasures, such as the Louvre and Euro Disney. Among itscontributions to western civilization are champagne, Camembert cheese and the guillotine. Although France likes to think of itself as amodern nation, air conditioning is little used and it is next toimpossible for Americans to get decent Mexican food. One continuing exasperation for American visitors is that local people insist onspeaking in French, though many WILL speak English, if shouted at.

** People
France has a population of 56 million people. 52 million of these drink and smoke (the other 4 million are small children). All Frenchpeople drive like lunatics, are dangerously oversexed, and have noconcept of standing patiently in a queue, or line. The French people are in general, gloomy, temperamental, proud, arrogant, aloof andundisciplined; and those are their good points. Most French citizensare Roman Catholic, though you would hardly guess it from their behavior. Many people are communists. Men sometimes have girls' nameslike Marie or Michel, and they kiss each other when they meet.American travelers are advised to travel in groups and wear baseball caps and colorful trousers for easier recognition.

** Safety
In general, France is a safe destination, although travelers must beaware that from time to time it is invaded by Germany. Traditionally, the French surrender immediately and, apart from a temporary shortageof Scotch whisky and the increased difficulty in getting baseballscores and stock market prices, life for the American visitor generally goes on much as before. A tunnel connecting France toBritain beneath the English channel has been opened in recent yearsto make it easier for the French government to flee to London during future German invasions.

** History
France's historical figures are Louis XIV, the Huguenots, Joan ofArc, Jacques Cousteau and Charles de Gaulle, who was President for many years and is now an airport.

** Government
The French form of government is democratic but noisy. Elections areheld more or less continuously and always result in a draw. The French love administration so for governmental purposes, the countryis divided into regions, departments, districts, municipalities,towns, communes, villages, cafes, and telephone kiosks. Each of these has its own government and elections. Parliament consists of twochambers, the Upper and Lower (though confusingly they are both onthe ground floor), and whose members are either Gaullists orCommunists, neither of whom should be trusted by the traveler.Parliament's principal occupation is setting off atomic bombs in theSouth Pacific and acting indignant and surprised when other countries complain. According to the most current American State Departmentintelligence, the President is now someone named Jacques. Furtherinformation is not available at this time.

** Culture
The French pride themselves on their culture, though it is not easyto see why. All their music sounds the same and they have never madea movie that you would want to watch for anything but the nude scenes.

** Cuisine
Let's face it, no matter how much garlic you put on it, a snail isjust a slug with a shell on its back. Croissants on the other hand,are excellent, although it is impossible for most Americans to pronounce this.

** Economy
France has a large and diversified economy, second only to Germany'sin Europe, which is surprising because the French hardly work at all.If they are not spending four hours dawdling over lunch, they are onstrike and blocking the roads with their trucks and tractors.France's principal exports, in order of importance to the economy, are wine, nuclear weapons, perfume, guided missiles, champagne, guns,grenade launchers, land mines, tanks, attack aircraft, miscellaneousarmaments and cheese.

** Public Holidays
France has more holidays than any other nation in the world. Amongits 361 national holidays are: 197 Saints' days, 37 NationalLiberation Days, 16 Declaration of Republic Days, 54 Return of Charles de Gaulle in triumph as if he won the war single-handedDays,18 Napoleon sent into Exile Days, 17 Napoleon Called Back from ExileDays, and 2 France is Great and the Rest of the World is Rubbish Days.

** Conclusion
France enjoys a rich history, a picturesque and varied landscape, anda temperate climate. In short, it would be a very nice country if French people did not inhabit it. The best thing that can be said for France is that it is not Germany.