A one-man band
under the Pont des Arts. He was so
good that Tom put some money in his tophat.
Gift shop for
the Tour d’Argent (extremely expensive and old restaurant).
A large sign
being put up on the Pompidou
seems to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown brought on by a series of
humiliating losses. And the losses
continue to pile up. First there was
the NO vote on May 29, whereby most people in France said NO to the EU
constitution, in spite of what the French elite wanted. Then there was the loss of the 2012 Olympic
Games. Then there is the fact that the
French racers are not doing all that well in the Tour de France. And Thursday I told you about the potential
loss of Danone, one of France’s
industrial gems, to that “mastodon,” PepsiCo, an evil American empire.
Now the French
are losing their old National Printing House (l’Imprimerie Nationale) and
maybe Taittinger Champagne. The Airbus-Boeing case is opening at the
World Trade Organization, and the French may well lose that battle, too.
First, let me
clear up a few misconceptions about Danone.
While the French consider it to be a French company, and a leader in
“innovation,” the historical facts paint another picture. The company was founded in 1919 in SPAIN by a Jewish businessman named Isaac
Carasso who came from GREECE. The INNOVATION was his ability to combine
an industrial process for yogurt production with traditional GREEK
recipes. He accomplished this while in
In 1929, his
son, Daniel Carasso, moved to France. But he could not stay for all that many
years because when the Nazi’s occupied France, the French government
went along with the Nazi effort to round up all the French Jews and send them
to death camps. So Daniel escaped from
hostile France and went to
where he was treated much better. He
made yogurt in the U.S.
under the name of Dannon. He left
Danone in the hands of trustworthy friends.
felt safe enough to return to France
in 1951. He revived Danone through a
series of MERGERS and ACQUISITIONS.
Daniel no longer runs Danone.
He is almost 100 years old, and he attributes his long life to eating
yogurt, which is a GREEK food.
So, with this
history and with 80 percent of its operations now conducted outside of France,
Danone is more appropriately called a multinational company, and it always
has been from its start. With its
history of mergers and acquisitions, it would not be unheard of for it to be
acquired by another conglomerate.
The fear that
PepsiCo may acquire Danone is based solely on rumors. Danone’s stock has gone up as a result,
even though its profits are declining.
Let’s watch to see who might try to benefit from the current situation
by selling their stock . . . .
On to the next
loss – the Imprimerie nationale, or National Printing House. It is a huge 38,000 square meter brick
building here in the 15th arrondissement on the rue de la
Convention. I’d say it was built in
the early 20th century.
There is a nice garden in front, with a fine statue of Guttenberg in
the middle. The Imprimerie used to
print documents such as fiduciaries, drivers licenses, identity cards,
examinations, and something important called “l’annuaire,” which also happens
to be what the phone book (white pages) is called. Maybe it is the same thing, I’m not
still prints art books, art prints, special stamps, etc. There are a few newer outposts of the
Imprimerie near the banlieue, and I believe those will remain in operation. Only the old central Imprimerie has been
worst: It has been sold to an AMERICAN
investment company that will turn the structure into an office building! The essential part of the building will
remain because it is classed as a historic monument. Le
Parisien states, “But its life will disappear. The blue shirts will be replaced by
neckties, and the odor of ink will be replaced by computer screens.”
They still use
Linotype machines with real lead type at the Imprimerie! Up until July 30, that is.
was started by Francois the 1st.
Back then, 230,000 engravers made deluxe works using French, Greek,
Hebrew, Tibetan, and other alphabets – 64 languages in all. After the Revolution, the Imprimerie was
used as a communication tool to publish all the new rules and
regulations. By 1904, all the
government printing and the printing for government-owned operations (such as
the utility Electricité de France) came from the Imprimerie. “It was a real monopoly,” recalls Loïc de
la Cochetière, the CEO of the Imprimerie.
On to the next loss. The Taittinger family, of champagne fame,
needs to sell its company for tax reasons.
It is probably going to be sold to an AMERICAN investment company, Starwood
Capital, which is mainly interested in the chain of economy hotels that
Taittinger owns. There is a
possibility that the champagne part of the company will be sold back to a
French company. Stay tuned . . . .
We dined at
La Petite Ferme last night at 8:30 (32 rue Fremicourt, Telephone 01-53-69-01-09). It is such a good value – a three course
fixed price dinner for only 18 euros, and the wine is reasonable, too. The fare is hearty, country-style food –
too copious for me to finish everything on the plate. We were almost finished with dessert when
what was to be a group of 7 young people turned suddenly into a group of 18
at 10PM. Instead of lingering, we left
so they’d have enough room. They were
having a great time, and one of them was trying in vain to get his friends to
be quieter. An older couple who are
friends of the chef were not amused at all with their noise and
conviviality. But we were. There was another table of 5 young men who
also came in to dine fairly late. It
is great to see so many 20-somethings interested in eating “correctly” at a
proper French restaurant. I’d say the
will be in good hands, and will remain very French, no matter how much change
they must endure in the meantime.