Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

No strategy and a beige suit

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014

Read more

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

  • EU leaders choose Tusk and Mogherini for top jobs, discuss Russia sanctions

    Read more

  • Dozens of UN peacekeepers still held by Syrian jihadists

    Read more

  • Opposition protesters clash with Pakistani police outside PM's house

    Read more

  • Austerity row overshadows French Socialist’s annual rally

    Read more

  • Egypt sentences Brotherhood leader Badie to life

    Read more

  • Ceasfire allows Gaza families to relax on the beach

    Read more

  • S. Africa condemns 'military coup' in Lesotho

    Read more

  • Kerry calls for 'coalition of nations' to battle IS militants

    Read more

  • Ukrainian plane with seven on board crashes in Algeria

    Read more

  • Exclusive: Fabius warns Russia of more sanctions

    Read more

  • IMF backs Lagarde amid French corruption probe

    Read more

  • Ebola drug ‘ZMapp’ heals all monkeys in study

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Police hunt for British boy with brain tumour taken to France

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • Suriname leader’s son pleads guilty to courting Hezbollah

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

France

No laptop or condoms: Frenchman tries lifestyle entirely ‘made in France’

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-03-20

In a globalised France, where hamburgers are a culinary craze, people queue to see the latest US blockbuster and Levis are the brand of choice for jeans, is it possible to live a 100% French life?

That was the challenge tackled by Benjamin Carle, a 25-year-old journalist who decided to spend nine months eating, wearing, buying and using only French-made products. A documentary chronicling his experience aired on French cable channel Canal+ on March 19, and has kick-started a conversation about French identity.

On a budget of only 1,800 euros (2,480 US dollars) per month, Carle travelled around the country, immersing himself in a culture with which he says it’s easy to lose touch – especially as a young person in France today.

By turning his camera on his experiment, Carle explores a range of social, cultural, political and economic questions: What are the strengths and weaknesses of French industries? Can the French economy be saved if everyone makes an effort to buy French products? Can France progress scientifically, technologically and culturally without relying on foreign influences and collaboration?

Some of the conclusions he drew from his nine-month stint as an “economic patriot” were bleak.

“I feel like in France, we don’t really reinvent ourselves,” Carle told weekly magazine L’Express in an interview published on Wednesday. “The only products we still manufacture here are those that most characterise us as French…in terms of clothing, for example, it’s sweaters and Breton sailor jerseys [navy and white striped knitted shirts]. The rest, T-shirts and pants, are all designed abroad.”

That said, Carle told L’Express, typical French clothing is hardly out of fashion. “Wearing only French-manufactured clothing could actually become a hipster thing,” he said.

No condoms, but lots of ‘Happy Meals’

Aside from his favourite pair of jeans, other things Carle had to forgo were his cell phone, laptop and condoms, none of which, apparently, are manufactured in France. “But we do make lubricant!” he added in an interview with culture site La Trempe.

Inspired by a call from Socialist politician Arnaud Montebourg, France’s minister for economic renewal, Carle quickly realized that helping renew the economy also meant renewing his ties to his own culture.

In interviews with the press, the young man described how buying only regional French food products (“produits du terroir”, as the French call them) forced him to cook, and in turn inspired him to take his time savouring the meal – a French tradition.

He has also said that he was surprised by the places he was able to find meals that were made exclusively from French products. In Paris’s ethnically diverse Belleville neighbourhood, Carle noted that two spots were reliable in offering 100% French meals: a “banh mi” shop, which prepared the famous Vietnamese sandwiches using baguettes from the bakery next door, French-raised beef, French-grown carrots, and a homemade mayonnaise made from French eggs; and McDonald’s, where the meat and potatoes are all from France.

“You have a better chance of eating local food in a McDonald’s than in a bad brasserie that serves reheated frozen meals,” he told L’Express.

Perhaps the most extreme part of Carle’s project was his mission to rid his daily speech of any “Anglicisms”. For example, he replaced the English word “cool”, now commonly used in French, with “chouette”, a quaint colloquialism that roughly translates as “neat”.

But most daunting of all, he has said, was altering his listening, reading and viewing habits. Deprived of David Bowie, Carle turned to French singers like Jacno and Johnny Hallyday. He read a lot of Montaigne. And he watched lots of films directed by Jean-Luc Godard or starring French comic Pierre Richard.

Carle’s main regret, he told L’Express, was not being able to go see Hollywood thriller “Gravity” in 3D.

 

Date created : 2014-03-20

  • FRANCE

    ‘F*** tourism’ tagged on entrance to Sacré-Coeur in Paris

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    A tale of two women: Paris set to get first female mayor

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Gloves off as Paris pollution dirties city’s mayoral debate

    Read more

COMMENT(S)