Category Archive 'France'
08 Oct 2020

1896 Snowball Fight

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Original footage by the Lumière brothers, this snowball fight from Lyon, France in 1896 has been upscaled and colorized using the open-source AI tool, DeOldify, a deep learning-based project for colorizing and restoring old images and video.

HT: Vanderleun.

21 Sep 2020

Not Everybody Thinks That the Wheelgun is Obsolete

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The Trust Shot.

One day back in the 1980s, I stopped for a bite to eat at the Burger King in Brookfield, CT, and was astonished to see a local cop tricked out with an enormous Model 92 Beretta (the US service pistol) and carrying on his belt five 15-round magazines. We’re talking 91-rounds here altogether and a ton of weight to be lugging around all day. Such was the result of the police fashion that took hold in the latter decades of the last century, in which law enforcement agencies all over the country read up on two rather unusual (and very bloody) shootouts and responded by retiring all their six-shot .38 Special and .357 Magnum revolvers and switching over to Glocks and other semi-automatic pistols with large-capacity magazines.

You never know. A Zulu impi might show up at any time and you’ll need 91-rounds.

But not everyone thinks that way. It turns out that the deadly and elite French Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale (GIGN), the French tactical counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, and government official protection unit, sneers at semiautomatic pistols and makes a point of using .375 Magnum Manurhin MR 73 revolvers.

The Drive:

The Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale, better known by its abbreviated name GIGN, which translates to National Gendarmerie Intervention Group in English, remains France’s premier counter-terrorism and hostage rescue unit. Since its founding shortly after the terrorist acts in Munich in 1973, GIGN has risen to prominence among the world’s counter-terrorism community. But one piece of gear in particular not only differentiates the unit from others, but it is also deeply ingrained in its lore and tradition—the revolver, and in particular, the French-built Manurhin MR73. …

The revolvers are issued to each GIGN member for symbolic reasons as well as utilitarian ones. A passage from a 2014 issue of the official Gendarmerie information magazine states:

    “Respect of human life and fire discipline have always been taught to group members since inception, and each new member is traditionally issued with a 6 shot .357 revolver as a reminder of these values.”

GIGN’s deep relationship with the revolver gets pretty intense beyond any outright symbolism. Apparently, the unit still practices a ‘trust shot’ as part of new member initiations where a team member wearing body armor puts a clay pigeon over their center of mass and the newly minted GIGN operator shoots the disc from 15 yards.

RTWT

18 Jul 2020

Nantes Cathedral Object of Arsonist Attack

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This morning arsonists seriously damaged a 15th century instrument of white supremacy, the Cathedral of Nantes. It had survived the French Revolution, the Reign of Terror, Nazi bombing in WWII, and a 1972 fire.

BBC:

A fire at the cathedral in the French city of Nantes is believed to have been started deliberately, prosecutors say.

Three fires were started at the site and an investigation into suspected arson is under way, Prosecutor Pierre Sennes said.

The blaze destroyed stained glass windows and the grand organ at the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral, which dates from the 15th Century. …

The fire began in the early morning, with massive flames visible from outside the building. More than 100 firefighters brought it under control after several hours.

Mr Sennes said the national police would be involved in the investigation and a fire expert was travelling to Nantes

“When we arrive at a place where a fire has taken place, when you see three separate fire outbreaks, it’s a question of common sense, you open an investigation,” he said.

Newsagent Jean-Yves Burban said he heard a bang at about 07:30 local time (05:30 GMT) and saw flames when he went out to see what was happening.

“I am shook up because I’ve been here eight years and I see the cathedral every morning and evening. It’s our cathedral and I’ve got tears in my eyes,” he told Reuters.

Wikipedia article

02 Jan 2020

Last Duel in France Took Place in 1967

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Open Culture:

Another man insults your honor, leaving you no choice but to challenge him to a highly formalized fight to the death: in the 21st century, the very idea strikes us as almost incomprehensibly of the past. And dueling is indeed dead, at least in all the lands that historically had the most enthusiasm for it, but it hasn’t been dead for as long as we might assume. The last recorded duel performed not with pistols but swords (specifically épées, the largest type of swords used in fencing) took place in France in 1967 — the year of the Saturn V and the Boeing 737, the Detroit riots and the Six-Day War, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the Summer of Love.

The duelists were Marseilles mayor Gaston Defferre and another politician names Rene Ribière. “After a clash in the National Assembly, Defferre yelled ‘Taisez-vous, abruti!’ at Ribiere and refused to apologize,” writes professional stage-and-screen fight coordinator Jared Kirby. “Ribière challenged and Defferre accepted. The duel took place with épées in a private residence in Neuilly-sur-Seine, and it was officiated by Jean de Lipkowskiin.”

Heightening the drama, Ribière was to be married the following day, though he could expect to live to see his own wedding, Defferre having vowed not to kill him but “wound him in such a way as to spoil his wedding night very considerably.”

You can see the subsequent action of this relatively modern-day duel in the newsreel footage at the top of the post. Defferre did indeed land a couple of touches on Ribière, both in the arm. Ribière, the younger man by twelve years, seems to have taken the event even more seriously than Defferre: he insisted not only on using sharper épées than the ones Defferre originally offered, but on continuing the duel after Defferre first struck him. Lipkowskiin put an end to the combat after the second time, and both Defferre and Ribière went on to live full lives, the former into the 1980s and the latter into the 1990s. Just how considerable an effect Ribière’s dueling injuries had on his wedding night, however, history has not recorded.

28 Sep 2019

Presidents of France Shop Here

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If you were elected President of France (or staged a coup and became the next Emperor), there is a warehouse full of valuable antique furniture just waiting to decorate your personal digs.

Messy Nessy Chic

A sprawling Art Deco reinforced concrete building, casually tucked away in the quiet backstreets of Paris’ 13th arrondissement, has been guarding the furnishings of government buildings and royal residences since the dawn of the Second World War…

Behind its bunker-thick walls, you’ll find everything from the 82 foot-long 17th century carpet that was saved from the Notre Dame blaze, airing out in the main reserve, to a selection of 20th century presidential desks that reflect the changing tastes of each decade and leader.

When a new President comes into office, this is where they’ll come to decide what kind of furniture he (and hopefully one day, she) would like to decorate the Elysée with.

A large inventory of Napoleon’s foot stools sit under plastic sheeting beside a pre-revolutionary collection of royal vases crated away and carefully inventoried on industrial shelving. In the basement, you might find a stack a French flag poles and red carpets waiting to be pulled out of storage for Bastille Day or for the Queen of England’s next visit.

At the same time as carefully conserving over 130,000 decorative items; the reserve’s mission is also to restore and manufacture. The site is home to numerous artisanal workshops, where some of the nation’s finest craftsmen are busy at work, entrusted with fixing the minor wear and tear on an antique commode from a government waiting room to restoring priceless works of art rescued from beneath the collapsing roof of a national landmark.

RTWT

12 Sep 2019

Hunting in France

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French hunting is different. They call their hunts “Rallyes” or “Equipages.” Their hunt uniforms are more complicated. They use circular horns and lots of people carry horns where for us only the huntsman has a horn, and where our huntsman only blows a handful of conventional signals, they play fanfares. We hunt foxes and coyotes. They hunt hare, wild boar, roe deer, and even red deer. People too old to ride car follow over here. In France, they have a load of bicycle followers.

28 Jul 2019

Photos from Brittany

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Hounds, hunting, farming, looks like I could live there. Guardian photo essay.

21 Jul 2019

Comparison

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17 Jun 2019

The Nemrod Toggle Action Fusil Superposé (Over-and-Under Shotgun)

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On the Double Gun Discussion Board, there recently was a short discussion of the Nemrod Toggle Action Fusil Superposé (Over-and-Under Shotgun), a strange and interesting contrivance out of St. Etienne.

There’s one of these cool guns for sale right now on the French Outdoor Auction site Natura Buy for €1100, not a totally appalling price, but unfortunately we lost our Freedom long ago and Big Brother won’t allow you or me to import a firearm. No, no, no! We have to use a specialized importer who, poor chap! must fill out forms roughly the size of the Holy Bible and must grovel to the minimum wage security staff at Customs. Consequently, his service fee is large, typically about a grand a gun.

Last 20th of September a similar gun went for a mere £600 (plus buyer’s premium, I expect) at Holt’s.

09 Jun 2019

Book Thief

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Stanislas Gosse, a low-paid teacher from a Strasburg engineering school, successfully removed the most valuable treasures from the collection of the Abbey of Sainte Odile over a period of years. He didn’t try selling them. He was just a connoisseur of books.

Pocket Worthy:

On May 19, near 7 p.m., Stanislas Gosse drove his Citroën to Mont Sainte-Odile. He brought ropes, three suitcases, gray plastic bags and a flashlight. Once inside the main courtyard, he headed straight to the second floor of the Sainte-Odile aisle of the guesthouse. He walked down a corridor, opened a door using a key pinched during a previous trip, and found himself in the church’s bell tower.

He tied the ropes to a wooden beam above a trapdoor in the floor and climbed down into a dark, windowless room of about 10 feet by 10 feet with a short 7-foot ceiling. Through an opening in the wall, he slipped into a second, narrow room. A dim light filtered through cracks in the lower part of a wall. The thief gently slid two wooden panels open, revealing rows of neatly lined up books on two shelves inside a cupboard. He took the books off, then one shelf, before sneaking inside the library. At the library in Strasbourg, he had found what he had been looking for in an article from a local history journal that mentioned a secret passage, unknown to anyone currently working at the abbey, except Dietrich, the janitor. It had probably once been used as a hiding place for the monks or as an ossuary — a place to store bones.

Gosse selected a few books, wrapped them in plastic bags, then crawled back inside the cupboard. In the second room, he flipped a wooden crate, climbed on it and hauled the bags through the hatch onto the attic. He climbed up the rope, moved the books to a nearby table to clear the hatch, and climbed back down. He repeated the operation eight times throughout the evening. By the time he was done, more than a hundred books were stacked up in the attic. Around 2 a.m., he stuffed the suitcases with books and left them behind, planning to pick them up later.

RTWT

18 Apr 2019

“Simply a Construction Accident”

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Roger Kimball admires the rapidity with which the French authorities definitively determined that Notre Dame fire was an accident and not another case of deliberate arson.

“Auric Goldfinger, in the Ian Fleming novel, dryly observes to James Bond that “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.”

The French investigators have such extraordinary powers of forensic penetration that they can dispense with all such inductive aids to inquiry. Here they have not one, not two or three, but twelve acts of violent desecration in the past month, including an arsonist attack against the second largest church in Paris. Then Notre Dame catches fire—and what a fire it was—on Monday of Holy Week. Even before the fire was brought under control, the authorities ruled out arson. Has the world ever seen a more potent demonstration of investigative prowess?”

RTWT

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On FB, Matthew Keogh said:

Notre Dame Cathedral Fire, a few facts you should know courtesy of the mainstream media:

1. The exact cause of the blaze is still unknown.

2. The exact cause of the blaze is still unknown, but it has been ruled an accident (despite the fact that the exact cause of the blaze is still unknown).

3. The exact cause of the blaze is still unknown, but Islam is the real victim here.

4. The exact cause of the blaze is still unknown which means the damage has not been thoroughly assessed, but it’s not arson.

5. The exact cause of the blaze is still unknown which means the damage has not been thoroughly assessed, but Macron is setting up an international appeal for funding to rebuild despite not knowing how much is needed because the damage has not been thoroughly assessed.

This is the sort of information you get when journalists are in bed with the politicians.

19 Dec 2018

Hollow Way

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A hollow way (chemin creux) at La Meauffe, Manche, France

Appearing like trenches dragged into the earth, sunken lanes, also called hollow-ways or holloways, are centuries-old thoroughfares worn down by the traffic of time.

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