Carrefour Echirolles

May 15, 2010

C’est quand même incroyable.

Après avoir été harcélé/agressé verbalement plusieurs fois par un employée du magasin (“On ferme…” au moment de l’annonce “notre magasin ferme dans 15 minutes”, ensuite–alors que je cours, litéralement–“Je vous ai dit que le magasin fermait, maintenant c’est fermé!” au moment de l’annoce “dix minutes”. ), j’en parle avec un “responsable”. J’exprime mon mécontentement avec ce genre de traitement… “Bon, c’est peut-être un malentendu, ce n’est pas bien grave, n’est-ce pas ?”, et quand j’explique que j’étais très stressé quand même par cette expérience… “Vous êtes peut-être un peu sensible”… Bah, peut-être, mais ça fait dix ans que je fréquente ce magasin, et ça ne m’est jamais arrivé avant ce soir…”Vous savez, on n’a pas l’habitude de gens sensible dans notre magasin” (petit sourire de sa part… se réfère-t-il au teint de la majorité de la clientèe ?).

Ensuite j’ai fait la grave erreur de dire “je suis américain, et chez nous le client n’a pas l’habitude de…”

“Oh je connais l’amérique, je connais très bien. Je ne suis pas pour l’amérique, pas du tout pour. Je connais ces histoires de fonds de pensions…” Je n’ai pas su répondre.

Tout cela, avec le responsable, c’est passé poliment. Après avoir passer cinq minutes à la queue, je paie mes 87€ et je repars comme un con. Stressé pour un rien, apparémment.


Warm days = smoke

May 3, 2010

Beautiful weather has arrived, and within days the smell of garden waste being burned in backyards wafts across Grenoble. Basically, there’s about 2 months a year when you don’t smell smoke almost daily (1 in Spring, 1 in Fall). But the garden waste fires are generally less offensive that the fireplace ones in winter… They tend to burn quickly and people don’t seem to use chemical starters outdoors as they do in their fireplaces…

Le bruit et surtout les odeurs

March 23, 2010

Below Mr. Chirac talks in 1991 about how foreigners defraud the government and make honest French folk miserable with their noise and odors. Well, I’ve got news for you, it’s those good ol’ white French folk who have made my life miserable for a good part of the 10 years that I’ve been here. In particular their panoply of offensive odors, be they from perfumes, cleaning products, laundry detergents, scented candles, cigarettes, burned food, gasoline, paints, solvents, leaking home heating fuel tanks, and of course the ever present burning of garden waste and/or uncured wood, and the occasional tires or even complete car. Bref c’est les français de souche, dans mon expérience, qui générent des odeurs insupportables, à devenir fou.

Foreigners at least cook things that smell good. With spices and the like, not just salt and fat. And I think many try to avoid the heavy perfumed products, but unfortunately there isn’t much choice in the matter (Supermarkets in France do not offer a single unfragranced laundry detergent; you can only find them in Organic stores.)

New building, same outrageousness

March 23, 2010

Horrid stale tobacco combined with bizarre cleaning product smells wafting up from downstairs neighbors this week, through the windows, and today could barely exit my apartment because my same-level neighbor’s turbo-fragranced laundry detergent (at least I believe that to be the source) passes through her front door to contaminate the closed, unventilated landing that leads to stairs and elevator doors. At first I believed the smell to come from the floor cleaning products used by the cleaning people, but I’ve come to realize that it comes instead from my neighbor’s flat. Amazing. How can anyone possibly survive breathing that stuff full force day in, day out without developping acute asthma? Kudos to their immune system! As for the purely aesthetic aspect, I gather they have zero sense of smell, because their oven smokes out MY kitchen every time they use it, and occassionally they cook this god awful rotten meat, just putrid smelling stuff, unimaginably putrid. (I’m trying to seal off my kitchen from theirs to avoid having to deal with these odors–but the landing laundry fragrance problem, no way of escaping that).

Oh, by the way, these are very white French people. In fact almost all of the smell and odor problems in France that I’ve had over the years are with white French, “de souche” as they like to say here. Why do I mention this fact? Well, see my next post please!

Careful when you take your car to the shop!

January 29, 2010

Incredible but true: you take your car to the Renault shop in Grenoble for some work  (in this case rear bumper), you pick it up, it looks great on outside, but inside it smells like somebody poured out a can of solvent!!! My god, you say, what is it? Your wife didn’t think to ask at the shop, so you search around under the seats and what not thinking maybe a solvent rag was left behind, then you notice that the child seats smell quite strongly, so the only explanation has to be air freshener. First of all, wtf would they spray air freshener in the first place, and secondly air freshener that smells like triclorethylene or some other sort of highly toxic solvent??? Are they completely MAD? And of course it’s the middle of winter, with temperatures below 0° C, and you have to drive around town with your windows wide open in order not to be intoxicated. And the smell lasts for several days, with windows widely-cracked open 24 hours a day.

So next time you take your car to a shop in France, be sure to tape a note on the dashboard saying:

 “Pas de parfum d’ambiance, pas de neutralizateur d’odeur, aucun produit de nettoyage, AUCUN produit à l’intérieur de l’habitacle de la voiture. SVP !!!!”

(By the way, beware of their windshield spray products too. Outrageously perfumed of course, so I have to use plain water with vineager or rubbing alcohol. You may want to put a note under hood saying “N’ajouter aucun produit de lavage de parebrise, SVP !!!”)

Fragrance equals clean, but of course!

January 17, 2010

I heard this argument yet again in my new building, from the cleaning guy, as he was mopping the entrance floor today:

(paraphasing) “Yes, I understand the smell (fragrance) bothers you, but most people like it, because when they smell that smell they know that we’ve been by to clean the floors.”

I’ve heard this at least 4 times now, in four different locations.

This is typical French marketing/sales BS. In other words, the cleaning product makers tell potential customers, “Oh, you need a strong smelling, long lasting smell cleaner, because otherwise people will think you didn’t clean the floors”. (And of course ours smells stronger and lasts longer than the competition’s!) And the French are absolute suckers for any such BS sales argument. (It’s really unbelievable how gullible French can be, but that’s another story.)

And you can easily imagine the nod and wink about how, well, sometimes you miss a day of cleaning here or there, for reasons beyond your control, of course, and well, what they don’t know won’t hurt them, and after all the fragrance will still be there 5 days later…

Hideous Madeleine Fragrance of the Paris Metro

October 13, 2009

I don’t know if the obnoxious fragrance “Madeleine” (made by Quest International) is still in use in the Paris Metro. I had the misfortune of being in Paris when it was introduced in 1998. I wrote to the communications director of the Metro to tell her that I had asthma and that their fragrance was quite irritating and causing me distress. She wrote back saying that 4 out of 5 persons tested liked the scent (as compared to what I wondered, but never pursued the matter).  Anyway, the fragrance continued unabated until I left Paris sometime around 2000.

I just came across an old BBC report saying that the same crap was tested in the London underground in 2001. Not BBC but another source indicates it was pulled after 1 day because it was making people ill!


only in france

September 4, 2009

will you find in some supermarkets, not all but some, like “Simply” in Grenoble, butter whose wrapper paper smells extremely strongly of laundry detergent perfume. Ridiculous, I know, but very true.

Picture worth 1000 words

July 30, 2009

Here’s a map of oral cavity and pharynx cancer in Europe, from the IARC’s 2008 report,, page 171

Red is highest, green the lowest cancer rates. Description talks about smoking and drinking, but I really don’t think that’s sufficient to explain what you see. I’m convinced that it’s the French love affair with toxic chemicals! France is number 3 in Europe for incidence of all cancers in males, while only 13th, thankfully, for women. I would suggest this relates to professional exposures and/or the very toxic “bricolage” (DIY) techniques.

See this excellent site for all Europe data:,en

Europe oral cavity and pharynx cancer map

Europe oral cavity and pharynx cancer map_legend

Merci Deco 38

July 28, 2009

Incroyable, un mois de paix dans mon nouveau immeuble, et qui débarque ? Deco38 ou Deco 38. Ils refont le halle de l’immeuble à côté, et puisque c’est la même copropriété, ils ont le droit de stocker leur peinture et outils dans notre “local à poussettes”. Très bien, sauf qu’ils laissent leur seaux ouverts, et notamment leur seaux de white spirits pour tremper leurs outils, et les odeurs de solvent rendent le local inutilisable, à ne pas parler du risque d’incendie, et bien sûr les odeurs qui montent dans la cage d’escalier. Très agréable et sain. Merci les gars. Après mainte appels et méls, même auprès de Qualibat, dont Deco 38 porte le label, ça continue. Impossible de faire en sorte qu’ils ferment, après leur journée de travail, les seaux avec des couvercles ; on entend “on n’a plus les couvercles d’origine” et on est censé croire qu’une boîte qui fait essentiellement de la peinture ne peut pas en trouver.  Pire, ça dure et ça dure. Je ne peux pas croire que repeindre les murs d’un halle pas très grand peut prendre un mois et demi !

On a quand même eu un peu de chance, car les travaux du halle à côté ont dégagé et dégagent encore des odeurs toxique pas possible. A priori cela n’est pas leur faute, mais il souligne un grand problème en France, le fait que beaucoup de gens s’en foutent complètement de la toxicité des produits qu’ils utilisent. Ils veulent juste que les résultats soient “jolis”. Comme mon ex voisin m’a dit, “on ne peux pas arrêter de vivre”. Justement…