Made in France

For some time now I’ve been feeling uneasy as I walk down the street and see nothing at all which is made here, in France. The numbers of those out of work continue to grow. Unemployment in France is fed by outsourcing to China, India, Morocco, Eastern Europe etc. I’ve tried to discuss this with French friends but it’s a delicate subject which sometimes brings heated response.
As I sit here typing I can see nothing whatsoever made in France on the work table in front of me. Not a pen, not the lamp, not the water bottle, not the visiting cards (they came from Belgium 🙂 ). Nothing.
The other day I watched a documentary called “Made In France” by Benjamin Carle, who lived for a year using only French products.
The Guardian wrote an excellent article about it. Here’s the link: Made in France.
It wasn’t easy for Mr. Carle. There are no more French fridges, no more cellphones or computers, no nail clippers, no jeans etc. The list is long. An abject lesson on the disintegration of French industry. There are probably similar films about Italy or the UK.Benjamin Carl after“Benjamin Carle with his cat Loon and what was left after his detox from foreign-made goods. Photograph: Xavier Lahache. “ From the Guardian article.

While manufacturing costs here are astronomical, according to the documentary in many cases the consumer price point for the French object, where it still exists, and the imported variant is not that different. It’s just that the importers take a higher margin.

That said, in the film they show a French company which makes and markets excellent toothbrushes (29 jobs). It’s the last toothbrush company in the country. They looked really good but when I went to buy one I found not a single distributor in Paris itself!
If I can figure out how I’ll start an online shop and sell them to you!

CafĂ© Voltaire, Turku’s French CafĂ©. An oasis of peace and calm.

Café Voltaire ( is one of the quietest most relaxing places in Turku. It is run by Jean -Pierre Frigo, a French journalist and commentator who has elected Finland as his home. The café radiates peace and calm. You can read there, browse the bookshelves, enjoy the excellent café and croissants. In the backroom there is a long wooden table where groups of people can sit and talk. Jean-Pierre organises themed discussion evenings which are well frequented.

You can also buy French goodies there like terrines and soups and wines to take away.

Krys and I always visit when we are in town. Jean-Pierre’s view of Finland is clear, unbiased. And his welcome open-armed.