Je m'appelle France. Et toi?

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Renee Erickson at Bateau.jpg

The French, for all their vaunted intelligence and savoir-faire, are sometimes downright cretinous. (No disrespect.)

Their international tourism agency is called Atout France, even though anglophones are their biggest markets and, in English, a tout is someone who gives you bad advice,

Their website over here is, Got that? If you want to visit, you could try But if you try, you;re screwed. Or used to be. That site belonged to a dude named Jean-Noël Frydman, a French expat who now lives in Miami and who registered the name in 1994.

Yes, that was before Google, before Amazon, before Facebook or Twitter. Yes, published the French national newspaper, Le Monde, online before anyone else. Yes, published an online travel guide and created an online hotel booking engine.

But then, the Frenchies woke up. Their first reaction was to (believe it or not) buy ads on Frydman's website. Along the way, there was a tacit agreement that France itself doesn't even own the word "France." Then someone at the highest levels of government in Paris must have looked at this and wondered WTF.

So they pounced. Not in some arcane international court, but where it hurts most: VeriSign. It moved against the domain registrar and seized last month.

If you enter today, the address resolves to, not dot-com but dot-fr. In their pride and arrogance, it's still "fr." And in case you're trying to get some advice from your track-side bookie, Atout France, the trick is to remember the hyphen. And don't even think about trying any of those 'Murican dot-com addresses. Pfui!

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