Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Crottes de chiens

After more than six months of informal research, conducted in French towns such as Lyon, Dijon, Toulouse, and Paris, I can safely say that Saint Étienne is literally the shittiest town in France, if not all of Europe.

A sanitary bag dispenser in Toulouse. Note that it is empty and unreplenished.

It's a well known fact that neglect to pick up after one's canine is a French national trait. And I get it. Dog shit is gross, but cleaning it up is part of the social contract one enters when one becomes a dog owner.

According to Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow, authors of Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong:

In all, 200,0000 Parisian canines leave ten tons of excrement behind them every day. . . . The city of Paris . . . spends seventy million francs (five million pounds) per year on a brigade of seventy motocrottes (motorcycles that streak through the streets sucking up dog droppings with vacuum cleaners). But the efforts to rid the streets of excrement is futile, thanks to Parisian dog owners' enduring lack of civility (143).

Disconcertingly, however, when I was in Paris, I hardly even noticed les crottes de chiens. SaintÉ, however, is full of these canine landmines which make being a pedestrian in this town hazardous.

As Nadeau and Barlow note, "In an average year, six-hundred people break a limb slipping on dog droppings or trying to remove the mess from the soles of their shoes" (143).

One last observation on the shittiness of this town: I've noticed that the size of dog I most often see (small ones) does not correspond to the size of the landmines I dodge. Does this mean big dog owners only walk their dogs between nightfall and dawn out of shame that their fellow citoyens would see their lack of civility?

crotte de chien (crot duh she(n)): politely put, dog poop


Anonymous said...

Haha! Love it.

I'm very glad that you researched this. Too bad you already wrote your disseration - surely you could have somehow used this information. Unanswered questions include: did Trudeau pick up after his dog? Does cleaning up after your dog correspond to Prime Minister capabilities? You could then calculate all the necessary stats to analyze the data, and to see whether the two variables are connected (ie. whether picking up after your dog has a significant relationship to capabilities of Prime Ministering).



ANKA said...

The one time - one time! - I stepped in the poo - I maintain that one time stepping in poo in a year spent in France is truly miraculous - I seriously did almost fall. That shit (ha, ha) is slippery!