Procrastination: Ce n’existe pas

As any American knows, procrastination is a way of life. For example, I’m nearing the end of a big project, yet am having a hard time bucking down to finish it. I even got so desperate in my procrastination that I pulled out my oven and cleaned all behind it, the sides, and scrubbed off the baked-on sugar around the knobs. I’m looking for other projects to tackle next. I am a procrastinateur, if such a word exists. (And I’m not above making up words around here.)

When I was taking French classes shortly after I arrived a few years back, my teacher who was insane, (which is another story, including how he just freaked and starting punching-out the blackboard, but at least it wasn’t me…although I’m sure he was thinking it was) but spoke, like, nineteen languages. With complete fluency. I hate those people. But he had never heard of the world ‘procrastination’. So I pulled out the immense French dictionary at the school and sure enough, there it was, in French and English, spelled the same way.

But if you mention the word ‘procrastination’ to any French person, most likely they’ve never heard it before. I don’t know why. A friend here offered, “It’s because French people don’t procrastinate.” When I looked the word up today in my Robert Collins French Dictionnaire which sports 120,000 traductions, the word ‘procrastination’ only appears in the English-to-French translation, not in the Français-to-English translation.

Coincidence…or conspiracy?


So here I am procrastinating.
Speaking of things that are Too Good To Use, in France, you can get the most superb sunblock in the world. I was told about it by a friend who told me about this non-gloppy formula that she liked. So I went and bought some.

Then the plot thickened.
I was telling another friend about it, and she said,“Oh! That’s the stuff all my society friends from New York come over and hoard.”

Hmmm. Really? So I did some searching on the internet and found out that yes, Anthelios XL, or any suncress with Mexoryl® isn’t available in America, even though it’s considered the best, most effective sunscreen on the world. They refuse to give a reason, but FDA has banned the sale of it in the US.*

Paris has been hotter than heck lately. One blogger who shall remain nameless, Susan, pointed out that little weather icon I’ve added to the site said it wasn’t as hot as I was leading on.
So while she sits in her glamorous pool down on her farm, I offer indisputable proof…


So now I have a sneaking suspicion that the weather icon I added is part of a large, right-wing conspiracy to make us believe that global warming isn’t happening and that yes, George W. Bush was a far better choice for president than Al Gore.

And never mind my photo of my chocolate thermometer.

Anyhow…I need to get back to work.
But I did try the sunscreen and it’s truly amazing. It’s thin, light, and didn’t leave my face feeling like a pruneaux after a day of walking around Paris during the heatwave. Since it’s not available in America (another right-wing conspiracy so all the sun-worshiping leftists get face cancer and can’t vote?), if you come to France, you can stock up (although check the legality with the authorities to make sure it’s okay) on La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Fluide Extreme for the visage, the face.

Don’t procrastinate.

La Roche-Posay products are available in many Pharmacies and Parapharmacies in Paris.

*Update: La Roche-Posay sunscreen is now available in the United States legally.

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  • Ash
    July 5, 2006 10:06am

    I have temperamental skin that decided to whoopsie completely when I turned thirty. In the pharmacy (called an apotheek here), I was wandering the aisles looking for something to put on my very ‘pruneaux’ looking face, when the saleslady came over the samples of La Roche Posay.

    Since then, I use their Toleraine range for upset skin and of course, Anthelios for protection from the sunshine, of which there is pitifully little in Amsterdam, current heatwave notwithstanding.

    I recommend their spray bottles of mineral water too, they feel wonderful on one’s face when its this warm!

  • July 5, 2006 10:32am

    Wow, and I was wondering why I could not find L’Oréal’s sunscreen at Wal-Mart the other day… That’s because it’s forbidden. Oh well. That molecule is amazing and you can find it in most of L’Oréal sunblocks, including Vichy’s. If you want to spend less money, though, you can head to the Auchan in La Défense and just get some regular L’Oréal sunblock, it should work just as well!

    My mom has also been complaining about the weather in France, so I feel really bad for you, especially since I doubt you have A/C in Paris.

    I had not heard of the word “procrastination” until I came to the US. In France I would just say “ne remet pas à demain ce que tu peux faire le jour même”. French people seem to like long phrases in general (the translation of “shallow” is “peu profond” in French). Good luck with your project!

  • Mark
    July 5, 2006 11:35am

    Anthelios XL…Sold in the US on Amazon

  • July 5, 2006 11:39am

    That’s a word I had never heard of before, neither in France nor in the UK, must be one of your american “idiômes”. It is cute though, the word I mean (and thank you Estelle for the translastion).
    Anthelios, I loooooove it, good pick!

  • July 5, 2006 12:58pm

    Estelle: I got mine at the Parashop which was having a promotion for Buy 1, Get 40% off the second. I may live in France, but I still can hunt bargains like an American (Thanks for the tip on L’Oréal sunblock, will check it out, Auchan is great fun!)

    Ash: At first, the idea of paying so much for a spray bottle of water seemed absurd to me. But when the temperature is so high, after a few squirts, it all seems suddenly worth it.

    Mark: Not so fast! Click again, it says, “This item is currently not available.”

    Marie: The word does exist in France, just perhaps not the concept?

  • Nancy
    July 5, 2006 1:12pm

    I brought back the L’Oreal brand with Mexoryl last March ( you remember, when I was hiding behind the brownies at Borough Market!). In fact, other than food items, it was the only thing I brought back, except for vaseline in a tin. A friend says the US is going to allow Mexoryl in products soon, but until then we must travel for our skin!

  • July 5, 2006 1:16pm

    David, your sunscreen recommendation is reminding me to thank you for your microplane foot grater recommendation. I immediately put in on my Amazon wish list as a reminder- some friends went on it to buy me a birthday gift and picked it. The file got a lot of raised eyebrows and chuckles- but my feet are smooth! Stay cool and I wish you sustained focus for finishing the project.

  • July 5, 2006 1:36pm

    Now you know what online Canadian pharmacies are for! So David what do you recommend for keeping one’s hair shiny and healthy? I dare not go to the drugstore without your recoommendations…

  • July 5, 2006 1:43pm

    The concept does exist in France, come on!! However, the French being one of the most productive people in the World, they do not need to :-) That was an example of “mauvaise foi”, a phrase that has no translation in English. Or maybe the concept does not exist in Anglo-Saxon countries? I will let you think about it…

  • July 5, 2006 2:03pm

    Estelle: Hey, I wasn’t the one who said, “French people don’t procrastinate.” Having a blog means pawning all that stuff off on others, as I mentioned…to the actual person who said it! I swear it was from someone else.

    If you want my personal opinion if French people procrastinate, I’d better not say since I get enough anti-American messages (which run about even with the anti-French messages!) I can only speak for myself. And yes, I do procrastinate, beaucoup!

    Amy: Since my hair is about 1/2 cm long, I don’t think you’d be wise be taking hair advice from me. If you did, you’d be sorry.

  • July 5, 2006 2:31pm

    Don’t we all, David, don’t we all??


  • July 5, 2006 4:46pm

    That’s my favorite sunblock! I bought some in Italy 2 weeks ago and idiotically forgot it there.

  • Mel
    July 5, 2006 10:58pm

    Hmmm, I need to get me some of that sunblock. (I wonder if it smells better than my Hawaiian Tropic 70spf?)

  • July 5, 2006 11:21pm

    LOLOLOLOL (yet again)!

    Your cute little weather icon is obviously in the plot against you. I mean, right now it is reading a lovely 63F and ‘fair.’ If I put it on my blog will my weather reflect what it says?

    Ha ha, it’s nice to know that you respect a farmgirl’s privacy by keeping her nameless, but I have just one question: when did I start a blog called Secrets Of Paris? : )

    P.S. I STILL haven’t filled the pool yet. (And if you’re calling it glamorous after how I described it, I DO believe that you’re suffering from heatstroke.) Aha! I know what it is that has kept the pool empty! Procrastination!

    P.P.S. Best sunblock for the face? Wear a wide brimmed hat!

  • July 6, 2006 4:37am

    In the States, I’ve found La Roche Posay’s Anthelios sunscreens at Omni Chemists in Las Vegas (in the Fashion Show Mall) and Zitomer Pharmacy in Manhattan. Both had a 400% markup.

    The Canadian La Roche Posay suncreens are not exactly the same as their French counterparts – they’re made specifically for the Canadian market. The packaging is slightly different, the product name is different (XL vs. L) and I noticed that it was scented (the French ones are unscented). Other than that, I don’t know what the difference is. I found the Canadian version at Wishbone Apothecary in Berkeley. Big markup there as well.

    I have a bit of OCD over sunscreen.

  • July 6, 2006 5:46am

    Oh, you had an interesting French teacher indeed! What energy indeed to punch the tableau! And I confirm, I learned about procrastination in the USA. As a matter of fact, I always say it wrong! ;-) Ben nous les français, on accomplit “toujours” ce qu’on prévoit de faire!

    Look at our soccer team! On a gagné! On va gagner!

  • AmyS
    July 6, 2006 11:02am

    Dear David,

    I discovered your blog a while back through and really enjoy it. Paris is one of my
    favorite cities, and chocolate is my favorite food.

    Your entry of July 5 mentioned that Anthelios XL sunscreen is unavailable in the U.S., which isn’t quite true. Several pharmacies in New York City carry it, as I’m sure others in larger cities do. In case you get queries, here’s a link for
    mail order:

    It can also be bought through Canadian pharmacies (Google them).
    I’ve never had any trouble buying it.

    Looking forward to more entries!

  • July 6, 2006 1:27pm

    Here is where I get my La Roche Posay (they also have L’Oreal with Mexoryl):

  • NewYorkDely
    July 7, 2006 5:45am

    David, I’m backing you up – it IS that hot.

  • July 11, 2006 12:16pm

    By our terms, the French may procratinate, just as by our terms, folks here in Latin America procrastinate. But, to them, it just ain’t so, it’s just mañana… Procrastination is a guilty interpretation of deciding not to do something now that can be put off until later that you think you “should” do now. It’s a very puritanical concept that attaches immense value to getting something done right away.

  • e
    July 27, 2006 1:50am

    I got this email from yesterday:

    We are pleased to announce this exciting product approval. While it is not available to sell yet, we will take names to announce when it will be ready.

    “Anthelios SX is a sunscreen product that contains a combination of three active ingredients. One of the ingredients is a new molecular entity (NME), ecamsule. Ecamsule has not been marketed in the United States, but has been marketed in Europe and Canada as Mexoryl SX since 1993. The other two active ingredients, avobenzone and octocrylene, are generally recognized as safe and effective under the current OTC monograph for sunscreens.

  • July 27, 2006 11:27am

    Thanks for the tip!

    It’s nice to know the folks at the FDA are reading my blog…

  • e
    July 30, 2006 3:16am

    You’re welcome! I love the blog. I’m furiously writing down recipes. I’ll be in Paris for a few days in mid-Oct and must visit some of the chocolate shops you’ve mentioned. I have a huge weakness for caramel, as well. I’m from SF so if there’s anything from here you’d like, drop me an email.