Practical questions

Your practical questions answered by Oliver Rowland

31 August 2012

How can I find work as an extra in films?
I AM in my late 60s and my husband in his 80s. We have lots of free time and are interested in film extra work. We are willing to travel and want new adventures and to earn some extra money. V.W.

Being a film extra is called la figuration and people of all looks and ages are sought to be figurants. If you are willing to travel you should find it easy to find work. The best place to look for jobs is the Pôle Emploi (job centre site), which has a section for the performing arts: www.poleemploi.fr/informations/-@/spectacle/ Search by kind of work - arts dramatique - and region, then choose figurant.

There is also a job called silhouette which is an extra who also has a line or two to say.

Pay is around €90 gross per day (€65 net), but usually goes up if you are required to wear a costume.

You will need to supply photos of yourselves and CVs showing any experience (personal information, hobbies etc, can also help to give a picture of yourself).

You may be invited to a casting session at which the casting director will choose the extras best-suited to their needs. An actual audition is not usually required (though it is for silhouettes).

Other reputable sites to look for this kind of work include www.annoncescomediens.fr/ and www.01casting.com

Can I drive with bare feet?
I HAVE heard the law bans you from driving with bare feet in France - is that true? G.J.

The Association Régionale de Sécurité Routière, a body working in partnership with the state in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais to promote road safety, states that the law as regards driving barefoot is vague. It is not explicitly banned by the Code de la Route, however in practice some gendarmes will fine people for doing so, based on their interpretation of article R412-6: “Each driver must keep themselves constantly in a state and position to be able to carry out comfortably and without delay all the manoeuvres that he or she has to perform.”

“Generally-speaking you are
supposed to drive in normal
clothes - you may not be able to brake as easily in bare feet, for example,” an employee of the association said.

Offences under the relevant article are punishable with a fine (€22 if paid promptly, otherwise €35 if paid later).

How do I ask for a ‘medium’ baguette?
IN boulangeries people will ask for une baguette pas trop cuite (not baked too much), or alternatively, bien cuite (well-baked) - but what if i want one that is just right, neither too crunchy nor too soft? H.L.

Baguette connoisseurs tend to claim that a well-baked loaf with a dark, crunchy crust is essential to experience the full texture and aromas and they flinch at the frequently-heard requests for a baguette pas trop cuite - or even “bien blanche” (“nice and white”). There is no one official term for a “mediumbaked” baguette, but you could try dorée (golden), cuite à point (baked to a turn) or if asked: “Bien cuite ou pas trop cuite?" say: “entre les deux” or “juste comme il faut”.

What can I do with my old change?
I HAVE a bag of old small change at home that I did not get around to spending - what is the best thing to do with the coins? Will banks take them? K.S.

Yes, banks will take your loose change. Ask your bank for plastic bags that you can put the coins in. There is no need to have separate bags for different coin types - you will be asked to put them all together and note on the bag how many there is of each kind (one centime, two centimes, five centimes, ten centimes etc).

Some banks have machines where you can deposit these bags, whereas in others you have to hand them to a person. They will be sent away for checking, and if you have not counted correctly the difference will be made up on your account.

How can I text between countries?
IT IS always expensive when I send text messages between countries, whereas they are included in my subscription when I am in France. Is there any way to avoid this? E.D.

If you have a smartphone there are several ways to avoid paying surcharges for texting someone abroad (eg. in the UK) or texting back to France when you are abroad.

If you have an iPhone and the person you are calling also has one (and the iOS 5 operating system), the simplest method is to use its built-in instant messenger, iMessage. You can tell you are using this not normal texting if the messages appear in a blue instead of a green box (and the “send” button is blue). Go into Settings -

Messages - iMessage: select “on”. If you are in France, select also “Send as SMS if iMessage is unavailable”, but turn this off if you are abroad and do not want a charge. Messaging applications also exist for Android (eg. Windows Live Messenger) and BlackBerry (BlackBerry Messenger) phones.

To use instant messaging free abroad you need to connect to a wifi network (eg. at someone’s home or at a venue which offers it, such as a McDonald’s).

Always turn off your 3G network when you are abroad if you want to avoid clocking up fees.

Other smartphone options possible with wifi include using Skype, or installing the applications Viber (for free calls and texts between mobiles) or WhatsApp (free texts). The other person must also have them installed.

What are SP95 and SP98 vehicle fuels?
WHAT is the difference between SP95 and SP98 petrols - the latter is always more expensive. G.J.

These are both kinds of unleaded petrol (sans plomb) - the difference being in the content of octane (one of the components of petrol).

A high-octane petrol burns more efficiently and is able to resist higher pressures before causing engine knock (a knocking sound caused by fuel detonating).

It is especially recommended for certain high-performance cars, eg. sports cars (the manual will say if this is the case), and generally may give slightly better fuel consumption (usually not enough to offset the extra cost).

Sometimes SP95 is also labelled E10. This refers to a fuel containing 10% ethanol (alcohol distilled from sugar beet or wheat), which has been authorised for use in France since 2009, as opposed to ordinary SP95 which, in France, is mixed with 5% ethanol.

Most petrol cars made since 2000 are compatible with it.

Other fuels you may see include liquified petroleum gas - GPL in French - which is a mixture of butane and propane derived from oil and natural gas, and ethanol fuel - bioéthanol (only to be used by cars designed for them).

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