Bernie Sanders, and college tuition fees in Canada and France

Throughout my life, I have lived, worked and paid taxes in three great countries: Canada, England and France. For that alone, I consider myself privileged. What these countries have in common is ‘socialized’ universal-coverage health care systems. In other words, it’s all I’ve ever known.

As for higher learning, universities in Canada are public and subsidized to the tune of 55%. Taxpayers contribute revenues that are used to support post-secondary education. Statistics Canada data show that nationwide tuition fees make up roughly 20 per cent of universities’ revenue, while federal and provincial transfers make up the rest.

Free tuition for low-income students once existed in the province of Ontario until Doug Ford – current provincial leader and brother of the notorious crack-smoking ex-Toronto mayor, Rob Ford – eliminated the program. He also initiated a 50% cut in funding for Ontario’s libraries. Funny how they call themselves Progressive Conservatives, there’s nothing progressive about this party. Is it any surprise that Doug Ford is a fan of Donald Trump? Funny how people like Trump and Ford consider important things like books and college as trivial and inconsequential. But don’t blame Trump and Ford … blame the people who voted them into office!

As for college-university tuition in France, the information below has been culled from a website called Study.EU and dated 2019 –

Can you study in France for free?

Yes – if you are a citizen or permanent resident of a country of the EEA (European Economic Area) or Switzerland. The EEA includes all countries of the EU (European Union) as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Although studying in France is then not entirely “free”, you will only be charged a very small amount when you study at a public university.

However, if you are not a citizen of an EEA country or Switzerland, or already a permanent resident, you will have to pay higher tuition fees in France.
You will also have to pay higher tuition fees at a private university.

Who has to pay tuition fees to study in France?

Students have to pay higher tuition fees if they are citizens of countries that are not part of the EEA, or Switzerland. The EEA includes all EU countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

All other international students will have to pay higher tuition fees. For instance, if you are from Africa or Asia, your tuition fees will be higher than for French students. Campus France, the official French government agency, offers additional details.

How much does it cost to study in France?

The tuition fees at public universities are set by the French government and are the same across the country.

If you are a citizen or already a permanent resident of a country within the EEA, not much has changed – you will still be charged very low amounts for your tuition:

  • 170 euros per year for Bachelor’s (Licence) programmes,
  • 243 euros per year for Master’s programmes,
  • 601 euros per year in Engineering courses in at certain institutions,
  • 380 euros per year for Doctorate (PhD) programmes.

However, all other international students will now be charged higher amounts for Bachelors and Masters degrees. The new tuition fees for international students, starting September 2019, are:

  • 2,770 euros per year for Bachelor’s (Licence) programmes,
  • 3,770 euros per year for Master’s programmes,
  • 380 euros per year for Doctorate (PhD) programmes – the same amount as for Europeans.

Note that the values above refer only to public universities; the cost of tuition at private universities can be higher. They generally range from 3,000 to 20,000 euros per year.

Are there scholarships for international students?

Yes, and the French government announced that they would increase the availability of scholarships alongside the new higher tuition fees.


I mention all of the above to point out that everything Bernie Sanders says neither surprises nor shocks non-Americans. In the USA, however, many people view him as an outlaw, a radical, a Communist.

Here he is here, 32 years ago, saying essentially the same things he is saying today.

Next President of the USA?


Ne me touche pas… the shift in sex and power sweeping France

The British newspaper, The Observer, sister publication to The Guardian, has printed a very long piece in today’s Sunday paper on the abuse of (sexual) power in this country. All I can say in response is, ‘It’s about time!’ (The article should be translated into French and printed in all of the French newspapers.) The shocking transgressions that I have not only witnessed, but been a casualty of myself, over the three decades that I’ve been living and working in this country are enough to make your hair curl.

In the past, I’ve written a few blog posts on this very topic. I stick to my opinions. The author of The Observer article, an English woman living in France, has the same points of view. For example, I wrote this in 2017:

The Harvey Weinstein debacle is sending wide and wonderful ripples across the ocean towards Europe and beyond. It’s two decades too late, of course, but better late than never. What can I possibly say that hasn’t already been written, tweeted and decried, other than when I came to France in the early 1990s, I was stunned and appalled by the blatant machismo and sexism that prevailed in this country. It needs to be said that France is not and never has been a trailblazer in the feminist department. (Do not confuse emancipation with equality or empowerment.)

Growing up in Canada, I took it for granted that Europe would be as enlightened as my home country in terms of gender equality. I was wrong. I found French women to be passive and compliant, and French men chauvinistic and entitled. The most glaring reality, though, was this: the complete and utter lack of solidarity between women. I didn’t understand – and still don’t – why this is so.

As I see it, this absence of sisterhood insidiously aids and abets the deeply entrenched sexism here. The consequence is that when you do speak out against harassment, you find yourself terribly alone. No-one supports you. (I speak from personal experience.) So it’s true: in order to combat this thing, this sickness, you need to be strong. Because you’re taking it on alone.

Way back in 2013, I wrote a post about the DSK scandal here in France, or rather in New York City. You remember: Dominique Strauss-Kahn – French politician and former managing director of the International Monetary Fund – slated to be the next president of France who ended up in Rikers Island prison for allegedly assaulting a hotel chambermaid. You couldn’t dream this stuff up. Here’s an excerpt:

Two events brusquely jolted the French out of their reverie vis-à-vis their archaic attitudes towards women: the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn in New York in May 2011 and the arrival onto French soil of the feminist Ukrainian group, FEMEN, at about the same time. On a Sunday morning, over croissants and steaming bowls of café au lait, the entire nation stared with collective incredulity at their TV screens. What were they looking at? Surreal images, played over and over for all the world to see, of their well-known countryman and respected economist – who was not only the head of the IMF in Washington but candidate to be the next president of France – handcuffed, unshaven and flanked on either side by burly New York policemen before being shoved into the back of a car and driven off to prison on charges of alleged criminal sexual assault. This was reality TV at its most horrific. It was, as the French press called it, an electroshock.  

There’s nothing like a pair of handcuffs and the clang of a Rikers Island prison gate to shrivel a sex offender’s dick.

And this, a few years ago:

According to a survey conducted by Cosmopolitan magazine, one in three American women attests to sexual harassment on the job, in all sectors. Harassment impacts women economically. Women who have been harassed are far more likely to change jobs than those who didn’t. These shifts can upset a career trajectory. Researchers found that, compared to men, women experience far more serious effects from interruptions to their work path.

Comment from Juliet in Paris – Harassment has impacted me economically (not to mention emotionally) and has interrupted my career trajectory. Because of harassers, I have endured multiple stretches of unemployment during my career here in France working as a bilingual secretary. Over a period of two decades, I have left five different companies due to harassment, bullying or “interference” from men. (One of my harassers, a senior Partner in a global law firm, was a woman.) Four of those companies were law firms, one was a renowned international news agency. In each case, I was either financially compensated (insufficiently) or tossed out into the street. My crime? I dared to stand up and talk back to my tormenter. And so I was the problem, not the abuser. I was called insubordinate. I looked the word up in the dictionary, just to double-check its meaning: defiant of authority; disobedient to orders. And I wondered, if I were a compliant or obedient person, how should I be expected to respond to my tormenter?

In each case, I found myself utterly alone. Not one single office colleague – who were themselves targets or witnesses of the harasser – nor the Human Resources departments who were 100% cognizant of the recurring problem – supported or defended me. They all turned their backs and closed their eyes. Enablers, all of them.

My friend Monique has been through exactly the same experiences. Today she happily runs her own B&B business; happy because she’s the boss and runs her own show.

Both of us (and millions of other women) have taken an economic hit and endured financial and emotional strain due to unemployment caused by harassers. Where are they today, the harassers who tormented me, Monique and hundreds of other women? Doing very well indeed. Still working, still raking in the big money. Utterly uncaring, unrepentant and unpunished for their actions.

Here’s the link below to the article in today’s The Observer. It makes reference to this clip in which the 12-year old Charlotte Gainsbourg (now a well-known French actress) sits with her pawing singer-songwriter father in the mid-1980s. The title of the song that Serge wrote for his daughter is LEMON INCEST. It was a big hit on French television (at least with men.) You won’t be able to watch it in its entirety, it’s too disgusting.

a medieval village in south-west France

Mézin is a village of 1,500 souls located in the heart of Gascony (the department of Lot-et-Garonne) in south-west France. I took the fast train to visit an English friend who lived there. Here are some photos:


Here’s the town hall (below). As you can see, things are rocking:


You can just imagine walking down this narrow street in the Middle Ages, dodging the contents of chamber pots flung out of upstairs windows.


Here’s the church of Saint John the Baptist that dominates the town square. It was built over an extended period of time, from the 11th to the 14th century:


Here’s my friend’s house. When she bought it, it was a wreck. She had it gutted and renovated:

DSCF1570DSCF1524DSCF1528DSCF1527The guest bedroom:DSCF1508

Those windows were flung wide open so I could sleep with the fresh, cold air pouring into the room. When outside of polluted Paris, I can’t get enough of country air. I’m on a constant quest for quietude and clean air.


The town square. To tell you the truth, I found the village to be kind of depressing (I didn’t say so to my friend, but I did wonder why she had chosen to live there.) I left after two days and two nights, and never went back.


Eating horsemeat in France

I think what shocks the French more than the actual ingesting of horse is the defrauding of consumers through false and inaccurate labeling on frozen food boxes. I mean, they eat snails, frogs’ legs, brains, blood pudding and pigs trotters. Why would eating horsemeat set them aquiver?

When I first came to France to study French at Paul Valery University in the sunwashed city of Montpellier, I ate horsemeat. Unwittingly, of course. It was served to me one night in the guise of a hamburger. At the end of the meal the hostess asked me how I liked the meat. I said that it was good, but it had an odd sweetish flavour. Everyone at the table laughed and I was told that I had just eaten horsemeat. I was not amused.

And that’s what this current food fraud scandal is all about: we’ve been unwittingly eating it, thinking it was certified beef. When you go to the supermarket to buy a box of frozen lasagna or spaghetti bolognese and it’s written clearly on the box “100% French beef“, that’s what you expect to be eating. You might imagine contented cattle loafing in a sun-dappled Limousin valley and grazing on grass. What a shock to discover that what you’re really eating is bits of carcass from a sorry old horse that was slaughtered in an abattoir in Romania!!

That’s it, I’m becoming a full-fledged vegetarian.

A survey was conducted to determine the five biggest horsemeat-consuming countries: they are China, Mexico, Russia, Italy, and Kazakhstan. Italy! I was in Bologna over Christmas a few years ago.  I wonder if those numerous plates of spaghetti Bolognese I scarfed down was full of horse? The British newspaper, The Daily Mail, reported that every year 100,000 live horses are transported into and around the European Union for human consumption, mainly to Italy but also to France and Belgium. From where do these live horses come?

And before my fellow Canadians get too smug in thinking that this happens in other countries, here’s a shocker: it appears that horse-eating countries of the world covet Canadian horseflesh. Oh, yes. One Canadian horse is worth $20,000. Every week approximately one hundred are loaded onto a plane at Calgary International Airport and flown to Japan to be slaughtered, sliced thin and served in Japanese restaurants. It’s a delicacy called basashi and it’s eaten raw.

In spite of the seriousness of the scandal that gripped France and Great Britain a few years ago, newspapers came up with some humourous headlines:

European horsemeat scandal gallops on. Horsemeat scandal set to spur tougher food tests. Restaurateurs respond to horsemeat neighsayers. Not sure I’d want to be saddled with horsemeat as a mane meal. Quit horsing around!

I just thought of this now: It behooves us to reflect on the matter.


Paris Secret Passages June 17, 2013 142

horsemeat butcher shop in Paris

blood orange syrup loaf cake

polenta cake

Oh my word! This cake is more delicious than it looks and sounds. And its super-easy to make.

It all started last weekend when, after making my Saturday morning nut milk (almonds and cashews soaked all night long on the Friday), I was wondering what to do with the leftover pulp once I had ground the nuts. It seemed a shame to throw it away. And then I stumbled across this recipe which calls for 250 grams of ground almonds. I had all the ingredients at hand, so I made it. It’s a winner!

I made the syrup, didn’t bother with the zest, and, as instructed, poured it over the cake. As I was eating it, one word came to mind: Cointreau. This cake is crying out for it. Cointreau is a French orange-flavored triple sec liqueur. I’m going to buy some this weekend and do this syrupy cake all over again.

Here’s the recipe below. Note: if you don’t have blood oranges, regular oranges will do. And yes, the Cointreau goes in the syrup!