Chapon chocolate

Sunday Paris Oct 13th - 6th arr 083

The good news is that Chapon Chocolatier is located far from my apartment. Far away on the other side of town, across the river on the Left Bank. (I live on the Right Bank.)

The bad news is … well, there is no bad news, other than the fact that Chapon Chocolatier is closed on Monday mornings.

Patrice Chapon has won numerous awards for his chocolate concoctions. But the biggest prize should go to the four bowls of rich, silky mousse in the shop window. As I stood in the hankie-sized shop, at least eight people pressed their faces to the window to gaze in at them. Each mousse is made from the cocoa beans of a different region: Madagascar, Venezuela, Ecuador. Each mousse has varying degrees of sweetness and intensity. In the cold weather, thick take-out hot chocolate is on offer.

Sunday Paris Oct 13th - 6th arr 085Sunday Paris Oct 13th - 6th arr 088

Does chocolate make you happy?

Sunday Paris Oct 13th - 6th arr 090

Studies show that eating chocolate affects the levels of endorphins in the brain, thus causing feelings of euphoria.

Sunday Paris Oct 13th - 6th arr 089Paris street April 2013 007

Here’s my euphoria: buying some Chapon chocolate then heading to the café directly across the street to stand up at the counter, order a double espresso and slowly savour the coffee and chocolate together.

Cocoa and coffee bean heaven. Amen.

69 rue du Bac
Paris 75007 (7th arrondissement)
Metro: Rue du Bac

Amal reaches London

As we follow Little Amal’s remarkable journey from the Turkey-Syria border to Manchester in the UK, she will shine an urgent light on the stories of the millions of young refugees who are displaced – and the many who are forced to risk arduous journeys for the chance at a better life.

Little Amal is the giant puppet at the heart of The Walk, travelling 8,000 km in support of refugees.

Three things strike me:

  1. We forget there’s a human being inside the body of Amal – a puppeteer – who is walking on stilts and viewing everything through her cane torso; what a life-changing experience that must be for those wonderful men and women (they work in shifts);
  2. The mobs of well-wishers and spectators are a hundred times more elated at greeting the doll-puppet than they are at greeting real life migrants and refugees, which is the poignant message that Amal delivers;
  3. Amal looks old for a nine-year-old which is no surprise given the anguish, fatigue, abuse and overall trauma that all refugees encounter as they flee war, famine, persecution, the Taliban, and all forms of violence.

Here’s a fresh batch of magnificent photographs of Amal in London, all taken by David Levene for The Guardian:

the astonishing odyssey of giant puppet Amal

Meet Little Amal – the not-so-little puppet of a 9-year-old Syrian girl who is walking 5,000 miles from Turkey to the UK.

The journey represents the stories of the millions of young refugees who are forced to leave their homes and often travel alone without their parents.

Designed as part of a project aimed at raising awareness of the difficulties faced by child refugees, the nearly 12-foot-tall puppet will cross the border of eight countries.

Amal means “hope” in Arabic.

She’ll be moving from Turkey to Greece, then Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and finally the UK where Little Amal’s journey will end in Manchester on 3 November.

Look, here she is in my most favorite spot in Paris: the gardens of the Palais-Royal. Had I known she’d be there, I would have gone to see her and take photos.

The giant puppet was made by the same people who worked on the horse puppet for the theatre production of War Horse.

Called The Handspring Puppet Company, it takes a total of four puppeteers to animate Little Amal: one for each arm, one for her back, and one actor inside her body, walking on stilts and also operating a contraption called “the harp,” a complex system of strings that control the puppet’s facial expressions.

The Handspring Puppet Company’s founders, Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler even came out of retirement to create it.

“The refugee story is the big issue of our time,” said Kohler.

(text taken from the BBC website)

The Guardian has beautifully documented (with photos) the overland voyage of Amal from her starting point in Turkey to …. well, I’m not quite sure where she is right now, somewhere in England heading north up to Manchester. Here’s the link here. Take a look –

proud to be French, proud to be European

I was invited to a reception given in honor of those who obtained French nationality in 2020 and 2021. I was honored to be there.

The Prez didn’t show up, but he was there in spirit.

For those new to this blog, there’s a backstory to this tale (there always is with stories concerning citizenship.)

Here’s the link below which explains why today I’m the holder of three passports. A friend recently said to me – “Are you sure you’re not a secret agent? Don’t you sometimes get your nationalities and passports mixed up?” I wrote this post in January 2021, it’s titled “I’m French!”

I’m French!

a fabulous new French perfume

I was in a cosmetic store the other day and after paying for my purchases the saleswoman asked if she could perfume me. This is a delightful French custom. 

Puis-je vous parfumer?” they say just as you’re about to leave. (May I perfume you?)

Avec plaisir.” I replied. You open your coat and they literally spray you from your neck down to your waist.

“Any particular scent, or would you like to try something new?”

I opted for something new, and I’m glad I did because I’ve now discovered a brand new scent that I love. And guess what? It’s vegan!


Discover the new Chloé Eau de Parfum Naturelle: a 100% natural origin fragrance with a fresh floral and woody signature that expresses the strength of the Chloé woman.

I recommend this, it’s totally original. People at work have been commenting on it, asking what that interesting fragrance is as I walk by. Here’s the video in black and white.

I am Chloé. Je suis Chloé.

it was the victim’s fault

It was the victim’s fault because she should never have “submitted” to arrest, and because she didn’t know about the legalities of arrest.

“Perhaps women need to consider in terms of the legal process, to just learn a bit about that legal process.”

Philip Allott, who oversees the North Yorkshire police, was accused of victim-blaming after saying women should “just learn a bit about that legal process” in case they are falsely arrested. He retracted his comments amid indignant calls for his resignation. Meanwhile, Scotland Yard suggested that a woman could try “waving down a bus” to escape a person they believe is pretending to be police. Waving down a bus? Pretending to be police? If I understood correctly, the man who murdered Sarah Everard was the police.

“If a person still does not feel safe, they should consider “shouting out to a passerby, running into a house, knocking on a door, waving a bus down or, if you are in the position to do so, calling 999.” 

If this is the best response the Metropolitan police in England can come up with in the wake of this appalling tragedy, then GHUA (God Help Us All) – and I don’t even live there. It’s clear as glass: we’re not in this together, we’re in it alone. It’s every woman for herself.

Another thing is clear: they’re not taking male violence against women seriously. Not like Spain, for example, a traditionally macho culture that did a complete turnaround recently and now recognizes male violence against women not only as an urgent public health priority, but a human rights violation. In contrast, what does the highest policing authority in England advise? Flag down a bus.

Why is the onus always on women to stay safe?

Society regularly reinforces the message that it is women’s responsibility to keep themselves safe, not men’s responsibility not to harass or assault them. 

“Violence against women—it’s a men’s issue.” Jackson Katz 

“Men have essentially been erased from so much of the conversation in a subject that is centrally about men.” Jackson Katz in his excellent TED Talk.

A Twitter user said – “Women are set up to be victim-blamed along the lines of “Why was she out so late?” Why don’t you focus on the need to vet police candidates better, weed out the bad ones and the ones who turn a blind eye, change the culture within the force?”

Not a single word or admission of culpability in the vetting of Wayne Couzens and missing (or choosing to ignore) warning signs that could have stopped him from killing. No, blame Sarah Everard, it was all her fault. Moreover, she’s dead, so she can’t speak for herself. My heart bleeds for her parents and sister.

At least three accusations of indecent exposure had been made against Couzens. It was also known amongst “the lads” (his fellow male colleagues) that he enjoyed watching violent porn. Urgent answers are required as to how he was allowed to remain in service.

The commissioner of the Metropolitan police, Cressida Dick (what? she hasn’t had the decency to resign?), actually said this when referring to the killer – “Sadly, some of them were abused at home, for example, and sadly on occasion, I have a bad ’un.”

A bad ’un? Is that some regional vernacular or is she being flippant? And what’s the relevance of mentioning that Wayne Couzens was abused at home? What’s your point, Ms. Dick? Or rather, Dame Dick.

In September 2019, she was promoted Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in Theresa May’s resignation honours. In 2013, she was named one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio.

Surely a Commander of the British Empire has some pull. Use that power, Dame Dick, and that astronomically high salary of yours to implement radical change and reform within your police force.