About julesparis2013

Originally from Toronto, Canada, I moved to Paris about 20 years ago.

not much going on. and migrant crossings.

I don’t really have much to say, as I lead my humdrum life. But in these fraught days, humdrum is probably good. No drama is the best kind of life to live, is my opinion.

The Christmas lights went up on the Esplanade de la Défense a few days ago. I’ll take photos next week. Always uplifting as I walk home in the dark, or rather, to the metro station after work on cold winter nights. Our company Christmas party – cancelled last year due to Covid – is scheduled for December 9 (but could be cancelled yet again … due to Covid.)

I actually had a tiny drama when I went to my local hair salon and walked out with orange-colored hair. This is not the first time this has happened to me. I paid a lot of money, sat there from 2 pm to 5 pm, and walked out a very dissatisfied client. But what peeves me more than the hair is this: the French never apologize. They should learn to do so, it would make for improved customer relations. I wonder where this non-apologizing comes from … do they learn it in nursery school? As I sat in the chair with two hairstylists standing behind me – all of us looking at the horrific highlights one of them had done – and me wailing “But it’s fluorescent colored!”, the apology I was waiting for was unforthcoming.

All they said was – “Can you come in again tomorrow?” They’re going to try to fix it. As if I have nothing else to do with my weekends.

As much as I deeply dislike Boris (Bojo) Johnson, I have to agree with him concerning the migrant crisis. From the French shores, thousands of migrants – aided and exploited by smugglers – attempt to cross the English Channel in unsafe dinghies, small boats and rafts in order to reach Britain. Many of them die. What I don’t understand is – why are they so eager to go to Britain? (France is far more generous with social benefits.)

Anyway, Bojo sent a letter to President Macron saying it was France’s responsibility to monitor and detain migrants from crossing the Channel, and asked him to take back the migrants who have freshly-arrived in Britain. I agree. France’s reaction, or rather, non-reaction to migrants, especially in the winter months, is lamentable. They live in tents or encampments in the rough! The French government’s non-reaction is like the non-apology: aloof and circumspect. Non-committal.

Miffed because of the letter, French interior minister, Gerald Darmanin, told Priti Patel, the British Home Secretary, that she was no longer welcome at Sunday’s European meeting on migrant issues after 27 people died making the English Channel crossing on Wednesday. Completely counter-productive.

Here’s an article in The Guardian about the conditions migrants live in, where they’re from and what their hopes are –



Elton John and George Michael – Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me

Sometimes I’ll spend a Sunday afternoon sitting on my chaise longue with my laptop watching and listening to golden oldies (my fave songs from the past) on YouTube. Cold and drizzly and gray outside, today’s a perfect day to stay indoors. This coming week, cold weather with possible snow and “polar conditions” are forecast.

Here’s the video I was watching earlier. 123 million hits. I love the part when Elton comes out – the audience goes wild. I love Elton. His songs – Rocket Man, Daniel, Bennie and the Jets, etc – were an important part of my growing up years. (I love G.M. too. Another tragic premature death).



flag day, to honor the victims of the November 2015 terrorist attacks

To honor and pay tribute to the victims of the horrific November 2015 terrorist attacks that took place in several different locations around Paris, the good citizens of France were invited to hang flags from their windows and balconies. And if a flag wasn’t handy, well…use your imagination!

bras3 chairs3 towelsflag fourflag eightflag sevenflag oneflag sixflag and hands

Incidentally, President Macron recently changed the color of the French flag, but no one noticed. The blue is now a darker, navy blue.

Gudrun Sjödén

Cult Swedish designer, Gudrun Sjödén, opened her first store in Stockholm in 1976. Her eco-conscious, fanciful designs have been called Pippi Longstocking: comfortable, colorful clothes crafted from natural fabrics and with a Nordic design. Tunics, loose-fitting trousers, generous-sized tops with scarves, leggings and the layered look. When I popped over to London on the Eurostar, I’d make sure to visit her boutique near Covent Garden and buy an outfit or two. Gosh, I miss London. I haven’t been since August 2019 (mainly because of COVID.)

There’s also a Gudrun Sjödén boutique in Soho, NYC at 50 Greene Street. But not in Paris. Years ago, I bought a tunic top that I’ve worn and washed so often it now has a hole in it. Which is why I’m looking to order another one from their website. You can too!


lunch at the Bistro St. So in Lille

I’ve been taking the kids to the “parc rouge” (the red park) for thirteen years now, ever since the eldest son – now 20 – was seven years old. Now it’s his little brother, 9 years old, who I take to the park and then to lunch across the road.

It’s not really called the red park, we call it that because the metal gates surrounding it are painted red. Its official name is Le parc Jean-Baptiste Lebas. The weather was autumnal: crisp, cool and sunny, the lawns littered with fallen leaves.

Directly across the road is the Gare Saint Sauveur, a former goods station with some of the buildings converted into an exhibition area and a terrific bistro that I love. Great food, service and ambience at reasonable prices.

The evening before, I had taken my 9-year old companion to a DVD shop at around 7 pm. It’s a place that I frequent often (I have a huge DVD collection) because there must be over 100,000 DVDs on offer, all years, all genres, all nationalities. I could spend hours there. But after about 20 minutes my companion complained that his back hurt because he was standing for too long.

“What?” I exclaimed, flipping through a row of DVDs. “You’re 9 years old and you’re complaining of back pain?” I suffer from lumbago. I’ll tell you about back pain, my little friend. (He confessed later that his back didn’t hurt, he was just bored and wanted to leave.)

So I quickly bought two DVDs: Bunny Lake is Missing (a 1965 British psychological drama film directed by Otto Preminger) and The Grifters (a 1990 American neo-noir crime thriller film directed by Stephen Frears) and out we went into the night in central Lille. We ended up in a pocket-sized sushi restaurant. We both agreed that it wasn’t as good as the sushi we had in Paris in August.

The Bistro de St So is a super casual, welcoming place filled with young parents and their kids who are encouraged to run around in a safe place while the parents catch up with their friends. Incidentally, the good people from Lille are twenty times friendlier and more relaxed than Parisians.

I chose the roast chicken with stuffing, mushrooms and roasted squash because it looked autumnal. My companion had the children’s menu of fish and chips.

I couldn’t resist the dessert which was a sort of butternut tart with a citrusy cream and chantilly (whipped cream). Eating it was a beautiful experience.

Back to Paris on the Sunday afternoon train.

off to Lille with homemade cinnamon raisin bread

One of my favorite activities is to stand in my small kitchen space, listen to the radio or a good podcast (or an author interview on BBC Radio 4), and make or bake something. I find it relaxing and de-stressing. The reward at the end is something delicious that you made yourself.

In view of my trip to Lille tomorrow morning (a city in the north of France, not far from the Belgian border), I decided to make two cinnamon raisin loaves, one for my friend and his kids, the other for another friend who Photoshopped something for me. I wish I knew how to use Photoshop, Inkscape and all the other graphic design software. If I had my career to do over again, maybe I’d be a graphic designer, I don’t know. It’s true that you can teach yourself, but what with my full-time job and my book-writing on the weekend, who has time?? I barely have time to read a book and am actually looking forward to the train trip tomorrow (it’s only an hour) to crack open a new novel I recently bought: Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers.

There are many excellent recipes on the internet for this bread. I prefer whole-grain flour rather than white, as used in The Smitten Kitchen’s recipe (link below).

whole-grain cinnamon swirl bread

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 –