About julesparis2013

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

Femicide, a culture of domestic violence in France

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Last night I stayed up till midnight preparing this blog post and doing research on the 105th case of femicide this year in France. Today at lunch I learned that in the space of twelve hours that number had jumped to 107.

Her name was Audrey, she was 27 years old, and she’s the 107th victim of femicide since the beginning of this year in France. She was an intern in pediatrics, she wanted to become a generalist, but her ambition (and her life) was snuffed out when her ex inflicted 14 stab wounds to her chest and abdomen.

The 106th femicide victim was a 53 year old woman who lived in Eastern France. Her name has been withheld.

Two days ago, on Monday September 16, 2019 in the city of Le Havre, a 27-year old woman was stabbed to death by her husband – in front of their three children aged 2, 4 and 6, in the middle of a street at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. Her name was Johanna. He was of Malian descent. What will become of those children? They’ll be traumatized for life.

In August, Johanna had filed a complaint against her husband. A few months earlier she had tried to escape him by jumping through the window of his first-floor apartment. He was taken into custody and then released, without being convicted. The couple had been separated since July. Johanna lived in a shelter for battered women (I’m assuming with the three kids). He kept coming round to the shelter and to the children’s school, threatening them.

“Why didn’t anyone do anything?” the citizens of Le Havre are asking. Neither the police nor the judicial system reacted. Johanna had undertaken all the steps to get away from this violent man.

In 2018, the Ministry of the Interior identified 121 femicides in France.

Femicide: the act of killing a woman, as by a domestic partner or a member of a criminal enterprise.

Femicide: a gender-based hate crime, broadly defined as “the intentional killing of females because they are females.”

Céline, Sarah, Clothilde, Eliane, Hélène, Denise, Ophélie, Martine are the names of some of the other women murdered by their current or former partners this year. There’s no law condemning femicide in France.

Femen group protesting in Paris. Is anyone listening?

Here’s a detail that really bugs me: in France they refer to murders, rapes and femicides as “Faits Divers” which translated into English is “Miscellaneous Facts.” I wish they’d change that. In fact, I wish they’d change a lot of things here. Not that it’s any better in other First World countries: a recent report by the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability revealed that there were 106 victims of femicide in 2018 in Canada.

Contrary to women in America who are killed with a gun, the victims in France are generally knifed, strangled, run over with a car, smothered, beaten to death or burned.

Without a doubt, there’s a big problem with the French Police. They refuse to listen to victims when they come forward. Or worse, they make inappropriate remarks, or blame the victim for what happened. “We need to systematically educate police on how to respond to domestic violence,” an activist said.

At a rally last month, actress Muriel Robin said “These women were not sufficiently protected,” and she questioned President Emmanuel Macron“You spoke of a national cause. What are you waiting for? What is a woman’s life worth to you? We’re waiting for an answer.”

Read the article below recounting how President Emmanuel Macron visited a hotline center in Paris exactly two weeks ago. He sat with a trained operator and listened in on a particularly disturbing telephone conversation, witnessing first-hand the problem with the French Police. Honestly? Had it been me, or rather, had I been him, I would’ve grabbed the phone out of the operator’s hand and shouted into it: This is the President of France! I command you to bouge ton cul and accompany this woman to her home!

But he said and did nothing. Combatting femicide is not a priority in France, or anywhere else.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/sep/04/macron-hears-police-officer-refuse-to-help-woman-in-danger

dog-friendly pubs, vineyards and wine-tasting, romantic getaways, solo holidays and much more!

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Sawday’s is my number one favorite website and travel company. Looking for something special and out-of-the-ordinary? France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Great Britain: for people who love special.

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Here’s their website:

https://www.sawdays.co.uk/

And here’s what I received in my InBox today:

This month’s Wanderlist is best enjoyed with a glass of something chilled, as we bring you 30 places where you can enjoy wonderful wine experiences. From fully immersing yourself by staying on a vineyard to simply setting up camp in wine country, these places will make sure your glass is more than half full.

Sample homemade wines in an elegant château by the Cher, unwind in a wine-themed stylish suite in Spain’s La Rioja or visit the South Downs from a B&B in a lush Sussex vineyard with views of the sea.

See you out there!

The Sawday's Team

 

go directly to jail! sentenced to prison for tax fraud

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As I made coffee and listened to the radio on this warm and sunny Saturday morning, I heard the news and emitted a grunt of satisfaction. Finally! This sentence has been a long time coming.

Patrick Balkany: the highly-liked, affable, flamboyant and corrupt mayor of Levallois-Perret, an upmarket Parisian suburb, spent his first night in the notorious Prison de la Santé last night. Mayor of Levallois-Perret for more than eighteen years, he is 71 years old. His wife, Isabelle, Deputy Mayor, was given a 4-year suspended sentence and a 500,000 Euros fine.

A Caribbean villa named Pamplemousse on the isle of Saint-Martin, a sumptuous riad in Morocco, a property with an old mill in Giverny, Mr. and Mrs. Balkany were tried by the Paris Criminal Court for having concealed at least 13 million Euros in tax assets between 2007 and 2014.

Best friends with former French prez, Nicolas Sarkozy – once mayor of the even more upmarket Parisian suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine that borders Levallois-Perret, and himself questioned in policy custody over claims that his 2007 election victory was funded with millions from then Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi – Balkany’s trial is two-fold: tax fraud and money laundering. All of Paris is abuzz this morning with chatter about Balkany’s impending fate. The Balkanys were known for paying for everything in cash, notably with 500 Euro bills.

Closed in July 2014 for massive renovation and modernization, the Prison de la Santé, located in Paris’s 14th arrondissement and constructed in 1867, has housed “celebrity” inmates such as Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, son of the former French president and advisor to his father on African affairs. In Africa, he earned the nickname, Papamadit, which translates into “Papa-told-me”.

Other famous inmates were the former President of Algeria, Mohamed Boudiaf, and one of the nine leaders of the FNL, an Algerian nationalist political party; Maurice Papon, French civil servant responsible for the deportation of 1,690 Bordeaux Jews to Drancy internment camp from 1942–44. In 1998, Papon was convicted of crimes against humanity. Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, aka Carlos the Jackal, a native Venezuelan convicted of terrorist crimes, and currently serving a life sentence in France for the 1975 murder of an informant for the French government and two French counter-intelligence agents. While in prison he was further convicted of attacks in France that killed 11 and injured 150 people and sentenced to an additional life term in 2011, and then to a third life term in 2017. Manuel Noriega, ruler of Panama from 1983 to 1989 who had longstanding ties to United States intelligence agencies. In 2010, Noriega was extradited to France, where he was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment for money laundering. In 2011 France extradited him to Panama, where he was incarcerated for crimes committed during his rule.

The list of famous inmates is too long to name them all here.

The prison has also known dramatic escapes. In 1986, one prisoner named Michel Vaujour, gangster and bank robber, escaped in a helicopter piloted by his wife.

§§§

But the majority of Levallois-Perret residents strongly defend their mayor, Patrick Balkany, especially the senior citizens who benefit from all sorts of (free) social and community programs. “We live well here,” they say, “He’s an excellent mayor who has transformed the community, and we can’t imagine anyone replacing him.”

When asked directly about his fraud conviction, they replied “That’s his personal business, it doesn’t concern us.” (Actually, it does because Levallois-Perret is also the most heavily indebted municipality in France. These same residents could very well find those generous social and community programs drastically cut or eliminated.)

“I’ve lived here for 44 years,” said another happy resident. “Every time I run into Mr. Balkany on the street he’s very friendly. He kisses me on the cheek and says “Comment ça va, ma belle?” He’s done a lot to improve the quality of life here: he’s created parking spaces, we have a new municipal pool and cinema, lots of activities for the kids.”

“Personally, I prefer to have a mayor like him who’s efficient and dynamic, than an honest mayor who sleeps on the job.”

balkany this one

The well-loved mayor now in jail.

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into the beautiful

Every year at the end of summer, I think of this poem. It’s one of my favorites.

Into the beautiful, by Emily Dickinson

As imperceptibly as grief
The summer lapsed away,
Too imperceptible, at last
To seem like perfidy.

A quietness distilled
As twilight long begun,
Or Nature spending with herself
Sequestered afternoon.

The dusk drew earlier in,
The morning foreign shone,
A courteous, yet harrowing grace,
As guest that would be gone.

And thus, without a wing,
Or service of a keel,
Our summer made her light escape
Into the Beautiful.

 

 

Chapon chocolate

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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 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.

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Does chocolate make you happy?

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

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Here’s my euphoria: buying some Chapon chocolate then crossing the street to the café, standing at the counter to order a double espresso and slowly savouring the coffee and chocolate together.

Cocoa and coffee bean heaven. Amen.

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

Here’s the website with a few other addresses:

http://www.chocolat-chapon.com/

Gail’s artisan bakery and Local Hero diner in Fulham

porridge and flat white coffee at Gail’s

Run, don’t walk, to Gail’s artisan bakery, there are many dotted around the city, some take-out, others sit-down. Never have I tasted such scrumptious baked goods; not even in Paris. I visit the one on Fulham Road in south-west London. Thirteen years ago I lived and worked in London for a year. It was wonderful. A girlfriend of mine named Maya rented out her house to me; she was in Kenya for a year and didn’t want to leave the house empty. So we agreed on a “prix d’ami“, a friendly rate, and I paid her a modicum rent of only £300. a month (for an entire house in fashionable Fulham, unheard of!) I signed on with a temp agency and had interesting short, medium and long-term temp jobs working mainly in law firms in central London and The City. I also enrolled in an evening photography course at Central Saint Martins, the arts and design college. Back then, it was located on Charing Cross Road in central London.

Nights, after my course at around 10 pm, I’d jump onto the number 14 bus and climb the stairs to the top deck. From my front seat up top, London by night would unfold before my dazzled eyes: Piccadilly Circus, Hyde Park Corner, South Kensington, the Brompton Cemetary, the FFC (Fulham Football Club) and all along the very long Fulham Road. Those were happy times. Unfortunately, Maya died young of lung cancer in 2011, just after selling her house on Munster Road for nearly one million pounds. Her Polish parents, after emigrating to England in the early 1950s, had scraped their money together and purchased that house for a thousand pounds.

Over a decade later, I still visit that area because I have happy memories of the place (mingled with sad memories because Maya is no longer around.) If you walk or take the bus to the very end of Fulham Road and head towards Putney Bridge, there’s a beautiful sprawling park called Bishop’s Park. It has large old trees, a beautiful church called All Saints’ Church, and a lovely rose garden. Running alongside the River Thames is a riverside walk that I did often on Sundays. I loved it there.

Here’s Gail’s located at number 341 Fulham Road. I had porridge served with date molasses and a “flat white” coffee. Yummy-yum!

Now, if you can believe it, there’s an even yummier place further down the road, much further, you’ll need to jump on the bus to get there. Located at 640 Fulham Road, it’s called LOCAL HERO.

I had this memorable breakfast which I’m going to re-create this weekend: smoked salmon and smashed avocado on lightly toasted Danish rye and topped with rocket (arugula), sun-dried tomatoes, lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil (not sure what the seeds were.) All of the ingredients are high quality, and with two cups of “flat white” coffee, the meal was divine.

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It’s a small local place, and the best reason to go there is because it’s INDEPENDENT and not part of a chain. Sit inside, out front, or out back where there’s a really nice terrace.

In Paris, you just don’t find this sort of inventive food, or at least, I’ve never seen it.

Across the road is an independent bookshop called Nomad Books.

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Here’s a charming and very English B&B in the Fulham area, located just down the road from where I lived, and near the river:

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