About julesparis2013

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

one day I will leave Paris …

One day I will leave Paris, and when I do there are places I will miss terribly.

The problem with being an expatriate is that eight times out of ten your fellow expat friends eventually return home. This happened to many of my friends. Angela returned to Glasgow. Alice moved on to Geneva. Sherry moved back to London. Ffion moved back to northern Wales. Maya moved back to London (and then died.) My ex-fiancé moved up to Lille. It’s almost as if Paris was a parenthesis for them, an interlude in which to learn the language, meet interesting people and have wildly exciting adventures before pulling out and settling down to a ‘real’ life back home or in another city.

But what’s a ‘real’ life? Is my life less real because I stayed? And why am I still here? This is indeed food for thought which prompted me to write my memoir, due out in a few months. It was necessary for me to trace the trajectory of my life in order to understand why I’m still living in Paris when it was not at all my intention to do so. I come from a beautiful country (Canada) where I had lived a beautiful life. It was a given, and was indeed my plan, to one day go home.

But things happened after the deaths of my parents in the 1990s – drastic, unexpected and unforgivable things on the part of one single malevolent person: a family member (with the complicity of her husband and corrupt lawyers.) The end result is that I no longer wanted to return home.

They say many things about writing memoir: it’s like an exorcism; an excavation site; an “autopsy of the living and the dead.” That last simile is a quote from Kate Braverman, intrepid American poet-novelist who recently died.

It’s been an interesting ride, this memoir-writing. It unearths all sorts of things.

One day I will leave Paris, and when I do there are places I will miss terribly. Here are some favorite shopping and lunch places that I know for sure I will miss –

https://julietinparis.net/2018/05/12/lunch-shopping-saturday/

Paris dispatch. A New York Times article about Moroccan shopkeepers in Paris.

This lovely but sad human story ran two weeks ago. I’m posting it below because it’s a story I can relate to.

It’s only in the Arab shops that you find yourself lingering and having friendly chats with the owner/manager. The North African Arabs do what the French merchants no longer do: make house deliveries, give you the lowdown on the local gossip; offer a bowl of water for a thirsty dog, a bonbon to a child. My Moroccan shopkeeper two streets over gave me a remedy for a knee flare-up once, and a bouquet of fresh mint leaves with which to make tea. The Algerian shopkeeper at the foot of my street opened a jar for me once (for me, it was impossible to open). He also held my apartment keys to give to a visiting friend while I was at work.

The keys, I normally would have given to my Moroccan concierge, Jemma, who lived and reigned over my apartment building for nearly 40 years. But she’s gone now, she retired last year, and I miss her. She always had a smile for me and we’d have long, long chats, something I don’t have with the other tenants (except for one, my neighbor next door.) And she knew the building inside out. If the furnace broke down in winter or the electricity turned off, she was on it. A few months ago the furnace conked out and no one knew what to do (it was a freezing cold Sunday.) As we sat shivering in our respective apartments, I feel certain we were all thinking the same thing: if only Jemma were here.

Whenever she came back from a visit to Marrakech, she’d bring me a small box of the most divine Moroccan pastries. My favorite was corne de gazelle, a crescent-shaped cookie made from almond paste, perfumed with orange flower water and dusted with icing sugar. Every year during Ramadan I’d take food gifts to her and her two sons and daughter: a box of plump Iranian dates. An almond cake. Lebanese pastries.

Jemma dished all the gossip, and not just the gossip in our building, but the whole street. Now that she’s no longer here, we all feel a little bereft (not to mention out of the loop), as if we were a building of orphaned tenants. These days, once the concierge retires he or she is rarely replaced. As an aside, concierges (also called le gardien) in Paris were traditionally Portuguese.

The Algerian shop at the end of my street is open until midnight. I can tell you that sometimes when I come home late at night, walking from the metro station to my apartment building in the dark, it’s reassuring to know that it is open – the lights in his shop are like a beacon.

Here’s the article. Read it and weep. Because when that Moroccan convenience store shuts down to be replaced by one of those shiny gentrified cold corporate chain stores, what will become of the small and touching human stories? What will become of us?

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.

https://www.theguardian.com/global/2020/feb/23/ne-me-touche-pas-the-shift-in-sex-and-power-sweeping-france