the king’s coronation

Myriad thoughts ran through my head as I partially watched today’s event.

“What contact or connection do commoners have with royalty?” None whatsoever, for the majority of them.

“Why would a human bow, curtsy or genuflect before another human to show deference or servility?”

“What must it be like to be referred to as ‘subjects of the monarchy’ and not ‘citizens’?

See, that’s the difference right there between the British and the French. 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose political philosophy influenced the Age of Enlightenment throughout Europe as well as aspects of the French Revolution, argued against the idea that monarchs were divinely empowered to rule. It is only the people who are sovereign, who have that all-powerful right, he attested. (This explains why the French populace, right up to today, are such fervent street protesters.) “C’est la rue qui gouverne” is the adage in France. Translation: It’s the street that rules.

France abolished its monarchy in 1792. The last king, Louis XVI, was executed by guillotine in a public square. Nine months later, his wife, Queen Marie-Antoinette, met with the same fate. It was she who supposedly said “Let them eat cake”, her response upon being told that her starving peasant subjects had no bread. Because cake is more expensive than bread, the anecdote served as an example of Marie-Antoinette’s obliviousness to the conditions and daily lives of ordinary people.

Which brings us back to the core members of the British royal family (I exclude the younger generation). They are not ordinary. From birth, they have led exalted, rarefied lives surrounded by great wealth, privilege and a retinue of attendants: manservants, ladies-in-waiting, valets, grooms, gardeners and stablemen, to name a few. They are distant, detached and disconnected from their subjects. Although it is true that Princess Anne, actively involved in 300 different charities, is known to be the hardest-working member of the family. I happen to think that Anne is kinda cool. While the other royals, cloaked and swaddled in their silks and finery, sat in comfort inside Westminster Abbey, she chose to ride on horseback (in the rain) with the Household Cavalry Regiment and serve as bodyguard to her older brother during the procession.

Since the death of Queen Elizabeth II, rumblings of discontent have amplified. Why does the monarchy still exist in 2023? What purpose does it serve? And why must British taxpayers fund the ludicrously wealthy royal family’s expenses? The total amount paid in 2021-2022 was 86.3 million pounds. Britons are struggling. Since Brexit, the Ukraine war and COVID, child poverty, hunger and food banks have increased dramatically. Some pensioners (senior citizens) must choose between HEAT or EAT. Energy bills have skyrocketed despite oil and gas firms reaping obscene profits in the billions.

The anointed ones.

Charles and Camilla, gem-studded crowns on their heads, transported through the streets of London in a golden carriage (drawn by six white horses) … it’s phantasmagorical; they look like characters in a fairy tale or a Disney movie. Strip away the artifice and they’re just humans like the rest of us …. aren’t they??

The British Royal Family does not reflect today’s society. It’s anachronistic.

Listen to this articulate anti-monarchist on a popular English radio call-in show. I’m a fan of James O’Brien who is virulently opposed to the British Conservative Party which is similar to the Republicans in the USA –


Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Author interview        Posted by Literary Titan      May 1, 2023


An Accidental Parisian is a memoir chronicling your journey from Toronto to navigating the challenges of being a French national and citizen of three countries while unraveling the forces and circumstances that brought you to where you are today. Why was this an important memoir for you to write?

In order to fully understand how and why I got here, I needed to reach back and trace the trajectory of my life from happy child, rebellious teenager and questing adult to the European citizen and resident of France that I am today. I needed to see how circumstances and family events dictated my choice to settle permanently in Europe (and not in my homeland of Canada). In this respect, I wrote the memoir for myself.

The second motivating influence were the other Parisian memoirs I had read, written by British, American, Canadian, and Australian women like me. While very good and hugely entertaining, I concluded that my personal story was just as interesting as theirs … even more so!

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

The death of my parents and the void it has left in my life. I miss their presence and their integrity; their benevolence and emotional support. But writing about my mother and father brought them back to life (and evoked happier times), so it wasn’t entirely painful.

What is one thing about Paris that you feel is little-known or underrated?

The diversity and charm of the different neighborhoods and arrondissements of the city. Throw away your tourist map and get lost; there are hidden gems to discover when one dares to stray off the beaten track. Leafy parks, gardens, and squares; small museums; churches, canals, and quiet residential boulevards. Admire the elegant Haussmann architecture and pop into boutiques, bistros, and boulangeries frequented by the locals. Currently, my two favorite arrondissements for exploring are the 12th and the 14th.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your story?

To be adventurous. To have faith in the universe. To step out of your comfort zone and open yourself up to new experiences; hopefully, you’ll be rewarded.

Also, to be your own best friend. Life is full of surprises, good and bad, and unexpected detours. You might lose friends and family along the way … people will betray you … and you’ll have only yourself to fall back on. So, self-reliance. You need to be there … for you. You need to be your own cheerleader and support system.



a holiday weekend, and my favorite food store in the Marais

The plan was to meet at the Maison de la culture du Japon until my Franco-Asian friend informed me that it’s closed on Sunday. So we ended up in a different part of the city (the Marais) to immerse ourselves in Italian culture rather than Japanese. EATALY is like taking a day trip to Italy.

I make home-made pizza a lot and needed special flour. Considered the gold standard for pasta and pizza dough, 00 is a finely ground Italian flour.

A bottle of balsamic vinegar? An entire aisle is devoted to this product. Same with olive oil, pesto, pasta, tomato sauce, etc.  In North America, you can find Eataly in New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Toronto.

Right beside EATALY, located at 37 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004, is the Brazilian cosmetic and skin-care store, NATURA. Plant-based and eco-friendly, their beautiful products exude an exotic fragrance that enhances the bath, shampoo and skincare experience. Fresh, floral and citrusy (vegan formula, rich in Omega 9 and 96% ingredients of natural origin).


new advertising campaign for SNCF

The SNCF (Société nationale des chemins de fer) is France’s national train network. I love train travel. As you know, I recently took the SNCF from Paris to Barcelona, a seven hour journey. In 2019, the year before COVID, I travelled from Rome down to Lecce (Puglia) and back up again to Bologna on Italy’s excellent train network. From Bologna I travelled up to Milan, changed trains and journeyed onwards to Nice where I stayed for 3 days. From Nice, back up to Paris. All by train. A great and memorable trip that I’d do all over again in a flash.

Back in the 1990s, I travelled from New York City to New Mexico on AMTRAK. The first leg was NYC to Chicago whereupon I boarded the Southwest Chief and settled into my sleeping cabin. After crossing Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Colorado, I arrived in Santa Fe two days later where my friend, Lori, and another friend were waiting for me. I remember seeing beautiful sunsets and coyotes on the Kansas plains.

Taking the train is the most environmentally-friendly way of traveling. I’m a seasoned train traveller, and I approve this message –


a crisp, chic seersucker blazer

Who doesn’t like seersucker? Last year in the June sales I went everywhere trying to find a seersucker blazer. I found one in a Gérard Darel boutique in Lille, but it wasn’t my size. So I gave up looking. And then this morning, my colleague blithely strolled into the office and I gasped.

“J’adore!” I exclaimed.

“What?” she replied, surprised and looking around her.

“Your blazer. Seersucker!”

And guess what? The French actually say “seersucker”, but with a cute accent. I asked if I could take a photo.

Le seersucker est un tissu gaufré en coton d’origine indienne. Seersucker is a cotton waffle fabric of Indian origin.

But it wasn’t just the blazer, it was the whole look. This, ladies and gents, is the quintessential Parisian look, known as BCBG (bon chic, bon genre). But not anywhere Paris. From the chic districts: the 6th, 7th, 16th arrondissements. Maybe the 12th. Or further out in the western burbs: Neuilly-sur-Seine or Saint-Germain-en-Laye. The silk scarf artfully wrapped and tied around the neck. The upturned sleeve cuffs. The jeans always worn with a belt. The open blazer – if you must button, NEVER close the bottom button!

Here’s the three-button rule: top button, sometimes. Middle button, always. Bottom button, never.

Vanessa Paradis

This was the song at the top of the charts when I arrived in France. Vanessa was 14 here. She became an overnight sensation and France’s darling. Eleven years later she’d meet Johnny Depp and have a relationship (and two children) with him. She’s had a super-interesting life.


adiós, Valencia. I’ll be back!

Another beautiful flight back to Paris on an early Saturday evening. Thank you again, Air France, for transporting me safely back to my home destination. The crowds arrived (in Valencia) on the Saturday morning. For that reason alone, I was glad to be leaving. As mentioned previously, the day before (Good Friday) was very quiet and I practically had the streets and squares of that beautiful city to myself. Many shops and sites were closed. So when I went to the famous covered market, re-opened on the Saturday morning, there was an explosion of people, both locals and tourists.

Easter buns for the kids.

I’m in paradise. a sunny paradise.

It’s the start of the long Easter weekend, and I’m so glad I’m here and far from the cooler clime and political unrest of France. Today was a perfect day, and it’s not yet over. I spent a few hours at the Silk Museum and it was super interesting (more on that below). I just wanted to say again, because I’ve said it before: sunshine makes all the difference. I no longer want to live in a gray, drizzly climate. There are multiple health benefits of sunlight.

As for air-conditioning, this compact and powerful AC unit is to be found in every hotel room, restaurant, apartment and shop in the country. I’ve never seen them in France, or anywhere else. Why not?

I snacked all day and tried some local foods.

Churros dipped into thick warm chocolate.

O.J. and spinach empanada

The city is very quiet, I don’t know where everyone is on this long Easter weekend. I made my way to the Silk Museum and spent an enjoyable two hours learning about the 15th-century silk trade originating with Arab and Jewish merchants and spreading west through Genoa, Florence, Spain and France. I also learned about silk worms, mulberry leaves and the making (and dying) of silk thread from cocoons. France, it turned out, was the pre-eminent leader of the silk industry. King Louis XI set up a national silk trade in Lyon, consisting largely of Italian workers from the region of Calabria, known for its master silk weavers. By the 16th-century, Lyon was the capital of the European silk trade, and by the middle of the 17th-century, over 14,000 looms were operating in that city.

It was an enjoyable and enlightening two hours. Afterwards, thirsty and hungry from all that learning, I sauntered into the museum’s garden courtyard (near empty) for a glass of wine and lunch.

Like I said, I’m in paradise.

a delicious dinner

I’ve just returned to my rental apartment (it’s 9:45 pm) after eating a delicious dinner at a nearby brasserie. Simple food, but darn good. As I walked home in the dark (two short blocks), I was grateful to be in a country with a low crime rate. One feels relaxed in Spain. As I type this, I can hear shouts and yells from the street. There’s a soccer match on, not sure who is playing. (Barcelona and Real Madrid, I think.)

I ordered this delicious bottle of Rioja because I knew I was going to eat two nights in a row in the same brasserie. Truly excellent. Followed by a simple steak and roasted vegetables.

When I had finished, I asked if they had any cheese (and bread) with which to finish off the wine. This is what we do in France. The smiling waitress brought me this cheesecake. Did I say “cheese with bread” wrong?? Queso con pan? Lost in translation, I guess. Anyway, it was delicious.