Janet Hulstrand, Writer, Editor, Writing Coach and Teacher
"Demystifing the French"
Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher who divides her time between Essoyes, a village in southern Champagne, and various parts of the United States. She writes frequently for Bonjour Paris, France Today, France Revisited, and for her blog, Writing from the Heart, Reading for the Road. She created, and has taught “Paris Through the Eyes of Travelers” for the City University of New York in Paris nearly every summer since 1997, and since 2008 she has also led “Writing from the Heart” workshop/retreats in the French countryside.
Demystifing the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You is Janet’s newest book, which she'll be talking about with copies avaiable for purchase.
Don't miss it!
The second Tuesday of every month 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
One big reason I returned from Nice this week was so that I wouldn't miss Fête de la Musique in Paris. This longest day of the year, June 21st, is my favorite day of the year, too — as it's light from 5:46 a.m. (sunrise) to 9:57 p.m. (sunset) — almost 16 hours of daylight. Top that off with "music in the air" and "music everywhere" and the day is near to perfect, especially when the weather is as mild and dry as it was this year...sweater weather cool, breezy and rainless.
It has been my habit for years to dine "al fresco" at Place du Marché Sainte-Catherine where there is always a band of some kind, and then circle Place des Vosges (actually a square in shape) which is awash with choral groups and other musical ensembles. Once we've done that, we head north to my "neck of the woods" where "normally" there is music at the Mairie of the 3rd or at the Carreau du Temple.
This year our route was disappointing as we found little to get excited about, while I heard from others about other parts of Paris that were really hopping. So, I can see it's time to change tactics and rethink our geographic strategy for next year, or try out another city entirely! As it turns out, I should have stayed in Nice, where 30,000 people poured into Place Masséna to sing and dance to some of the world's greatest artists. I'll bet it would have topped our little stroll around Le Marais, although we had lots of fun anyway...tough not to!
Note: Don't bother writing to tell me how great it was in other parts of Paris. It will just make me jealous!
AMERICAN SAVIORS OF NOTRE DAME
Americans love to save the day: World War II/D-Day is just one example of which they are mighty proud. Then, you might remember the three young American guys who thwarted a terrorist attack on a high speed train from Amsterdam to Paris in 2015, putting the attention of the entire world on their bravery? We're still polishing our nails on our shoulders. In the case of Notre Dame, it's not with bravery that Americans are saving the day, but with their money, which is a helluva lot easier and less dangerous than war or wrestling an armed attacker.
As it turns out, American donations to the Fondation Notre Dame raised enough money to pay the salaries for the 150 workers at the cathedral since the fire on April 15th (about $4 million). Meanwhile, all those big public promises from French billionaires to the tune of hundreds of millions of euros haven't seen the light of day. They want too much control over where the money will be spent before they let loose of a single centime, hence it hasn't been forthcoming.
Who are the big talkers? Francois Pinault (Gucci and Saint Laurent), Patrick Pouyanne (Total), Bernard Arnault (Louis Vuitton and Dior) and Bettencourt Schueller Foundation (L’Oréal). They really need to put their money where their mouths are! I made an immediate small donation, then felt silly when I heard about the big players, but now I feel redeemed that my little shot in the arm might have made a difference.
You can also donate via The Friends of Notre Dame de Paris, which estimated that 90% of the donations it has received have come from American donors. Why are we not surprised?
Philanthropy is America's middle name. They are the most generous bunch of people in the world. In 2017, Americans gave a total of $410.02 Billion to charity, by individuals ($286.65 billion), by foundations ($66.90 billion), by bequest ($35.70 billion) and by corporations ($20.77 billion)! (Source: https://givingusa.org/) Interestingly, Republicans tend to give bigger gifts than Democrats, but more Democrats donate more in smaller amounts than Republicans.
Either way, we may have Americans to thank for the renovation of Notre Dame. Can you believe that?
METRO MADE EASY
Finally, the rechargeable transportation pass is here. Use your last Métro ticket, and get ready for a new generation. No more keeping track of tickets, figuring out which are used, which are not or seeing them littered all over the streets. Now you can get on the Métro, the bus, the RER, the OrlyBus and RoissyBus lines, tram lines and the Montmartre funicular all with one easy pass.
Easy peasy. Buy the card for €2 at all automatons, counters in stations and authorized RATP dealers. Each traveler must have his own card/pass. Then, just load it up with a single ride for €1.90, or a book of 10 for 14.90€ or a book of 10 (reduced rate) €7.45 (see ratp.fr/titres-et-tarifs/ for more information about who is eligible for reduced rates). One validation is good for 1.5 hours on the Métro or RER, without leaving the network, or 1.5 hours on the bus and tram network.
At the time of validation, the screen will show you how many tickets remain. An agent or automaton can always tell you as well. If your card is damaged, but at no fault of your own, it will be replace free of charge. Otherwise, you'll have to fork out another €2 for a new one. If you lose it, you lose and have to buy a new one. Sorry.
Since 1981, thousands of people have shown their pride by parading through Paris on the last Saturday of June. This year will be no different, with fifty or more colorful floats, hundreds of volunteers and thousands of marchers defending the equal rights of everyone, regardless of sexual persuasion. More than a half-million people will come to the streets to either participate or spectate.
The parade starts at Montparnasse at 2 p.m this coming Saturday, the 29th, then heads up Boulevard du Montparnasse, passes in front of Port-Royal, continues to the Boulevard Saint-Michel/Luxembourg, the Place Saint-Michel, the Boulevard du Palais, goes past Place du Châtelet, up boulevard Sébastopol, and turns onto Boulevard Saint-Martin. The parade arrives finally at Place de la République about 5 p.m. for a big, big party.
What I like to do is land at one of the big cafés near the end of the parade, wait for it to come in while drinking and having a bite to eat, then walk against the parade so that the entire snake can be viewed and experienced within a much shorter time than the estimated four hours they predict it takes to pass. Every year the same thing happens to me: I laugh my buns off while taking photos of the most outlandish things and wondering, with so many thousands of people proud of their sexuality, regardless of what it is, if the whole world is really gay and I'm the odd "woman" out?
P.S. If you haven't taken part in one of our North American Expat Financial Forums, you'll have another opportunity to do so soon. It won't take place until September, but we'll release all the information tomorrow so you can begin making plans to join us. Hope to see many of you there!
One-Bedroom Apartment on Avenue Gambetta, Nice
Just at the corner of avenue Victor Hugo and avenue Gambetta in Nice, where the new East-West Tramway will have a station, in a beautiful Art Deco building, is this superb 48.11 m2 two-room one-bedroom apartment with a west-facing balcony in perfect condition, fully renovated with high-quality amenities. It is composed of an entrance hall with an independent toilet, living room, fully equipped kitchen, and a large bedroom with bathroom.
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