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Blue Skies, Red Geraniums, and the Color of Law

Red geraniums in the window box outside Adrian Leeds' window in Paris

The geraniums were planted first thing Saturday morning and now I’m praying like hell that it stays warm enough to ensure their bright and happy future. It’s such a pleasure to have them back in my windows. It may seem like a small thing to you, but in today’s world, it’s the small things that seem to make the biggest differences.

Paris under blue skies

Paris under blue skies

I’ve tried to get an appointment in Nice to get the AstraZeneca vaccine they are doling out to the 50 to 74 year-olds, but one must respond within seconds of getting the notice, or the appointments are gone. Ella Dyer received the text at 3:05 p.m. and took the first time slot, then ran up there with no time to lose. Patty Sadauskas scored a Sunday morning appointment and waited 30 minutes in line…not bad. I am hoping that next weekend when I’m back in Nice to be so lucky. Paris is not yet making it available to my age group unless one has a medical condition such as diabetes, hypertension or cancer. I don’t qualify. “C’est la vie en France.”

Covid vaccination center in Nice (by Patty Sadauskas)

Covid vaccination center in Nice (by Patty Sadauskas)

Saturday and Sunday were both gloriously sunny in Paris with blue, blue skies, void of even a wisp of a cloud. (Thank goodness for small favors.) A friend and I stopped at L’As du Fallafel on rue des Rosiers (number 34) for a “shawarma,” then walked over to the Place des Vosges to lay a spread on the grass in the sun and have lunch. Even in the high 40-degree temperature, it didn’t feel too cold under the warm rays. One young gentleman was just leaning on a lamppost, his ear pods tuned into whatever, his face lifted toward the sun to take in every possible ray. A group of Girl Scouts formed a circle on the grass nearby to have an outing. It was a welcome change from spending so much time indoors away from other human beings and I wonder when will our lives return to normal?

L'As du Fallafel on rue des Rosiers

Young French man leaning on a lampost in the sun at Place des Vosges in Paris France

Basking in the sunshine at Place des Vosges

Girls Scouts congregating at Place des Vosges

Girls Scouts congregating at Place des Vosges

I just learned that May 5th is the 200th anniversary of the death of Napoleon so expect to hear a lot about him in the coming months. I grew up in Louisiana with a form of Napoleonic Code. Also called the “‘French Civil Code of 1804’ defined the concept of equality before the law and also secured the right to property. This code abolished the feudal system and freed peasants from serfdom and manorial dues as well as improvement in the transport and communication systems.” (Author unknown.) Louisiana employs 70 percent English common law, and 30% percent Napoleonic Code.

Portrait of Nepoleon Bonaparte

The real estate exam in Louisiana is based on the same ratio, but the two tests combined are three hours long. For the “national” portion, you are given 105 minutes. For the separate Napoleonic Code portion, you are given 75 minutes. You must pass both. That’s actually about a 60 to 40 ratio. For the three-day-long bar exam, the “Code” sections are weighted twice as much as the “non-Code” sections. Two of the three days’ tests are on Napoleonic Code.

Napoleon was sympathetic to the Jewish situation (although some historians argue this point, claiming his reasons were political, not sympathetic). He enacted laws that emancipated them, establishing them as equal citizens, overriding laws that restricted them to living in ghettos and lifted laws preventing them from the rights to property ownership, worshiping and holding certain occupations. But, with that came other policies designed to promote integration into French society and erode their Jewish distinction. This does not surprise me considering the French viewpoint on “laïcité”—secularism.

The “Napoleon Complex” is a term used to describe short people who suffer from an overly-aggressive or domineering social behavior. He has been described as having a string of insecurities: “class inferiority, money insecurity, intellectual envy, sexual anxiety, social awkwardness and, not surprisingly, a persistent hypersensitivity to criticism.” Hence, the “Napoleon Complex.”

(Note: Thanks to Ray Ruiz of New Orleans for this enlightening information about Napoleonic Code.)

This fits with a book I am reading (actually on audio book) that has me fascinated, mesmerized, enlightened and saddened: “Caste (Oprah’s Book Club): The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson. Like the light bulb that went off when I learned the difference between English Law and Napoleonic Code (NAPOLEONIC CODE: “Everything which is not allowed is forbidden.” ENGLISH LAW: “Everything which is not forbidden is allowed.”), Caste has opened my eyes to the foundation of the race issues in the U.S.—not just the symptoms that disturb us, but the true cause and effect of our own creation of a caste system that is so counter to our democratic beliefs.

Cover photo of Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

I urge everyone to read it, especially if don’t think you live with prejudice…but really do without even knowing it.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds basking in the sunsine at Place des Vosges in Paris FranceAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

Adrian basking in the sunshine at Place des Vosges

House Hunters InternationalP.S. Surprise, surprise, surprise..three of our recent House Hunters International episodes are still online at HGTV! They’ve never done this before. Vist our HHI page for details and links to the episodes on HGTV for “A Parisian Place for Mother and Daughter,” “From Vancouver to the Vineyards of Epernay, France” and “The Good Life in Paris.”



  1. Roger DUTSCHKE on March 8, 2021 at 9:28 am

    Merci, Adrian, for this post – they are always terrific but this is possibly one of the best I’ve read. I’m particularly pleased to know about “Caste…” which will be an easy means/vehicle for sharing with my friends my own quest to better understand what makes racism ‘click’ – which hopefully should help us all decipher how to deal with it. Thx again for this post.

  2. Amarie G on March 8, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    Hi, Adrian. Yes, CASTE is a must read for everyone. It really ties together the prejudices of the societies with meaningful descriptions of the origins, and a lot of surprising facts that most don’t know. I’m so glad you recommended it.

    Saw the photo of the people sans masks outside the Fallafel house. I don’t understand why people don’t wear the masks outside when in crowds. (And the exception for smoking is ridiculous – even Spain doesn’t allow that.) No wonder France is having difficulties. I am pleased though to see more vaccines rolling out. I’ve had both doses. We are doing well in our state with vaccines and positivity rate is down to some of the lowest levels as well as hospitalizations. We still only have about 25% of the population vaccinated, but most in the 65+ are or have been vaccinated. Best of luck getting yours!

    • Adrian Leeds Group on March 9, 2021 at 3:16 am

      Thank you for your comments. The photo of l’As du Falaffel was from pre-Covid times.

  3. Jean Hardginski on March 10, 2021 at 7:15 pm

    I’ve eaten at l’As du Falaffel…it’s good… but if you haven’t tried Pitzman yet, 8 Rue Pavee (a block north of the Carousel by the Saint-Paul metro), it’s fantastic in my opinion! Since we can’t get back to Paris yet, have a falafel for me!

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