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“Lucky Labor day, Mystery Machine Guns and Making Money”

Parler Paris…in 3 parts in honor of September 3:

Part I
Thirteen is a Lucky Number

For you it’s Labor Day and for me, it’s the 13th anniversary of the day I moved to Paris, arriving the following morning on September 4th as most of the U.S. to Paris flights do. I have complete faith that the 13th will not be an unlucky year, as each just gets better, and certainly even more interesting.

Part II
Machine Guns in the Marais

Saturday, passing in front of a building where I have known one of the residents, on the tiny and narrow rue Guillemites in Le Marais, a car sped past me, forcing me to the tiny sidewalk, stopping suddenly in front of me. The driver and passenger both opened their doors at the same time, jumping out holding machine guns, and ran into the building. Immediately following, a police van stopped at the next corner and a whole slew of cops got out, also holding machine guns, again entering the building. A man on a cell phone at the park across the street was stopped by two of the police and interviewed — it seemed he must have been the one to have called them.

I stopped to get out the camera quickly, but missed the main scene. Once they were all inside, there was no sound or movement, so I waited a while, but because I was beginning to run late for a next appointment, carried on as if nothing had happened…just an ordinary day in Paris! The French news doesn’t report these ‘little’ incidents, so, the end of the story may never be known…at least by us.

Part III
Money is a Dirty Word, Even in French Banks

You’re not supposed to have money and you’re not supposed to make money in France. You’re not even supposed to understand money in France. After 13 years, it is still shocking how little the French banking system knows about making money for themselves or their clients. Everyone I know has funny French banking stories.

At the end of this week, I will be signing the Acte de Vente (title deed) on a studio apartment in my own building that is a “viager” — a life annuity program that gives rights of usage to the previous owner until his death. The story about the apartment becomes more intriguing by the moment and one of these days will make a great screen play(!). Until then, my only hope is that either the elderly gentleman dies in the near future (not really) or he accepts my offer of money to relinquish his rights so that I can proceed to turn it into another great rental property (it has a big terrace, great views and and elevator!). I’ll keep you posted.

Nonetheless, moving the funds from various accounts to pay for the property was a relatively ea

sy affair using online banking, until I ran into the French banking system. Believe it or not, there is a LIMIT on how much one can keep in a savings account! In the case of CIC bank, it’s 50,000 euros.

Imagine my shock? I actually stood in the bank and asked the teller, “Do you mean you don’t want my money?? This is a bank, right??”

All I can think is that they just don’t want to pay interest on more than that! But, if any of you have a better reason for this ridiculous policy, I’d love to hear it, but nothing else logical comes to mind. Shrugging shoulders, the remainder of the money was deposited into the checking account bearing no interest at all.

As I was leaving the bank, the branch manager ran after me and asked me to please step into his office. He had been watching, no less, the unusual activity in the account with such large sums of money going in and out of the various accounts and wanted a complete explanation.

Again, I was shocked. When telling him that the money was transferred in to pay for an apartment, he then wanted to know why my mortgage wasn’t with CIC…to which I replied, “You wouldn’t give me a loan!” True — when first applying for a mortgage, they practically threw me out of the bank, as I had no regular salary going into an account there. Boy, was it ever satisfying to have the last word!

If anyone ever started a bank in France with a more pro-making-money attitude, I wonder if it would succeed fabulously or fail miserably from distrust by the French who think money is dirty and must be laundered? From what I understand, anyone with that much cash is hiding it in their mattresses for fear of the French tax authorities!

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

P.S. A lot is in store for you in the next month. Don’t miss:

1) La Rentrée Parler Paris Après Midi on Tuesday, September 11th;
2) Judith Merian’s “HOW TO HOOK THE SCRIPT READER AND AVOID THE PITFALLS” scriptwriting workshop on Saturday, September 15, 2007;
3) Parler Parlor’s Free Rentrée Breakfast Party Saturday, September 22nd and
4) Debra Martin’s “Connection with the Spirit World Sitting Circle” Thursday, September 27th and Friday, September 28th

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