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Planted In A Sea Of Poppies


October 1, 2002


Early Saturday morning walking to meet International
Living’s CFO, Lief Simon, at his tiny Marais hotel, Le
Pratic (with no lift and rooms just barely large enough to
support a double bed), I noticed a young woman putting silk
red long-stemmed poppies into a blob of putty every few
feet along the sidewalk. The flowers stretched all the way
down rue de Turenne and when I arrived at Place du Marché
Sainte Catherine, not only were all the streets ribboned
with the red flowers, but the entire place was planted in a
sea of poppies.

Then it dawned on me…this week was the 6th annual Fête
des Jardins, where the “gardeners of France share their
secrets.” How incredulous that the city would go to the
trouble and expense of distributing flowers all over town
for the promotion of the festival and the sheer pleasure of
the happiness it brings.

By 10 a.m., the flowers had been “picked” by passers-by and
the mounds of putty had been smeared on the sidewalks like
doggy poop. People were carrying one or more flowers. The
foggy cool morning had turned sunny and warm and bright. It
was a glorious day.

Events took place all over the city, but we happened onto
“Le Village de la Fête des Jardins de Paris” at the Parvis
Notre Dame. Booths had been set up under white tents for
various agencies of the “Direction des Parcs, Jardin et
Espaces.” Sculptures of plants and flowers had been
installed in a central courtyard of amazing stature.
Demonstrations and lectures under the tents were educating
interested would-be gardeners. Pictures were being taken.
Discussions among friends could be overheard about this and

Not far away at the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, there was
another set of white tents set up and a series of garbage
trucks from years past stationed for viewing. One such
truck (the familiar bright green one) had been rigged so
that you could literally walk through it as you watched it
lift one of Paris’ large green plastic waste cans into the
barrel of the truck, dump the pretended waste, crush it and
start over again! Under the tents were recycling agencies
and artists who were showing works of art made from other
people’s discards!

No doubt, the city is promoting recycling of glass and
paper in a big way. Literature handed out claims that by
the end of 2002, “selective collection” will be introduced
in every arrondissement of Paris. There was lots of
literature made available, provided by the Mairie of Paris.
One is called “Le Magazine d’Information de la Ville de
Paris” and is available at any town hall in the city. It
outlines much of what is going on as sponsored by the city
and reports on events past. Of course, it’s all in French,
so brush up on your reading in French and take advantage of
this wonderful publication.

We suppose Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, elected in March 2001,
is responsible for all this activity in the city–cultural,
environmental, educational. And Monsieur Mayor, we are
loving every minute…!

A la prochaine fois,


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Parler Paris
Written and Edited by Adrian Leeds

Published by International Living
E-mail: [email protected]

Issue Number 58, October 1, 2002

In this issue:

*** Reinvent Yourself in Paris to Get a Job
*** Own a Piece of Paris by Borrowing from the Brits
*** British Bank BPI

Buys You a Beer and a Kir
*** Be Adrian Leeds’ Guest for a Week
*** Got a Carcassonne Bug in Your Ear and Can’t Get it Out
*** Sète-le in on the Mediterranean for Rare Property
*** Romantic Paris and Other Tales in Hardback and
*** Poetic License–A Reading at the Pompidou and at World
Poetry Day
*** Brushing Up for Living in French

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Almost everyone I know who came to Paris to fulfill their
dream to live here had to somehow recreate themselves to
find work or start a business and earn a living. When I
first met Libby (Lizbeth) Robinson, we were both in the
process of just that–volunteering at a local
English-speaking organization to make valuable networking
contacts and discover ways we could re-invent ourselves.

Now, Lizbeth Robinson is the Senior Partner of Soul Works
International, and will be speaking at the upcoming
International Living Working and Living in France
Conference (October 18 – 21) on this very topic.

Lizbeth Robinson holds an M.A. in Organizational
Development and Transformation. Not only is she a Senior
Partner at Soul Works International, but is also the
Executive Director of The Center for Awareness and Action,
a non-profit center dedicated to personal and professional
development in Paris. She has been adjunct faculty at the
California Institute of Integral Studies and has lectured
on leadership and personal mastery in Europe, the U.S. and

Her professional life began in the aerospace industry and
later on Wall Street as an investment analyst. She was a
speaker at the United Nations Forum on Women in Beijing,
China in 1995. She has spent the last six years helping
scores of people recreate their careers in France…just as
she did for herself!

SOUL WORKS INTERNATIONAL, 78 Boulevard Magenta, 75010 Paris
mailto:[email protected]?subject=ParlerParis,

Also speaking at the conference, is Rose Marie Burke,
author of “Working and Living in France: The Ins and Outs,”
an Insider Paris Guide available at

For more information about the conference, visit:

By Adrian Leeds

When my landlord said “Sorry, but we want to sell the
apartment,” I went into cardiac arrest…

Read the entire article at

An excerpt about how to get a loan…


The next step was to obtain a loan. I made an appointment
with my personal agent at my bank in Paris and discovered
tout de suite that if I didn’t have a salary deposited in
the bank monthly I wouldn’t be considered. That was
rejection number one. I made a trip to my hometown in the
States and met with my bank, my accountant, and my
attorney. My bank immediately said no, they would not lend
money on property outside the United States. My accountant
crunched the numbers and told me what kind of loan I could
afford. My attorney offered a way I could take out a
business loan and my U.S. business would buy the property.
Still, it was expensive at U.S. interest rates of about 9%
and complicated in having to set up the legal aspects of
the deal. I considered it rejection number two.

Then a close (and wise) friend asked one simple question:
“Have you thought about asking at the British banks?” No, I
hadn’t! Turns out, these lending institutions make loans
available to international customers. I visited three
banks: Woolwich Bank (now “BPI”), Abbey National and Banque
Transatlantic. All have agents who speak English, of
course. Banque Transatlantique was not interested in
working with me as I was not a customer of the bank with a
large ‘portfolio.’ Both Abbey National and Woolwich had
very creative loan options and were happy to take my
application. I chose to put 20% down on a variable rate
mortgage that maintained the same monthly rate, but varied
the term of the loan. The interest rates at the time were
more than 3% lower than the U.S. rates and more than 1%
lower than the French banks’ rates. The result was a
monthly mortgage payment almost the same as the rent I had
been paying, so in effect, the apartment purchase was
costing me only the down payment!

My loan application was accepted and the closing of the
sale took place without complications, to everyone’s
satisfaction, especially mine. I now have a little piece of
Paris I can call my own and now I wouldn’t trade it for all
the square footage, king-size beds and walk-in closets I
used to think life was all about.


Woolwich Group Barclays is now part of Group CFI, the
largest mortgage lender in France and is called BANQUE
PATRIMOINE ET IMMOBILIER (BPI). Mary Fort, Director of the
Paris agency, will be speaking at the upcoming
International Living Working and Living in France
Conference on October 21st and will be hosting the closing
cocktail festivities.

For more information about getting a mortgage or making an
appointment to see an agent at BPI, contact Schuyler
Hoffman at
mailto:[email protected]?subject=mortgage


Why stay alone in a hotel room when you can stay in Adrian
Leeds’ lovely newly remodeled bedroom? Located in her
17th-century 70-square-meter Marais apartment, the guest
room is available for short-term rental (one to two weeks).
Share the bath, living room and the newly remodeled
kitchen. All linens supplied and completely equipped with
Internet access, CD/Cassette player and cable TV.
References mandatory.

Pictures and more details available here:

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— by Leslie Cohen

A friend and I were in our beautiful suite in Carcassonne,
France after having our nine-course dinner in their very
classy medieval dining room with very fine wine for each

Earlier that day we had been on a tour of the region to
Minerve and, in the afternoon, on a lovely cruise of the
Canal du Midi, where we enjoyed more wine. Back in our
luxury suite with three views of the gardens from our
bedroom, two views from our sitting room and a bathroom
large enough for a small party, we had readied ourselves
for bed. Tucked in tightly and reading by lamp light, I
mentioned to Bharathi (my friend) that a moth had been
cruising around my lamp. Next thing I knew, I was batting
the moth away from my head and hair…so I thought.

THEN…all of a sudden no more moth. Yippee…or NO
YIPPEE…more like YIKES. The damned critter had flown
directly (not walked, mind you) but flew, directly into my
ear canal. It was nowhere to be seen but it was somewhere
to be heard. What a nightmare.

It would sit quietly in there. Then it would flutter,
flutter. Ick, ick. I was laughing and hitting myself in the
head. Bharathi was laughing, too, but it wasn’t going to be
easy to get to sleep and not end up in the looney bin.
Banging my head again on the pillow was doing nothing;
drowning it in the shower was doing nothing and worrying
about it laying more eggs was not making me laugh more.

Soooooo…since it was my ear, I decided to call a doctor.
I felt rather foolish particularly since it was now 1:00
a.m. in the morning and I had to make someone understand to
bring an otoscope. The doctor came by about 2:00. I was in
a red night shirt and Bharathi was in her red P.J.s. Thank
goodness I brought a flash light and she had purchased a
tweezer after we arrived.

So, now I had a doctor and an assistant. The doctor looked
in my ear with the scope, upset the moth and explained,
“There is an ‘animale'” and we said “yes, we knew.” (Are
you breaking up by now?) So, Bharathi took the flashlight,
the doctor took the tweezers; I stood very still; the
tweezers went into my ear canal; the moth fluttered a few
more times and then, aha, the doctor caught it by the wings
and brought it out fluttering.

We squished it under a book. I paid the doctor 65 euro; he
wrote a report which said there was a butterfly in my ear.
He left, we laughed at the absurdness of it all and went to

Our perils continued with a total tire blowout on the road
to Marseille. We also got caught in the disastrous flooding
that killed 23 people between Orange and Nimes. We are
great travelers and saw Provence from a different point of
view. We will definitely go back. We loved it all,
especially Avignon, Carcassonne and Toulouse. We are
counting the minutes ’til our next experience.


We’re going to Sète on October 25th–and I can’t wait! This
is where poet, Paul Valery, was born and is buried. Not to
mention George Brassens.

Dramatically jutting into the Mediterranean, Sète is to all
intents and purposes, an island and is an ancient and high
tonnage port, trading mainly with North Africa, which gives
it a faintly exotic air. There are two working canals
bisecting the downtown area, and wherever you go in Sète,
you’re always crossing water. Like all islands, you’ll find
property values here are higher than the inland properties,
but for good reason. There are some very well-developed new
apartments going up which look out over the Mediterranean.

October 22-27, International Living Discovery Tours will be
exploring Sète and the region of Languedoc-Roussillon, with
a small group of serious home-seekers, and journalist Val
MacQueen (who lives in the region).


ussillon offers an alternative to Provencal
living–the same great weather, beautiful landscapes
without the steep prices, the heavy traffic and the crime.

The itinerary is very exciting–and will give all a chance
to explore and discover what this region might offer for a
home away from home. There are only a few places left. For
more information, click here:


Books about shopping have just gained their own “rubrique”
at: /parlerparis/books/shopping.html

by Suzy Gershman

Over dinner at Chez Omar on rue de Bretagne, Suzy Gershman
talked about her unheated 300-year-old stone house in
Provence and the best flea market in Paris (actually
outside the city and not frequented by tourists). Her
series of shopping guides will take you all over the globe,
but she started right here in Paris with Born to Shop
Paris, now in its 9th edition. Updated every two years,
these compact, handy guides are packed with insider tips on
where to find the most fabulous fashions, the most unique
gifts, and the best bargains on everything from antiques to
housewares. Includes all the big names, and a Best Of
chapter that pinpoints exactly where to find the finest.

by Thirza Vallois, photography by Juliana Spear

Author of Around and About Paris and historian, Thirza
Vallois has just released her newest book–ROMANTIC PARIS.
Romantic Paris is an invitation to join in an
around-the-clock and a dream-come-true celebration of the
ultimate city of romance. Written by acknowledged Paris
expert, Thirza Vallois has the place at her fingertips and
gives you the best of the best of romantic Paris. Vallois
walks you to all the city’s treasured spots and secret
corners, and provides you with a choice of fabulous
places–hotels, restaurants, cafés, shops, museums, night
life–that she has carefully selected to suit couples of
all ages, all budgets, and as varied a spectrum as

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thirza Vallois is speaking at the upcoming
International Living Working and Living in France
Conference (October 18 – 21) and will be hosting the Grand
Tour of Paris — a four-hour bus excursion through the

If you are interested in hearing her speak, have dinner at
Chez Jenny and then join us only for the Grand Tour on
Sunday morning, please write us at
mailto:[email protected]?subject=DinnerandTour

Also, coming soon to Insider Paris Guides: INSIDER GUIDE TO
SEDUCTIVE PARIS, a serious look at how to “get what you
want” in Paris!

by Polly Platt

Let’s face it: the French have gotten a bad rap. Mention
that you’re considering a trip to France and everyone will
warn you about rude waiters, supercilious shopkeepers, and
snooty concierges who won’t give you the time of day–and
worse, pretend not to understand your high-school French.
Not so, says Polly Platt, author of French or Foe?; “The
French are generous, exhilarating friends,” but they are
different–wonderfully so. The trick to getting along in
France is understanding the culture and learning to accept
it on French terms instead of your own. Though the book is
designed primarily for people who will be living or working
in France for extended periods, the lessons Platt teaches
about manners, attitudes, and culture are invaluable for
even those visitors just passing through.

by Polly Platt

In “Savoir Flair: 211 Tips for enjoying France and the
French”, she has taken numerous interesting stories or
observations about an American operating in France, added a
punch line (i.e., tip) and organized them into 20 chapters.
What I particularly like about this book is you can read
just the topics of interest if you’re visiting Paris for a
vacation–topics like arriving at the airports, hotels,
using taxis, Métro, Cafés, French food–or you can read it
all if going there on business or longer. An example of
tips more oriented to those of us living in France include
comments on business meals, driving, the local scene, rural
living, or requesting information from the French (not as
obvious as you think)–just to name a few. Mrs. Platt, an
American, mixes humor with authority. She has lived in
Paris for over 30 years–she knows what she’s talking
about; intimately. This 290 page paperback is highly

By Claire Kincannon

“Help! He brought me to Paris a year ago last week. Now I
can’t talk, tell time, or get a legal job…” And so begins
the sometimes surprising and always amusing saga of coping
with everyday Paris life for an alien from a rural Virgina
village. Laugh and enjoy the journey. Claire Kincannon is a
woman of many talents which she has utilized in a varying
career pattern spread over the last fifty years. Artist,
designer, interior architect, journalist, radio theatre
critic and restaurateur, to name a few. In her mid-fifties
she was swept off to Paris and the experience of a lifetime
which resulted in her newest endeavor: “Paeonian to Paris”.
Claire Kincannon is also the author and designer/editor of
poetical anthologies, “Sheets to the Wind” (pub 2000) and
“Sheets for Men Only” (pub 2002).

By Claire Kincannon

An international anthology of poetry, prose and plays as
written by nineteen women from eleven countries of the


The Association Franco-Américaine “Double Change” invites
you to a reading with poet, John Ashbery, Thursday, October
10 at 7:30 p.m. at the Centre Pompidou, Level -1.

Double Change was founded in 2000 in order to juxtapose,
unite and reunite the poetry of France and the United
States in a new bi-national, multi-faceted forum.
Established as a not-for-profit organization in Paris and
with editorial boards in both France and the U.S., Double
Change looks to represent a diverse, eclectic spectrum of
poetic activity in both countries.

A series of readings, such as this one, has already begun
in Paris. American and French poets read together at the
jazz club the Duc des Lombards, in the center of Paris,
close to the Pompidou Center. Readings are free and open to
the public. For more information, visit their site at:

* EDITOR’S NOTE: If you are a budding poet, or a poet of
note, be sure to sign up to read your works at the WORLD
POETRY day, MARCH 21, 2003.

We will be celebrating World Poetry day, March 21, 2003
with special poetry workshops, speakers, discussions and
readings the days before and the days after, led by
published poet, Cecilia Woloch.

To learn more about the upcoming event or to be put on a
special mailing list for the PARIS POETRY WORKSHOP, send an
e-mail to
mailto:[email protected]?subject=Poetry


When I first met Marie-Elisabeth Crochard, she was the
Director of the Berlitz School of Language on the
Champs-Elysées (actually on avenue Franklin D. Roosevelt.
She sat behind a big desk that overlooked a patio with a
glass roof, was impeccably dressed, well-coiffed blonde
hair and spoke about her role as director and her ideas for
improvement and change with tremendous animation. I liked
her immediately.

The facility there was beautifully designed–perfect for
handling several small groups in private rooms. In passing,
just before leaving, I said, “I’ve had this idea to start a
French-English conversation group and I’m looking for a
facility.” With no breath taken, she replied, “And you just
found it!”

Within one month, the Parler Parlor French-English
Conversation Group was born. That was four and one-half
years ago and hundreds of people from 50 different nations
have crossed its thresholds.

Marie-Elisabeth Crochard has lived in four different
countries, raised two kids in the U.S. and managed numerous
Berlitz Schools of Language over the course of her almost
30-year career in language learning.

Today, she co-coordinates Parler Parlor, teaches French
privately to individual students and teaches the
International Living SURVIVAL FRENCH COURSE.

The Survival French Course taught by Marie-Elisabeth is
being offered THIS OCTOBER 16 AND 17 at Coprom Langues.
It’s designed to teach you how to master the basics–learn
the gre

etings, how to order your croissant, ask for the
check, the price of an item, sizes, colors, numbers, asking
for the time and all the key questions: who, what, where,
when, how…the use of the 10 basic verbs and where the
Musée d’Orsay is located. Also, become skilled at
exchanging pleasantries with the French–learning about the
social protocols most often misunderstood by tourists.

For more information, or to register, visit the site at:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Go to /parlerparis/

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If you would like to have your message read by the
subscribers of the Parler Paris Nouvellettre®, please e-mail
me at [email protected]

If you have links about Paris or France and would like
reciprocal links, please e-mail me at
[email protected]

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