Screen shot 2015-01-12 at 10.31.39 AMThe itinerary for yesterday’s march was no accident. Beginning at th Place de la République, we were marching with ancient Greek republican values to the Place de la Nation. A poignant reminder of who we are and what we believe in as a country, regardless of our race, religion or personal history.

Screen shot 2015-01-12 at 10.19.13 AMWhen we first heard about the march on Wednesday, Mr French mentioned it may be a good idea to attend. I had already attended that evening’s rally, and was happy that we’d be returning to show our support together. But my parents are visiting right now and I was torn about spending time with them or at the march. On Thursday evening I told them that we may possibly want to attend the event and asked if it would interest them. They had been horrified by the murders and were not against the idea, but were not entirely sure either.

Screen shot 2015-01-12 at 10.25.42 AMBy Friday evening we were at home, glued to the television watching French police storm Hyper Casher and it was no longer a question. We’d be attending the march together. The terrorists had attacked our liberty. Now they had hit fraternity and equality, the pillars of French culture.

By now, you may have read that 1.5 million bodies filled the streets of Paris, nearly 4 million people marched the streets of France and an estimated 100,000 showed their support in cities across the globe. More than 40 world leaders attended, including the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The president from Mali was there beside the leaders of Great Britain, Spain, Germany and Italy. The democratic world was by our side, acknowledging that not only France, but across the globe, freedom is under attack.

Screen shot 2015-01-12 at 10.20.40 AMWe met for lunch then headed to the metro at 2pm, a full hour before the march. Public transportation had been made free for the day but that is not why the train arrived packed like a sardine can. We waited for a second train, then a third. By the fourth train we decided to go for it. In the metro car, the mood was calm and understanding, everyone cooperating, but I was worried that the quais at Strasbourg Saint Denis would be packed and convinced Mr French we should get off two stops early, at Etienne Marcel.

Screen shot 2015-01-12 at 10.27.46 AMWe stepped out of the metro and were immediately part of the march, standing shoulder to shoulder with thousands heading to the Place de la République as one. We were of every age, color, religion and background. We were immigrants, ancient families, visitors. People came alone, as a family, with friends or co-workers. Normally, it would have been a brisk, 12 minute walk. Yesterday, we were blocked in an surrealistically calm traffic jam of humanity. There was none of the stereotypical French Screen shot 2015-01-12 at 10.20.19 AMpushing, and shoving. Everyone was kind and polite and there in solidarity for the values of the republic. It didn’t matter how long it took, being present was enough. There were no cries or chants. Occasionally crowd would break out into a spontaneous round of applause for a police officer or when emergency vehicles would pass. Egos dissolved, frustration dissipated. After two hours, just 100 metres from our destination, police turned us away. The Place was saturated. Typically there would have been cries of disgust or at the very least, people trying to sneak through. On Sunday, the crowd just held their signs up higher and headed back they way we’d arrived, looking for an alternative route. Screen shot 2015-01-12 at 10.19.43 AMOur group headed into a pastry shop, taking a very welcome break before returning to the streets and finally making it to the Republic.

The sun had set, the march had moved on, yet thousands remained lighting candles, brandishing colorful flags from across the globe and singing the Marseillaise in the name of democracy for all.

Click here if you’d like to more photos of the event on my Facebook.

Screen shot 2015-01-12 at 10.20.05 AM Screen shot 2015-01-12 at 10.18.07 AM Screen shot 2015-01-12 at 10.21.05 AM Screen shot 2015-01-12 at 10.21.20 AM Screen shot 2015-01-12 at 10.30.33 AMScreen shot 2015-01-12 at 10.31.22 AM  Screen shot 2015-01-12 at 10.32.18 AM Screen shot 2015-01-12 at 10.34.18 AM Screen shot 2015-01-12 at 10.34.07 AM


Screen shot 2015-01-08 at 11.33.22 AM

There are no words. That is the cliché. But, there have to be words. That is what yesterday’s attack was about. Silencing our words. Now is the time to cry out. Those who believe in the freedom of expression must shout that we will not be silenced. Mosques across France are calling out for prayers of peace.


Screen shot 2015-01-08 at 12.46.41 PMThere are so many words about yesterday’s events and the world we have created. But today I want to bring you with me to the Place de la République last night, where 35,000 Parisians gathered to show their profound respect for those assassinated and their beliefs.


Getting out of the metro, the quais were disturbingly deserted. I had Screen shot 2015-01-08 at 12.46.49 PMbeen expecting a crowd. There was just the regular scene of commuters. Until I got to the exit, where armored CRS officers were directing everyone to use the exit at the other end of the station. That is where the crowd began. A person jam at the sortie, up the stairs and spilling on to the Place.


Screen shot 2015-01-08 at 12.47.00 PMScreen shot 2015-01-08 at 12.48.52 PMScreen shot 2015-01-08 at 12.47.42 PMIt had been very cold earlier in the day, but by evening the weather felt almost mild. The sky was an elegant dove grey with amber lights radiating form the buildings in gentle arcs. At 18h37 the place was packed but not quite a sardine Screen shot 2015-01-08 at 12.50.58 PMtin. I startScreen shot 2015-01-08 at 12.47.27 PMed in the near a kiosk where five people were on chairs, each holding a human sized poster of a black and white portrait of the four victims who had been identified, the fifth person in the middle with a CharlieHedbo sign.Screen shot 2015-01-08 at 12.50.45 PM

Weaving through the crowd, I made my way to the statue in of the Republique. There was a reason we were meeting here and not the Champs de Mars or the Hôtel de Ville, or an other large space in the city. We were not honoring war, or government, we were there in support of republican ideals, the ideals founded in ancient Greece, the French Republic established after the revolution.

It was a muted crowded, gathered for a minute of silence. As 19h approached, it was like having cotton in one’s ears, with only muffled conversations wafting by. Then there was silence. At 19h01 posters were unfurled from the statue and the crowd broke out into applause before shouting “Liberté d’expression”. These were quiet shouts. An oxymoron, and hard to describe, but most people had come to grieve and mourn and show the terrorist we were not terrified.Screen shot 2015-01-08 at 12.49.33 PM

There were women with tears streaming down their faces, a young group holding electric panels spelling out “Not Afraid”. While we could not shout, there was a collective need to share a gesture. A group had brought paper lanterns that they lit and released, golden warmth soaring up to the heavens. People started pulling out their pens, Screen shot 2015-01-08 at 12.51.12 PMholding them in the air, shouting in silence, “We are all Charlie”.

Today there is a call to light a candle in our windows for Charlie Hebdo. There is another gathering at the Place de la République, this time being held by the Mayor of Paris. And just now there was a moment of silence. I am writing this from my local café. The owner turned the lights off and the TV on to news station broadcasting the chimes of Notre Dame, ringing for the full 60 seconds as the chef stopped cooking and we all stood, honoring the words of Charbo, “I’d rather die standing then live on my knees.”

TScreen shot 2015-01-08 at 12.13.27 PMhe names of those who were assassinated yesterday defending our right to freedom of expression.


Screen shot 2014-10-14 at 12.09.43 PM

When I was not writing about Monaco these past few weeks, I was putting together the 7th edition of LUXE Paris. My world has become limited to words. By the time my family comes home at the end of the day, I have a hard time putting two of them together to start a sentence. It has become something of an obsession lately. And not just for me, but the whole country was talking about some choice words last week. The words : Madame le président.

Those were the words used by an Assemblyman when addressing the president of a meeting in the French congress last week and the masculinization of her title was so shocking it resulted in a formal reprimand. A rather serious one that included the loss of 1/4 month’s pay. There were regular blurbs reminding us about the slur on every channel. When I asked Em what the fuss was about, she asked what fuss I was referring to. Mr French had heard the reports, but even he had no idea why it had caused such a scandal. In fact, a lot of native French speakers were at a loss to understand what was so insulting about the term.

It is no exaggeration that French is a tough language to master. Beyond the titles, some nouns mean different things depending on the gender. Un oeuvre is a porfolio of somebody’s work, while une oeuvre is a piece of work, like a painting or sculpture (or do I have that backwards? You see how hard it is?) A memory becomes a memoire.

I was actually quite relieved to learn that I am not the only one who struggles with these little details that seem to make big difference. Not only do I feel like incompetent, but it forced Le Figaro newspaper to print an article in French explaining to the French why Madame le présidente is such a slur. Assemblywomen, it would seem, would like their jobs feminized. Just to make things less clear, female government Ministers do not request the same priveledge, so Ségolene Royal is indeed, Madame le Ministre. This is the formula preferred by the Academie Françaises, the official body whose soul existence is to monitor the French language. Quebec, Belgium and Switzerland beg to differ, asserting that by feminizing career titles we are contributing to equality.

And now Sweden has gotten involved introducing the word hen to replace him or her, in the hopes gender differences disappear for good. An idea that would cause a revolution in France!

On the road

IMG_4290I’ve been rather quiet on the blog lately. Please accept my sincere apologies. I have discovered that it is very difficult to just sit down and write all day. The mind grows numb after 5 hours. At least, my mind does. And I have been writing a lot lately because I was recently selected by AFAR magazine to create a guide to Monaco for their website. I was so flattered! They hire real writers, like Susan Orleans, and they were selecting me. I didn’t hesitate in replying with a loud YES! Typing as loudly as one can through the liquid crystal filter of a computer screen.

IMG_4269 P1080192 P1080179Before the writing, I needed to do some researching. I started immediately, reaching out to the tourist office and the Societe des Bains de Mer, the country’s largest employer that seems to be involved in every aspect of Monaco tourism. Days later, I found myself invited to the inauguration of the Pavillons Monte Carlo, a temporary luxury shopping center that was built as a centerpiece of sustainability. Even more incredible than an invitation to write for AFAR, and the opportunity to visit Monaco, I would be attending an event with SAS Prince Albert II. Totally ridiculous, but I was feeling pretty chuffed about the whole thing.

Then I started to panic about hat to wear. Thanks to the discerning eye of Mr French, I have a great wardrobe, but I was going to be hanging with the rich and famous of the world. I called a friend and she invited me to her new company the ELSS Collection, a company that rents the season’s latest designer fashion to women in my situation. Or women who have packed too lightly for the extravagant meal they have reserved in Paris, or women who are just curious what it feels like to wear high fashion on a low budget. This is starting to sound like a plug for her business, but Susan really is a friend and I genuinely had a great time trying on all the fun fashion at ELSS. I even pick up a dress for the big event and another for dinner later. Fun pieces by Kenzo that I would never buy, because they may be out of fashion in a year, but was thrilled to wear for an evening.

Dress ready, I was on my way. I had a busy day In Monaco, visiting insider haunts, exploring local favorites and doing the tourist thing. Suddenly, it was time to dress. In a moment of extreme anti-climax, it took me two minutes and I was ready to go.

IMG_4271The weather was gorgeous.  It had rained the weekend before, it would rain again in 48 hours, but tonight, the weather gods were in total cooperation with Princely desires for this outdoor event. The fountain was bubbling along joyfully with the British brass band, women were handed a whimsical posey as we arrived. I was thrilled to see that I fit right in with the ritzy crowd. I was a lone, but not at all lonely, there was just too much to see, gorging myself on this internationally flavoured eye candy.

The Prince arrived and it was a fun feeling being on the other side of the red rope, tourists clamouring for a photo op. On our side of the rope, blasé regulars were also shooting away, the man next to me raising his sleeve, the secret spy camera on his watch making that “pshut, pshut” sound, just like in the movies. A surreal moment with James Bond’s Casino de Monte Carlo as a back drop.

There were speeches. Mercifully short and to the point, boasting about the 90 species of trees that had been carefully cultivated to fill this commercial space with oxygen, the LED lights that would be beautiful, but also reduce light pollution and energy consumption. This was my kind of crowd after all! The prince cut the floral (compostable!) ribbon and a cloud of butterflies was released into the air. Breath taking.

Champagne corks popped and I was interested to note that the Monegasque were serving Perrier Jouet. Shockingly, I was not drinking, as I had a full schedule of decadent meals for the weekend and was saving myself. I was not the only teetotaler. Many of us were competing the few glasses of water available on each tray and the house had anticipated we’d be there, serving a delicious cocktail of kiwi, green apple and ginger.

As the evening progressed, we were invited to explore the shops that would fill the space over the next four years. Everything we find in Paris; Saint Laurent, Miu Miu, Balenciaga. Some stunning diamonds caught my eye. Not that I am in the market for diamonds, but I had remembered these diamonds from a Cartier show I had seen at the Grand Palais earlier this year. WOW! It is not every day I see a tiara for sale.

Slowly, my feet came back to earth, landing on the soft ground and carrying me happily back to my hotel for a dinner with a view.





Chanel Fashion Week

Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.03.32 PMThere is a charming French film called Fauteuils d’Orchestre, which translates to Orchestra Seats, but came out in English as Avenue Montaigne, which is where all the drama unfolds. Impish Cecile de France, perhaps the best named actress in all of filmdom star in this poetic romcom. The movie begins with Cecile’s grandmother explaining she had to live surrounded by luxury, but as she had no money, she chose to work as the dame de piScreen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.03.05 PMpi, or bathroom monitor at the sumptuous Ritz hotel. I think of Mme Pipi often in my life as a journalist, honored to work in extraordinary circumstances, with a privileged peek into another world.

Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.02.45 PM Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.02.30 PM Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.02.18 PM Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.02.05 PM Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.01.49 PM Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.01.35 PM Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.01.25 PM Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.01.15 PM Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.01.04 PM Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.00.52 PMTuesday was a particularly spectacular day. Even the weather conspired to ensure absolute perfection as I headed out the door to shoot the crowds sauntering into the Grand Palais for the Chanel show. So much eye candy! As I shot, I thought of the grandmother and started to look around at my colleagues, the other photographers. A bunch of dandies if I ever saw a bunch of dandies. And I thought of my friend Joseph the Butler, a true Beau Brummel. It seems to me that many of the people who work for the rich and famous end up being the true trend setters, guiding them is what’s hot and what really shouldn’t be. The fashion paparazzi are dedicated to following la mode across the globe, developing an educated eye and indubitable style. After all it’s easy to look like a million when you have a million, but these men and women make fabulous happen with little more than their own inspirational creativity. So this season, I turned around from the stars and socialites to shoot them, the guys and gals who really have it going on.

Because the day had made its promises, I left the crowd to visit the opening of the Hokusai exhibition next door. Which was so fun, it deserves a post of its own. And next week I’ll tell you about meeting the Prince….

Becoming French… 6

Screen shot 2014-09-29 at 11.11.47 AMMy accent not withstanding, Monsieur Mustache’s assistant brought out a heavy, canvas bound ledger, dated 1934, the year before the grand in law’s had their first child as French citizens. A loopy scrawl had entered each wedding by date, one after the other for the entire year. Using a clear plastic ruler M Mustache scrolled down page after page aft… arrêt! He had found something. Bringing the awkward witness to the counter, he showed me their names. M et Mme In-Law, French citizens married in the 12th arrondissement before the birth of their daughter who would one day become my mother in-law. The family joke just got funniey! The grand in laws had remarried after being naturalized. The grandmother may have been uneducated and illiterate, but she had been wicked smart, understanding the French and the importance of the paper chase.

A birth certificate does not cite the nationality of the parents, but the marriage certificate made it clear that the two parties were French citizens. I was able to take my files and get official Nationality Certificates for my husband and my girls. Armed with these documents and the paperwork for Nantes, I was ready to submit my dossier.

In a great moment of anti-climax, Madame was not there that Wednesday. I left my file with her colleague, a polish professional, who looked over all the documents and accepted them with a nod. Several months later my husband and I ware called in for an interview.

Like many Parisiennes, Madame is much friendly with men than with women and she was perfectly charming throughout the interview, as I sat there, wanting to do a gloating happy dance to the woman who had informed me I’d never be French. But I didn’t dare, knowing the dossier was still in her hands. The interview was a no brainer old marrieds like ourselves, and we were assured we’d receive confirmation by mail in the weeks to come, but before that Madame asked me a questioned I’d never anticipated and would love to have known was coming so I could have prepared my answer in advance.

– Would to like to françasisé your name?

– França-what?

– Take a French name. It is the law, I must offer you a more French sounding name. It may make your life easier.

She leaned across her desk and whispered the most ironically hypocritical understatement I have ever heard – Sometimes, this country can be difficult for immigrants.

Going from Sylvia to Sylvie hardly sounded like a life changer, so I stayed with what my parents had given me, but had I known, I think I’d be signing off right now as Madame Chanel, that’s Coco to you. Or perhaps I’d have gone with Colette. Marie Antoinette has a certain ring to it…

Bitingly good times

Screen shot 2014-09-26 at 10.25.23 AMEarlier thisScreen shot 2014-09-26 at 10.22.44 AM week I posted photo of Roman Polanski in da house on my FB page. The question is, which house? Certainly not mine, I am not any where near cool enough to have a guest list like that. Non, earlier this week I had the honor of being invited back stage for the reScreen shot 2014-09-26 at 10.21.39 AMhearsals of Le Bal des Vampires at the Mogador theater.

Screen shot 2014-09-26 at 10.22.21 AM   Le Bal was originally The Fearless Vampire Killers, a 1967 movie starring, written and directed by Roman. It was while on set for the film he met his future wife, Sharon Tate, who was later slaughtered by Charles Manson. And while tragedy enshrouds the reality, the movie is actually a comic satire of the vampire genre.

The film took the Vienna stage in 1997 and has just completed a 10 year tour in Germany. When it was announced that the sets were being packed up and 18 semi trucks would be taking the autobahn for France, M Polanski announced that he would be doing the directing for the Paris stage.

His dubious history not with standing, M Polanski is an impressive man, energy whirling through his body and the space around him. The French journalists were mesmerised by his presence, hounding him for photos like tweens in a room with One Direction.

After the introductions, we were taken to a series of studios. First we meet the makeup artist and her crew, busy trimming, curling, coiffing and baking real hair wigs for the show. I was amazed they were able to get such long hair that wasn’t synthetic to work with. She pointed out that humans aren’t the only beings who grow hair. Horse manes will do! And the teeth, oh, the teeth. Some actors have up to three sets of fangs, depending on their roles.And while the main actors will have assistance applying their make-up, the chorus will have become experts at drawing blood.

Screen shot 2014-09-26 at 10.24.00 AMWe met the stage director who explained that this was the most intricate production ever performed in France, with 22 tons of equipment filling every available nook and cranny, the writer who adapted the lyrics into French (I so want his job for French shows!), and the costume handlers.

Then, we were taken to the bar. Yipee, drinks! But no, there was something more going on, for lack of space, the theater bar area has been converted into a rehearsal space for the dancers. As we entered, the original NY choreographer, John Carrafa, was ruling a mob of vampires rising from their chair-slash-Screen shot 2014-09-26 at 10.23.32 AMtombstones, their voices vibrating through our being, their sharp teeth surprising us in the modern context. The actors rehearse with their teeth, so they can learn to sing without slurring, or drooling anything other than blood. They also work 6 days a week, with rehearsals running to 11pm, acclimating their bodies to show time! It was an extraordinary ten minutes, listening to the song written by Michael Kunze of Phantom fame. His signature gothic sound familiar, yet new.

Screen shot 2014-09-26 at 10.21.12 AMWe were soon dragged out, our guide threatening us with garlic if we didn’t hurry. It was into an elevator, past a voice room, beyond a gym, and into a large, neon lit room. Before us, an awkward pile of pipes and planks, a bathtub, a piano and actors going through their lines as Roman Polanski looked intently on. What a privilege to watch the man at work. Every detail being vamped and re-vamped, with minute precision.

If you’d like to see this spooktacular production, it will be going un-live at the Theater Mogador Oct 16. Just in time for Halloween!

For more images from the visit, check out my FB page.



Still trying to become French… 5

Screen shot 2014-09-25 at 12.08.30 PM

No more tears for me, I left Madame’s office more determined than ever to prove her wrong. But how? I did some research. Naturalization is registered with the Journal Officiel. I made inquiries, to no avail. I couldn’t find anyone who could help me find what I needed.

My mother-in-law was confused and absolutely certain she’d never been naturalized. She’d been born a French citizen. Over Easter holidays, 6 months into the process, we visited her in Montreal, where he organized a lunch with her brother, hoping he could help us out. A small get together for paperwork turned into a family reunion, the French cousins meeting their Quebecois cousins, the sound of young kids laughing hysterically at one another’s accent rang through out the small airplane hangar where we had gathered. The uncle had flown in that morning with fresh lobster from Maine, we feasted over red and white checked table clothes, a wing of his Cessna 150 above our heads. The wine flowed freely. It was like being on a Soprano’s set.

After lunch, things turned serious as he showed me the little paper work he had found on his parents. There was nothing on the dates they had been naturalized. But, perhaps thanks to the wine, he shared a family joke. As kids, they had always teased the older siblings for being bastards because the parents had married in Paris after having immigrated from Turkey with the older siblings. The thought was hysterical to this troupe of modern Parisians living with their old world parents. Illicit love? Maman et papa? LOL!

But what if it wasn’t a joke? We had the marriage certificate from Turkey, so we knew they had married before immigrating to France, but a few years ago my husband and I had remarried with Elvis in the Little White Chapel in Vegas. Could it be a family tradition? Is it possible the parents had remarried in France?

Back to Paris, back to the Mairie of each of the three arrondissements where the had lived, 5 year old Em by my side because it was a Wednesday and there was no school in France on Wednesday. That is because after The Church struck a deal with the Government after the Revolution. They were ok with the idea of public school, as long as kids had time to go to religious school one day a week. Wednesdays worked for the church and the country developed a habit. By the time my girls were old enough to go to school, no one was sending their kids to religious school, but teachers had grown accustomed to having their day off, and parents were stuck providing entertainment. Em spent a year of Wednesdays hunting paperwork with me.

There was nothing in the 19th, or 11th. I had no choice, but to head to the 12th. I hoped that the grump took his Wednesdays off, as many parents do, but I had no such luck and was soon facing Monsieur and his mustache. He was as horrible as always but he remembered me and was afraid I’d slip into another tantrum, so after a 10 minute lecture, he went off to search from the documents he assured me did not exist. I sat back down on the bench, next to Em, waiting to see if luck would strike twice.

M Mustache assigned the search to an intern and turned to help the next woman in line, a very proper Parisienne.

– Listen, Mommy! He’s being mean to her, too! He’s mean to everyone. He’s mean to everyone! It’s because of your embarrassing accent…

Yes, but does the document exist?

Heritage days

Screen shot 2014-09-23 at 10.23.26 AM  France uses the last days of summer to open her doors and invite the world inside for quick peek behind the scenes. It is a national campaign, with chateaux and public buildings across the nation open to the general public for the weekend. Lines start in the early hours for places like the Elysée, presidential palace and the Prime Minister’s home at Matiginon. In years past we have seen the mineral collection at the prestigious Ecole des Mines engineering school, the carnival museum, the green houses of the Luxembourg Gardens with their orchid collection for the senate, and the Screen shot 2014-09-23 at 10.23.53 AMObservatory nearby. Last year, we stopped by the Manufacture de Sèvres.

Screen shot 2014-09-23 at 10.23.40 AMThis year, I was not in the mood to stand in lines and deal with crowds, so we just went for a stroll. It would seem the universe had other plans for us, and along our walk we passed the fine arts college, Ecole des Beaux Arts. The school was open to visitors and I was very curious to see inside, because the school has been getting a lot of press lately.

It is a beautiful space, evoking an abandoned Italian palazzo of fading ochres and falling plaster with patina all around. The chapel has been stuffed full of statuary. Renaissance horsemen face off medieval tombstones, Micheal Angelo’s Virgin is not far from a Roman god. The works are all plaster replicas of masterpieces, set out for the students to study, draw, photography.

Screen shot 2014-09-23 at 10.15.47 AMIn the auditorium there is a large mural of the masters. da Vinci chats away with Reubens, Van Dyke shares a laugh besides Fra Angelico, all of them looking down at the students below, sitting on stiff wooden benches, listening to a lecture as the butts go numb.

Screen shot 2014-09-23 at 10.15.28 AMThere is a covered courtyard, flooded with light, where students can work in the sun, protected from the elements, and a smaller, arcaded courtyard that leads to the chapel. A memorial to students who died fighting for France in the First World War dominates the space, a large chestnut tree reigning from above, nature faces tragedy in absolute beauty and our day has been enriched.

All this glorious history comes with a price. The price of upkeep and renovation. The school desperately needs to be brought into the age of modernity, a little wifi here, perhaps a sound system there. Which is why it has been in the news. Ralph Lauren visited the space and was smitten. He has agreed to wire the school, renovate the chapel and ensure a classical, yet sustainable art education of generations to come.

More on that French thing… 4

Screen shot 2014-09-22 at 9.54.00 AM

Victory? I had at last found all the papers required on the infamous list written by a certain Madame’s blue fountain pen. I had waited to have all the French papers before getting my US paper work in order, because I knew the American system and its efficiency. I requested marriage licenses and birth certificates for my parents, myself and my children. Everything arrived promptly, then was immediately returned to the State of California to be apostilléd. The process took 7 weeks. In five weeks, I’d have to start all over again.

There is a list of certified translators posted on a larger poster at the Tribunal d’Instance. I dreaded running into Madame, but there was no time to waste. I took down the list of those approved for English to French and started calling before heading home. One translator had quit. Most would need 1 – 3 months just to get to my dossier, a few were exorbitantly expensive. I finally found M SALIN on the rue de Las Cases, in the 7th arrondissement who would translate my documents for a fair price in a timely manner. I went to his office to deliver the papers. It was a wood encased study. A place Sherlock Holmes would have felt at easy, motes of dust dancing in the mid-winter sunlight, a globe, stacks of books spilling over. I was worried my papers would be lost in the mess,but he assured me that all would be well. And it was.

I arranged everything in French plastic sleeves. A sleeve for me, for my husband, one each for our parents, two more for,our girls and I headed triumphantly to the Tribunal d’Instance to file my request for citizenship.

Madame was there with her scowl and fountain pen. I started handing her the documents one by one, as she checked them from the list. When French citizens marry, they are given a Livret de Famille. A family notebook, where everything is recorded. The spouses’ two birth certificates, their marriage license, all the birth certificates of their children. I handed her our Livret de Famille, then the birth certificates and marriage licenses I had spent so much money ordering, apostillé-ing and translating. She took my documents, crumpled them in to a ball shrugging,

— Beh, these, we don’t need. They are already in the Livret.

— But, but, bu…. you told me I had to have these documents from California, and they needed to be apostilléd.

— Oui, but I did not believe you had a Livret. I did not think you had taken care of your papers.

— You knew I had taken care of my papers! You told me to go to Nantes for the copies!

She shrugged, 1000€ in paper work and hours on my time dismissed. A huge grin broke out on her surly face,

— Madame, you can not prove your husband is French.

— Yes, yes, her birth certificate is here. She was born in Paris. She’s French.

— It is not enough to be born in Paris. Look, her parents were born in Turkey. She is not French.

— They were naturalized citizens. They were not born in France, but they were French.

— If they were naturalized citizens, she too had to be naturalized. I need her naturalization papers. I have told you. You will never be French. (Je vous avais dit, vous ne seriez jamais française.)

We’ll see about that…

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...