Monday, June 2, 2014

French Girl returns and makes a few changes

Note to my readers:  This post is bilingual.  Scroll down for the French version.
Note à mes lecteurs: Ce billet est bilingue. La version française suit la version anglaise.

I am back.

It has been over three months since I wrote my last story on the blog. 

I have thought about returning often. The more I waited, the harder it became. Did I have to comment on my absence? After all, so much had happened over the last eighteen months, but I had been able to keep writing, however infrequently. Then, at the beginning of the year, life caught up with me. I just could not invest the time it takes to write a well-crafted story anymore. So I stopped writing, or reading other blogs, and I missed it. 

For those of you who stayed in touch on the blog's Facebook page, French Girl in Seattle, thank you. For those of you who sent me private messages to ask if I was ok, thank you, too. 

I am ok. To sum up the last eighteen months: 

I will make a long story [fairly] short. 

This past year saw the ending of a 23-year relationship, friendship, and marriage. Not an unusual story. Cue in anger, frustration, blame, irrational behavior. Cue in bad faith, inelegance, and sordid financial negotiations. A roller coaster ride. 

The main victim: An incredible, smart, yet challenging and often hormonal teenage boy, who never asked for any of this. 

Our new normal started almost eighteen months ago. Junior is doing fine. I am doing fine. We have created a new life, as a team, and have been preparing for our new home, an apartment a few minutes away from our old neighborhood. The fourteen-year old gets to keep his school and his friends, as he requested when we gave him the bad news last year. I dreamed of moving on, but will have to wait a while. That was the right thing to do. For now, this is the plan. New life. New furniture. New chapter in a brand-new book.

Through it all, I kept blogging. Pure escapism for me. The blog felt like an old friend, who stuck with me through the difficult and unhappy years. The recognition and friendship I received made me feel good about myself. Alas, at the beginning of the year, I had to start working on the house to get it ready for the market. A logistical nightmare that took over my life... and my brain.

This French Girl is a determined, organized, and resilient woman. Her project management skills from a previous life kicked in. I did it alone, with occasional help from Junior and one of his friends (So heartwarming to see skilled and chivalrous teenage boys rally up when a woman is in trouble!) I cleaned a three-thousand square foot home; sorted; emptied an attic; hired contractors; supervised work; donated things; sold things; dumped years' worth of things, for days, weeks, and even weekends. The house sold in two days. Mission accomplished, French Girl

Today, as Junior and I prepare to lock up the family home's door for the last time, and move into our new environment, I would just like to focus on the good, the positive, the achievements; and start making plans for the future. I would just like to pat myself on the back, and acknowledge a few people (Don't worry: No Academy Awards' worthy speeches here.) 

The late Maya Angelou once said: "Try to be a rainbow in someone else's cloud.

I would like to thank all my friends, for being my personal rainbows over the last eighteen months. I have written about you often on the blog.  You know who you are. It takes a village, and mine is a pretty great one!

My incredible Mediterranean family, who managed, eight thousand miles away, with a nine-hour time difference, to comfort me and cheer me on. Never underestimate the power of a phone call, or a care package, bringing French movies, a bag of Fraises Tagada, and the latest issue of the French Elle

My parents and Junior (2) in Spain...
French Girl, 10, her brother, 9, and their first cat.
(Lambersart, Northern France)

Finally, I always look at the women in my family for strength and inspiration. Some have gone through a lot worse than a puny divorce.

Henriette and her clan, somewhere in Southern France.
(We miss you, Chantal !) 

Looking ahead, one thing is obvious: I am going to enjoy being single for a while.


I am fifty-one years old, and I have to start a new career, and a new life. This is both daunting and exciting. I can choose where I want to go. I fought hard to earn the financial freedom to start making my own decisions once again. 

When I was not busy raising a teenager; teaching; or working on the house, I found the time to apply for a graduate teacher training program at Seattle Pacific University, a four-month process. By March, the school offered me to join their one-year intensive internship program. I investigated job opportunities for French language teachers; took a closer look at the cost of the program; and decided to turn them down. After fifteen years working as a freelance French teacher in the Seattle area, I am moving on.

My new path is the travel industry, a field I got to know with American Express France (This French Girl feels passionately about travel, as my readers know.) This fall, I will be returning to school to prepare a one-year certification for travel professionals. Where I will go from there is still open for debate. I am planning to offer my popular France travel workshops online soon. There will be a new website, maybe even a new blog; and I would not mind competing with Rick Steves with my own, private customized tours to la Belle France one day soon. 

First, let's get this show on the road, and move into our new digs. Then, time for fun and travel... in Europe, bien sûr. How I have longed for that summer trip!

It is time to wrap up, in more ways than one. This French Girl is looking ahead, seriously, with intent, like the young girl she once was. 

French Girl (2,) her young brother, and Mom
Southwestern France

To quote the great Maya Angelou, once again:

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; 
and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style."

Or, as my girlfriends put it in my last birthday card:

Attitude is everything!

I could not agree more...

"French Girl: Northwest Style with Chanel make-up"
(at a Divo concert)

Thank you for reading. A bientôt. And this time, I really mean it!

All private photos belong to French Girl in Seattle.
Do not use, or Pin without permission.
Thank you.

Version française

Me revoilà.

Cela fait trois mois que j'ai écrit mon dernier billet sur le blog.

J'ai pensé revenir souvent. Plus le temps passait, plus c'est devenu difficile. Fallait-il que j'explique mon absence ? Après tout, tant de choses sont arrivées depuis dix-huit mois, mais j'avais continué à écrire, même de temps en temps. Au début de l'année, je n'ai plus réussi à investir le temps nécessaire à la préparation d'un bon billet. Alors j'ai arrêté d'écrire, ou de lire d'autres blogs, et ça m'a manqué.

Pour ceux d'entre vous qui sont restés en contact sur la page Facebook du blog, French Girl in Seattle, merci. Pour ceux qui ont pris des nouvelles dans des messages privés, merci aussi.

Je vais bien. Pour résumer les derniers dix-huit mois:

Célibataire !

Je viens raconter ici dans les grandes lignes une histoire un peu longue.

L'année qui vient de s'écouler a marqué la fin d'une relation de 23 ans, d'une amitié et d'un mariage. Ce n'est pas une histoire inhabituelle. Envoyez la colère, la frustration, le blâme, et les comportements irrationnels. Envoyez la mauvaise foi, l'inélégance, et les sordides négociations financières. Un vrai tourbillon !

La principale victime: un ado incroyable, intelligent, mais difficile parfois, et hormonal,  souvent, qui n'avait rien demandé.

Notre nouvelle norme a commencé il y a dix-huit mois. Junior va bien. Je vais bien. Nous avons créé une nouvelle vie, une équipe, et sommes en train de nous préparer pour notre nouvelle maison, un appartement à quelques minutes à peine de notre ancien quartier. L'ado gardera son école et ses amis, comme il nous l'a demandé en apprenant la mauvaise nouvelle l'an dernier. Moi, je rêvais de changer de décor, mais il faudra que j'attende encore un peu. C'était la seule chose à faire. Pour le moment, voilà le plan. Nouvelle vie. Nouveaux meubles. Nouveau chapitre dans un livre tout neuf. 

A travers tout ça, j'ai continué à écrire sur le blog. Une bonne façon de m'évader. Le blog, c'est comme un vieux copain, qui m'a aidé pendant les années difficiles. La reconnaissance et les amis qu'il m'a apportés, me faisaient du bien au moral et à l'égo. Hélas, au début de l'année, j'ai du commencé à préparer la maison avant de la mettre en vente. Un cauchemar logistique qui envahi ma vie... et ma tête. 

Cette French Girl est déterminée, organisée, et solide. Les compétences en gestion de projet, acquises dans une ancienne vie, sont toujours là. J'ai tout fait seule, avec l'aide occasionnelle de Junior et d'un de ses amis. (C'est si rassurant de voir des jeunes compétents et chevaleresques voler au secours d'une femme en difficulté !) J'ai nettoyé une maison de 280 mètres carrés; trié; vidé un grenier; engagé des artisans; supervisé leur travail; fait des dons à des organisations locales; vendu; jeté des kilos d'objets, pendant des jours, des semaines et même des weekends entiers. La maison s'est vendue en deux jours. Mission accomplie, French Girl !

Aujourd'hui, tandis que Junior et moi nous préparons à fermer la porte de la maison de famille pour la dernière fois, et à emménager dans notre nouveau cadre, je veux voir le côté positif des choses, les réussites, et commencer à faire des projets d'avenir. Je voudrais aussi me donner une accolade et remercier quelques personnes (Ne vous inquiétez pas: Il n'y aura pas de discours à rallonge comme aux Césars.) 

La regrettée Maya Angelou a dit: "Essaie d'être l'arc-en-ciel dans le nuage noir de quelqu'un.

Merci à tous mes amis, d'avoir été mes arc-en-ciel personnels pendant les dix-huit derniers mois. J'ai souvent parlé de vous sur le blog. Vous savez qui vous êtes. C'est vrai "qu'il faut tout un village," et le mien n'est pas mal du tout. 

Merci à mon incroyable famille méditerranéenne, qui a réussi, à plus de 10.000 kilomètres de distance, avec neuf heures de décalage horaire, à me réconforter et à m'encourager. Ne sous-estimez jamais le pouvoir d'un coup de téléphone, ou d'un paquet qui renferme des films français, un sac de Fraises Tagada, ou le dernier numéro de Elle

My parents and Junior, 2 ans, in Spain

French Girl, 10 ans, son frère, 9 ans, et leur premier chat
(Lambersart, nord de la France)

Pour finir, je suis toujours réconfortée et inspirée par l'exemple des femmes de ma famille. Certaines on traversé bien pire qu'un tout petit divorce.

Henriette et "son clan" quelque part dans le Sud-Ouest
(Tu nous manques, Chantal !) 

Alors que je me tourne vers l'avenir, une chose est sûre: Je vais apprécier d'être  à nouveau célibataire. 

"C'était super,  mais je pense que
je vais recommencer à faire exactement ce dont j'ai envie."

J'ai cinquante-et-un ans, et je démarre une nouvelle carrière, et une nouvelle vie. C'est à la fois intimidant et excitant. Je peux choisir mon chemin. J'ai bataillé dur pour obtenir la liberté financière de recommencer à prendre mes propres décisions.

Quand je n'étais pas occupée à élever un ado, à enseigner, ou à travailler sur la maison, j'ai trouvé le temps de préparer un dossier de candidature à un Master de formation des professeurs, proposé par Seattle Pacific University, un processus de quatre mois.  En mars dernier, ils ont accepté ma candidature. J'ai fait des recherches sur les opportunités d'emploi pour les professeurs de français. J'ai regardé de près le coût du programme, pour finalement refuser la place qui m'était offerte. Après quinze ans passés à enseigner le français en freelance, je change de voie.

Mon avenir est dans l'industrie du tourisme, que j'ai côtoyée chez American Express France (cette French Girl est passionnée par les voyages, comme le savent tous mes lecteurs.) A l'automne, je retourne en classe pour préparer une certification professionnelle d'un an dans le tourisme. Où j'irai ensuite, reste à définir. J'ai l'intention de proposer en ligne mes séminaires de voyage en France. Il y aura un nouveau site Internet, peut-être même un nouveau blog. Et il ne me déplairait pas de faire de la concurrence à Rick Steves (NDLR: spécialiste américain des voyages en Europe) avec mes propres voyages organisés dans quelque temps. 

Mais d'abord, en piste. Emménageons chez nous. Ensuite, prenons un peu de temps pour nous amuser et voyager... en Europe, bien sûr. Comme je les ai attendues, ces vacances d'été !

C'est le moment de boucler, et sur tous les plans. Cette French Girl regarde vers l'avenir, sérieusement, concentrée, comme la petite fille qu'elle était jadis.

Une French Girl, 2 ans, son frère, et sa maman
(quelque part dans le Sud-Ouest)

Pour citer à nouveau la grande Maya Angelou:

"Ma mission dans la vie, n'est pas que de survivre, mais de prospérer: 
et de le faire avec de la passion, de la compassion, de l'humour et du style."

Ou, comme mes amies me l'ont écrit dans ma carte d'anniversaire:

"Tout est une question d'attitude !"

Je suis entièrement d'accord.

"Une French Girl: Style Grand-Ouest américain, avec maquillage Chanel."

Merci de m'avoir lue aujourd'hui. A bientôt (et cette fois, c'est sûr !)


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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A quick Bonjour and a Giveaway...

Bonjour les amis, 

I have missed you, faithful readers. Thank goodness, many of you are now following French Girl in Seattle on Facebook, where I steal a few minutes each day to post news, photos and observations about la Belle France. I must say I have a lot of fun there, with 820+ francophile friends. Please join us when you can.

This week, we covered French president Hollande's trip to Washington DC. There were a few [unintended] comical moments...

Tall American woman meets short French guy, with tall American guy *supervising*

It was difficult to know what serious topics, if any, the American and the French presidents covered during their meetings. It seems they spent a lot of time exchanging jokes; or pretending they can speak each other's language (they can't.) That is, at least,  what the presidents (the tall one, the short one,) and the media decided to show us.

It does not matter anyway, because it seems that everyone was mostly interested in answering two questions: 

1. What was Michelle Obama going to wear during the event (She passed with flying colors, thanks to designer Caroline Herrera.)  

2. Who was going to sit next to President Hollande who - the horror! - was traveling solo, during the official state dinner. 

Talk show host John Stewart is not in American History books yet, but he should be. He offered an excellent take on the media circus surrounding the French prez' visit to Washington D.C. -- John, you crack me up. You are everything that is good, smart and sane, in today's media. 

Watch the clip here. You won't regret it! (and yes, it is worth putting up with that obnoxious commercial at the beginning.)

But I digress.

The reason I came back here for a short visit has nothing to do with Washington D.C., President Hollande, or Michelle's wardrobe. 

I received a special invitation this week, you see. You may remember I acted as a critic during the 2013 Seattle International Film Festival... As a result of the movie reviews I wrote last spring, and the constant cinematic references in my blog posts, the word is out:  French Girl in Seattle loves movies!

A few days ago, I was contacted by the Seattle Jewish Film Festival

They offered me free tickets to see two new French movies! I would love to watch and review them on the blog, but I have another commitment on March 2. Hint: This has to do with the 86th Academy Awards (movies, always movies...) 

My loss. Your gain. 

We are having a Giveaway chez French Girl in Seattle this week. If you live in the Seattle area, and are interested in seeing one of these shows, leave a comment here, or on the blog's Facebook page. Bonne chance!

Here is our selection:

  • The Jewish Cardinal (Le Métis de Dieu,) by Duran Cohen; the real-life story of Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger. The movie has raked multiple Awards at independent film festivals over the world. Read an excellent review and watch the trailer here.
Sunday March 2, 2014
AMC Pacific Place, Seattle, WA.
Time: 5:00pm
Two free tickets.

  • Friends from France (Les Interdits,) by Anne Weil and Philippe Kotlarski; two French cousins cross the Iron Curtain and travel to Russia in the 1980s to support Jewish dissidents. Road movie? Love story? Political film? See it to find out. Read a review here

Sunday March 2, 2014
AMC Pacific Place, Seattle, WA.
Time: 8:30pm
Two free tickets.

Send a message if you are interested. Until next time, thank you for reading. 

A bientôt.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

We miss you, l'Abbé Pierre...


I had a fun little story to tell today... It involved the French, the Americans, and swear words. 

As I was about to start writing it, I bumped into a photo taken by blogger Eric Tenin. Eric had decided to honor one of the most popular men who ever lived in France. That man was not a monarch; a president; or even a celebrity; quite the opposite in fact. He was a priest, and a sickly man, who doggedly led a lifelong struggle to help others. Seven years after his death, he remains one of my countrymen's favorite public figures. His is an incredible story. A story of courage, determination, controversy and deep humanity. It is the story of l'Abbé Pierre

Sixty years ago, on February 1, 1954, l'Abbé Pierre famously called for solidarity on Radio Luxembourg, as poor, homeless French people were dying in the streets during a particularly harsh winter. Sixty years later, homelessness and a shortage of safe, affordable housing, are still concerns in France, and in many industrialized nations.

This week, I have decided to publish again the tribute I wrote in December 2011. I hope you enjoy it. 

L'Abbé Pierre: the Reluctant French Icon
December 2011

Today, I would like to tell you the story of a man who embodied Giving. France knows him as "l'Abbé Pierre." His face (the grey hair and beard, the big glasses, the béret,) and silhouette (the long, black cape, the heavy shoes, the cane,) are so familiar to my countrymen that a picture of l'Abbé Pierre hardly needs a caption. During his long life, he remained one of France's most unlikely, and yet most beloved public figures, topping popularity polls year after year, until his death, in January 2007.

La Fresque des Lyonnais (the famous Lyonnais fresco)
 Lyon,  France

L'Abbé Pierre (1912-2007) was born Henri Marie Joseph Grouès, in Lyon, to a well-heeled bourgeois family of eight children. His father had a strong social conscience and introduced Henri to charity work at a very young age. A devout catholic, Henri was determined to become a missionary. He attended a Jesuit school, and later renounced his inheritance to join a Franciscan monastery. He was ordained priest in 1938. Strict monastic life did not agree with him (he was plagued with health issues,) and he eventually left the monastery.

World War II broke out in 1939. He was mobilized as an N.C.O. (Non Commissioned Officer) but contracted pleurisy while training in Alsace. When France fell in 1940, he became vicar of the Grenoble cathedral. Throughout the war, he would take enormous risks to help others; enabling Jews and other politically persecuted to escape to Switzerland; joining the French Résistance where he operated under several code names including the now-famous "Abbé Pierre;" founding a clandestine newspaper; stealing clothing from warehouses for the poor and the Résistance. He was arrested in 1944 but managed to escape and joined General de Gaulle and the Free French Forces in Algiers. He continued fighting and received top French military honors at the end of the war.

A young Abbé Pierre listens to a speech by General de Gaulle in 1946

The war experience would mark him for life: From then on, he engaged himself to protect fundamental human rights and to fight for the causes he believed in. If legal means were not an option, then civil disobedience was all right too. 

He also knew how to use his reputation and growing fame, and his connections to politicians to further his cause, lecturing the formidable General de Gaulle, in January 1945 on the need for milk to feed babies.

Impatient, stubborn, unruly and outspoken, l'Abbé Pierre was soon to become a major influence in French society, an indefatigable fighter who led a life-long crusade against poverty and homelessness. His tactical weapons: Prayer, provocation, charity work and political action. 

After the war, L'Abbé Pierre was convinced to join the French Parliament where he worked as a député (representative,) from 1945 to 1951, but he quickly understood that he would be most efficient fighting misery in the street.

In 1949, using his lawmaker's indemnities after he had left the Parliament, he started a community outside of Paris to help the neediest members of society. He named the center "Emmaus," a town mentioned in the Gospel. His early companions were a motley crew of down-on-their-luck individuals. With them, he came up with the idea of a working community; organizing rag-picking and recycling of household goods to finance the construction of shelters for the homeless, often without construction permits. This was a far cry from traditional charity, as it encouraged the poor to fend for themselves. To those who had nothing, he brought not merely relief, but also purpose and hope. When money ran out, l'Abbé Pierre did not hesitate to take part in a TV game show to raise funds. Celebrities like Charlie Chaplin started supporting the movement as Emmaus grew steadily, first in France (where it is today one the largest NGOs,) then internationally after 1971 with the creation of Emmaus International.

"People are needed to take up the challenge, strong people, who proclaim the truth, throw it in people's faces, 
and do what they can with their own two hands."
-- L'Abbé Pierre.

1954: Laying the first stone of a new Emmaus-sponsored shelter
L'Abbé Pierre and the first Emmaus companions

But it is during the exceptionally cold winter of 1954 that L'Abbé Pierre became a living legend. An indignant Abbé issued a radio appeal on behalf of 5 million homeless people after a baby froze to death, and after a woman died on a Paris boulevard clutching her eviction notice in her frozen hand. In his famous speech, he challenged the French to heed their moral duty. The opening words caught everyone's attention: "My friends, come help... A woman froze to death tonight at 3:00am..." The French - no doubt remembering the privations endured during the war - listened, and donations poured in: Money, blankets, clothing, even jewelry and fur coats! My mother-in-law, a young girl at the time, remembers listening to the radio address with her family and walking down to the nearest temporary shelter with clothing and blankets. 

Throughout his life, l'Abbé Pierre used the power of the media
 to further his cause

The following morning, the press wrote of an "uprising of kindness" (insurrection de la bonté.) Over the next few weeks, donations were sorted out and distributed all over France, often through the emerging network of Emmaus communities where the homeless were given food and shelter. Emmaus volunteers were former homeless people who had learned to depend for survival on their own efforts, reselling refurbished furniture, books and scraps. L'Abbé Pierre was everywhere, delivering rousing speeches; visiting politicians to push for new legislation to forbid landlords from evicting tenants during winter months; holding the hands of women and children while visiting shelters. As a result of his tireless campaigning, the French government finally undertook a large program of housing reconstruction. 

Leaving the Elysée Palace after meeting with the French President (1954)

Years went by. L'Abbé Pierre did not slow down, always prompt to denounce injustice, not only in France but in the rest of the world where he was often seen with international leaders. Even when he turned down the Legion of Honor and other prestigious awards to protest the lack of official efforts towards the poor, he also understood the need to rub shoulders with politicians to get results. 

Always frank and often controversial, he wrote books about various topics, publicly disagreeing with Pope John Paul II on the issues of priest celibacy, the union of gay couples, the use of contraception, or the ordination of women as priests. 

There was controversy. There was media lynching when l'Abbé made unpopular choices, but the French public [a notoriously tough crowd] remained faithful to him. Then came old age, and failing health, and l'Abbé progressively retired out of the public eye. But there was always one more injustice, one more cause worth fighting for. So he would call the media; meet with officials; show up at the French Parliament, where the frail man would speak up from his wheelchair, his voice weak, but his commitment undiminished. At the end of his life, he accepted a few honors -reluctantly- and respectful crowds came to see him.

Finally accepting the prestigious Legion of Honor
awarded by President Chirac in 2001
L'Abbé Pierre meets l'Abbé Pierre in 2005

It was finally time for the man President Chirac called: "A great figure, a conscience, an incarnation of goodness," to take his final bow. He died after a long illness, at the age of 94. Statesmen, celebrities, companions of Emmaus and the French public attended his funeral celebrated at Notre-Dame cathedral, on January 26, 2007. L'Abbé's companions were placed at the front of the congregation, according to his last wishes. His iconic béret, cape and cane lay on top of the coffin during the funeral service.

A big funeral for a man who aspired to a simple, monastic life

Henri Grouès - l'Abbé Pierre - rests in a small cemetery in Esteville, a small village north of Rouen, in Normandy. At peace at last, (one would hope,) he is in good company, surrounded by several of his early companions and friends. At his request, his grave is anonymous, but it is easy to find, thanks to all the flowers left by visitors. 

L'Abbé Pierre (1912-2007): French patriot, human being. Led a life of action and service and knew a thing or two about giving.  

Adieu, l'Abbé. On t'aimait bien.
So long, l'Abbé. We liked you.
A bientôt.


To learn more about l'Abbé Pierre's inspiring life, watch this excellent documentary (2 video clips, about 18 minutes.) It is utterly frustrating, however, as the second part stops around 1949 when Emmaus, the organization founded by l'Abbe Pierre, was taking off. Still, a great look at his early years and his rise to fame.

You may also rent the 1989 movie "Hiver 1954: L'Abbé Pierre" ["Winter 1954: L'Abbé Pierre"] with Lambert Wilson. 

Finally, a full English translation of the 1954 speech can be found here  

Sunday, January 26, 2014

23 Things that scare Parisians to death

This week, a funny list has been making the rounds online, and as luck would have it, it was in French. Dommage

I wanted my readers to be able to enjoy it too, so I have prepared a free translation. You're welcome!

The article is titled: "23 Things that Scare Parisians.Do not miss the original story, here: The illustrations are excellent.

Several remarks come to mind when I look at the list. 

  • Things have not changed that much in Paris since I left, in 1996. 

  • Le Parisien, (the Parisian,) is defined as a person living in "Paris intra-muros," i.e. in downtown Paris, within the border created by le périphérique, (the beltway.) You may live right outside le périphérique. If you do, you are not a true Parisian. You have become un banlieusard, (a commuter, living in suburbia,) and that, to a true Parisian, is only slightly better, than being un provincial (someone living outside the French capital.) 

Paris Intra-Muros (in dark blue on the map,) includes
two parks: Le Bois de Boulogne, and le Bois de Vincennes

  • A large part of Parisian life revolves around the [excellent] public transportation system and le Métro (the subway.) 

... but les Abbesses métro station is nowhere near le Châtelet stop!

Are you ready? Here is my best attempt at a translation... 

23 Things that Scare Parisians
(In Paris, you risk your life every day)

French article with h.i.l.a.r.i.o.u.s. illustrations

1. Falling down the Metro stairs and dying.

2. Cell phone theft.

3. A strike in the Paris transportation system.

4. Having to act as a tour guide for tourist friends and splitting your day between the Eiffel Tower and Mona Lisa.

5. Getting stuck in a street demonstration.

6. La Bastille square, after a street demonstration (Ed.: Most mass demonstrations end up there, a lively yet horrendous sight.) 

7. Les Grands Boulevards, on a Saturday before Christmas, or during the bi-annual sale season (Ed.: Major Parisian department stores are located near les Grands Boulevards, in the Opéra Garnier neighborhood.) 

8. La rue de Lappe, every evening (Ed.: A small, cobbled street in la Bastille neighborhood, well-known for its nightlife.) 

9. Getting stuck in the subway between two stops for over two minutes with no explanation, and imagining your own painful and inevitable demise. 

10. Walking alone at night in a deserted subway corridor... and disappearing.

11. To be reduced to using one of these one day (Ed.: Photo of a Sanisette, a self-contained, self-cleaning, unisex public toilet in a Paris street.) 

12. Transferring from les Halles métro station to le Châtelet RER stop (Ed.: A logistical nightmare, as these are two of Paris' busiest stations, with mile-long corridors.) 

13. Having the irrepressible urge to use the bathroom while being in the subway.

14. Pigeons inside train stations.

15. Actually, any contact with a pigeon.

16. Having to go to a party on the other bank. 

17. Missing the last subway.

18. ... and having to ride the Noctilien (Ed.: Night bus service for Paris and the suburbs.) 

19. Rats and other disgusting creatures living inside the subway system.

20. Having to ride the RER train (Ed.: Faster, but more intimidating than the Métro, with mile-long corridors.) 

21. Crossing the beltway and heading for the unknown... (Ed.: See my introductory comment about "true Parisians.") 

22. Being pushed on the subway tracks by a lunatic.

23. Paris real estate prices! (Ed.: Photo of a 97 square-foot studio, with a $600 rent.) 

What did you think? Did you like it? I bet New Yorkers could relate to some of these, don't you?

It is time to wrap up, but before I go, I just want to appeal to your better nature. You see, living in Paris involves a lot more than sitting at a café terrace and watching the world go by; nibbling Pierre Hermé macarons; getting Americanized chez McDo or at trendy food trucks. Living in Paris can be stressful. Danger lurks, whether real or imagined. There is no time to smile; or smell the Sanisette... uh... the roses. Living in Paris is serious business, and only true Parisians can put up with that much pressure. The rest of us... amateurs. We can only hope to watch and learn.

A bientôt.