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NewsletterDecember 2015

Paris is Still Paris

Fear is a feeling difficult to put into words, but easily understood when felt.
Just before going to sleep on Friday, November 13th, I saw a newsflash pop up on my iPad. Something about attacks in Paris. I didn't want to believe France, my home for the last 15 years, might be going through another wave of terrorist attacks, like those that took place in January. Boy was I wrong. The attacks were worst than in January.
The next day, just after waking up I discovered how bad the events were: a friend in the US messaged me asking how I was? I live very far from Paris in the French Alps. So to me, this signaled how bad the situation was. Turning on the TV, I realized the devastation: 130 people dead, and hundreds injured. As of this writing many are still hospitalized.
If anything good came out of the attacks it was surely how the French (and the world) pulled together. Like in January, the worst brings out the best. Like at Wembley Stadium, the heart of English football, decked out in the colors of France before a football (soccer) match, the crowd singing La Marseillaise. As though 1000 years of animosity (and often war), was erased. That's exactly what occurred on November 17th a few days after the attacks in Paris.
It was also heartwarming to hear La Marseillaise sung in so many accents and the French flag appearing on social media. But I think, it's also important to remember other terrorist incidents this year. The day before the Paris attacks, there was a suicide bombing in Beirut and a few days later bombings in Nigeria.
After the attacks I was asked about traveling to Paris. My advice, do what you feel comfortable with. If you go to Paris and worry about something happening, then it's not going to be a good trip. Stay home. If on the other hand, being in Paris in light of recent events isn’t too distracting, go. Really how you feel is most important. I also added that in terms of statistics, you're more likely to be killed or injured at home than in a terrorist attack. I don't know it if this makes someone feel any better but, to me it helps pick events into perspective. Just like there's more chance of an accident happening traveling to the airport, than on the plane.
Tourism in Paris, has dropped since the attacks. After November 13th the French government added 1,500 military troops to help with security. Anyone visiting Paris is likely to see more police and soldiers than usual. In terms of petty crime, it actually might be safer, with the extra security. Less chance of being pickpocketed, than in the past. On that subject here's a good series of public safety videos.

Jan & Jeff

It's been another month of conversations with Jan Malleval. We covered a range of topics including the attacks in Paris.
Thanksgiving in France - #34
We Stand with France - #33
Beef Tongue & Calf's Brains - #32
Say Cheese! - #31
Halloween in France - #30

Bûche de Noël

Christmas in France means Bûche de Noël - a cake made to look like a Yule Log. Here's my wife's recipe with a how-to video. Enjoy!

Winter Reading

Friday in France: A humorous memoir about leaving it all behind Friday in France, is a laugh-out-loud, 5-STAR, true, fish out of water story about a successful, New York TV Production Executive that leaves the rat-race and insanity of her life behind to go live on a calm and quiet, French Island in the Atlantic with her surfer-boyfriend.
Backstabbing in Beaujolais (Winemaker Detective): A business magnate calls on wine expert Benjamin Cooker to kickstart his new wine business in Beaujolais, sparking bitter rivalries. Can the Winemaker Detective and his assistant keep calculating real estate agents, taciturn winegrowers, dubious wine merchants and suspicious deaths from delaying delivery of the world-famous Beaujolais Nouveau?
White Leopard Kindle Edition: Everything is possible and nothing is certain. A man torn between two continents finds himself in a dangerous confrontation between tradition and corruption. Solo is a former cop who ran away from a dark past in France to start his life over again in Bamako, Mali, as a PI. An ordinary case turns out to be not so ordinary. The drug mule gets her throat slit. The French lawyer is too beautiful and too well-informed. The cocaine is too plentiful. This is hard-boiled noir with a modern twist set in West Africa.
When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation, 1940-1944: On June 14, 1940, German tanks entered a silent and nearly deserted Paris. Eight days later, France accepted a humiliating defeat and foreign occupation. Subsequently, an eerie sense of normalcy settled over the City of Light. Many Parisians keenly adapted themselves to the situation-even allied themselves with their Nazi overlords. At the same time, amidst this darkening gloom of German ruthlessness, deportations, shortages, and curfews, a resistance arose. Parisians of all stripes---Jews, immigrants, adolescents, communists, rightists, cultural icons such as Colette, de Beauvoir, Camus,
Fighters in the Shadows: A New History of the French Resistance: The French Resistance has an iconic status in the struggle to liberate Nazi-occupied Europe, but its story is entangled in myths. Gaining a true understanding of the Resistance means recognizing how its image has been carefully curated through a combination of French politics and pride, ever since jubilant crowds celebrated Paris’s liberation in August 1944. Robert Gildea’s penetrating history of resistance in France during World War II sweeps aside “the French Resistance” of a thousand clichés, showing that much more was at stake than freeing a single nation from Nazi tyranny.

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