The Feast of St. John

The Bonfires of St. John, a Midsummer tradition particularly popular in Catalonia, dates back to pre-Christian summer solstice celebrations but has become associated with the birth date of St. John, June 24. Here in Northern Catalonia, we add the association with the Canigou flame, a symbol of Catalan identity, by simulating the bringing of fire … Continue reading The Feast of St. John

Pay to Play

Sometimes coping with The French Bureaucracy is a straightforward commercial transaction. I drove up to Montpellier yesterday for a medical exam and interview with the OFII, the national office of immigration and integration, a name that implies some effort will be made to help newcomers adapt to French society. I wouldn’t count on it. After … Continue reading Pay to Play

You Meet the Nicest People in a Bar

I was chewing on an immense magret from a steroidal duck and washing it down with Coop wine when an old friend from past visits came in and I immediately launched into my insurance saga. “This is wrong. I can help you.” He went to another table, talked with one of the men, and returned … Continue reading You Meet the Nicest People in a Bar

Paris, 29 March

A busy day at the Palais Royal, one of my favorite places in this lovely and still livable city. Originally the home of Cardinal Richelieu, it housed royalty until the revolution, and many notables since, including Colette and Cocteau (not in the same apartment). There are two distinct sections enclosed by offices, the Comedie Francaise, … Continue reading Paris, 29 March