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Yoko Kaise Column

The greatest joy

from  Paris / France

Yoko Kaise
Official French Government Guide

She has lived in France since 1998.
She has lived in Lyon and Bordeaux, and is currently working as an interpreter guide in Paris, guiding and explaining about the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles, as well as wine and gastronomy.

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DAYS /  Yoko Kaise Column

The greatest joy

Please don't call me Mademoiselle.




This is something I often thought about before I started living in France, but I wasn't sure if I could get along with the French people at all.


I came to France because I love it, but I was not sure if I would be able to integrate into the human society without any problems.

Here, I was alone, and I had to take care of my own affairs.

I was often told that if I couldn't speak my mind in front of others, I wouldn't be taken seriously.

I always thought that I had to be strong.


I was always thinking that I had to be strong, but I was sure that there were many parts of me that were just taking it easy, thinking that I could handle it.


There are a lot of things about French culture, society, and thinking that have been bothering me for a long time, and I don't agree with them, but I can't help it.


First of all, there is a surprisingly large number of gender distinctions in French, for example, in Japanese, you can't distinguish between men and women just by saying "~san". 

For example, in Japanese, the word "~san" does not distinguish between men and women. In French, however, the word "monsieur" refers to men, and is used regardless of age.

For women, it's a little more complicated.

However, this is a tricky situation, because it is considered rude to address a woman of a certain age as "mademoiselle," even if she is not married.

This is like calling a woman over 30 "Mademoiselle".


This is a complicated way of using the word.

In some administrative documents, for example, an unmarried woman of 50 may be addressed as <Mademoiselle>, and in other cases, only <Monsieur> or <Mademoiselle> can be chosen before the name.


Would <Mademoiselle> be considered as not having the right to decide anything?

Do you mean to say that they don't exist in society?



In addition, in my daily life in France, the only thing that made me think "Oh? In France, there are many female drivers of large cars.

Even city buses have a high rate of female drivers.

Also, there are many female police officers.

However, as I got used to it, I began to feel less and less unnatural about it.

I was surprised to see that women are not as active as they used to be, especially in physical work, but at the same time, I could see them shining brightly.


Now, let me introduce one of my few friends in France (all of whom have great charm, of course) who I think shines brightly.


Her name is Corinne.

What I find most impressive about her is that she is kind and cheerful at first glance, but has a strong core.

She never runs away from anything, even if she is in trouble.


We met in a classical ballet class.

We  were too old for ballet.

Corinne, however, had been doing it since she was a child, so she was able to continue even after a long break.

I pushed myself too hard and hurt myself in many places, so now I am quiet.


Corinne is a beautiful shoulder-length blonde with a curly perm.

She was an actress and is now an art therapist.

She sees patients in art, theater, dance, and also teaches simple stretching classes.

I can see from the side of her that she finds her work very rewarding.


We soon became friends, and after ballet class we would walk back to the nearest metro station together, chatting, and invite each other to concerts and lectures.

She was particularly interested in "outsider art" because of her work, and it was more interesting than going with someone who had no interest in it, so it was perfect.


Once, we went on a trip to a lecture by a psychology researcher.

I managed to understand the content of the lecture, but I was not able to express my own opinion.

Most of the participants, not just me, were completely absorbed in listening.

Corinne, however, was different.

She expressed her opinion in front of everyone (and with a smile) in a way that we could easily understand. Impressive! I was impressed as usual.


The researcher, however, rejected her opinion out of hand and refused to listen to her.

Even I, as a third party, could clearly sense that the researcher had a narrow sense of tolerance.

What would have happened if it had not been her, but an ordinary man?

There were almost only women in the room at that time.

He went on at his own pace until the end, and Corinne seemed like an afterthought.


She looked disappointed, and on the way home, we were both talking about it, but I didn't understand why the researcher didn't take any notice of her until the end.

Did we look too young? Did we seem like mademoiselles?


Of course, the two of us had our arguments, and we still had tea at least once a month to exchange information, but even then we sometimes talked as loudly as we wanted.


We haven't been able to have tea together for more than a year, especially because of the coronary heart disease, but she sends me a massage on weekends, and now we keep in touch with each other.


Things are getting better in France, and I've started making plans with friends I haven't seen in a while, and I'm looking forward to a drink on the terrace of a café.


I'm looking forward to having a drink on the terrace of a café with Corinne, of course.


We are both mademoiselles in the eyes of the law, but we are both independent madams in appearance and content.



DAYS /  Yoko Kaise Column

The greatest joy

Dear Madame Seine.



I've been living in France for more than 20 years now, and I've been living in my current place in the 12th arrondissement of Paris for six years already.

Basically, i lead a normal life, but I have to admit that my job as a guide is irregular and i have to be on my toes all the time, and needless to say, the city of Paris itself is a kind of tense place.


Until 2003, i lived in Bordeaux.  Although it was only for five years,  it was more relaxed than Paris, it was a good life.

I met many of my friends when i was attending a sports club, and i still keep in touch with a few of them from time to time.

In Bordeaux, i started to go to the beach a lot, which I had never done when i lived in Japan.

I was fascinated by the sea at Lacanau, which i had visited once after reading a guidebook, and i felt it suited me very well.


On weekends, when i was alone, i would take the early morning bus for an hour and spend the whole morning on the sandy beach of Lacanau, reading, gazing out at the sea, sometimes dozing off and half asleep, and always looking forward to a walk at the end of the day.

Lacanau was a small town with only a few restaurants, cafes, a mini-supermarket, and a few souvenir shops in the center, but it was fun to browse around and chat with the locals, who often called me "Sawadikar" because of my tan.


When I went out with my friends, it was usually by car, so that was fun too. We didn't have to get up early, and it was great to have a picnic with sandwiches and fruit, and sometimes  i tried my best to make California rolls and bring them with me. Eating them on the beach tasted even better than it was.

When i moved to Paris, my life became more stable and busy, but without the ocean.

There was one called "Paris Plage" which was an idea to turn a part of the Seine River into a beach with deck chairs, drink stands, etc. so that people who had to stay in Paris for the season due to work could enjoy the vacation atmosphere.

I had done a month-long internship at a tourist bureau in Montpellier in the south of France, and i had already enjoyed Palavas, the Grand Motte, and the sea in Collioure (a town loved by artists, and my personal favorite and recommended), so Paris-Plage was not enough for me.

This was my biggest complaint about living in Paris.

I began to seriously think, "If i want to feel like I'm on vacation, i'll have to escape Paris. I began to think seriously.


Nevertheless, my life in Paris gradually improved thanks to various discoveries, especially the presence of the Seine River, so that i didn't have to go far or spend much money to feel like i was on vacation.

I was starting to get stressed out, and just as I was starting to realize that I needed to think about enjoying life a little more without pushing myself too hard.

First of all, I rediscovered the municipal swimming pools. There are about 39 in Paris, but the ones I had been to were not very enjoyable.

For me, everyone seemed to be taking their swimming seriously.

But i founded nice swimming pool on the Seine river. It is called as <Josephine Becker>. It is a swimming pool in shape of ship. There are a lot of windows,and when the ceiling is open, you can swim directly in the sunshine or sunbathe on the deck.

There is also a sauna, hammam, jacuzzi, aqua gym, and fitness club, but it's run by the city, so it's very inexpensive.

I'm sorry to say, but if I can have so much fun for so little money, I can use it more than the free Paris Plage.


There is also a student cafeteria nearby, which i haven't used yet, but I think it's worth paying the service fee just to have a meal with a view of the Seine.


I can say that Paris is a place where you can spend a lot of money on luxury, or you can spend a little money to have the best time of your life.

The Seine River in particular is a wonderful place to just stand and watch, and i highly recommend that you experience it at least once.


 I also remembered a different way to enjoy the river.

There is a group of people called "bukinists" who use stands of dark green boxes along the river to sell used books, and this is one of the old Parisian specialties.

Although the number of these stands has dwindled, they still add to the atmosphere of Paris with the Seine in the background.

Even now, they sell some books, posters, postcards, etc. You can find a variety of things as souvenir. It is a good idea to look for your favorites while strolling around.




When I think back on the first lockdown imposed on France last spring to prevent coronary infections, it was very painful, and when even the parks in my neighborhood were closed, i was in a state of despair.

However, in my case, i was just barely able to see the Seine River because it was only 1km away from my house, and i can't tell you how much that saved my life.

I went to see it day after day and never got tired of it.


I also heard from a friend that one day during the lockdown, she saw a middle-aged man sitting on a bench by the Seine drinking a glass of Champagne.

Although he was concerned about the time, he was still enjoying the scenery, and i guess the Seine River is irreplaceable for Parisians.

The fact that it was Champagne made me think that he was French.


The source of the Seine is the Burgundy region.

It crosses Paris and finally empties into the sea at the port town of the Havre in Normandy.

It is the third longest river in France.

For me, the Seine has become an indispensable part of my family.

It is a friendly and reliable river, and I will always be indebted to it.