About half the e-mails I receive from Secrets of Paris readers are questions about what to see and do in Paris, where to stay and eat, or to wear and say. The other half are questions about living, working or studying in France, from the ins and outs of residency permits to the easiest way to get US prescriptions filled in Paris. Although I’ve been around the block a few times (especially that block around the Prefecture on Ile de la Cité), there are still many things that baffle me today, especially the red tape and bureaucracy of the strange French rules and laws.
So I send these readers to the one man I know who can most likely answer these questions: M. Jean Taquet. Some of you may remember his Q&A; column in the Paris Voice magazine. But others may be wondering how some French guy can help them out with their strange cross-cultural problems. Jean Taquet is a French jurist and associate member of the Delaware Bar Association, and not has lived in the US, but also married an American (so he understands, really he does). I’ve asked M. Taquet to write a little note to all of you, so here he is:
“I have had this Q/A column for the past 8 years, so the column and I go back a long way! I got married to Paula, an American citizen, in the state of Delaware (USA), in May, 1986, and started my professional life shortly thereafter. When I came to the US, I knew right away that I would have to reshape myself according to the American mold, and quickly earned the reputation of being a hard worker.
Late in 1989, we moved to France. My wife’s French has always been better than my English but, during her first years living in here, she found France to be an illogical country. To her American mind, everything was done the wrong way, and I often found myself trying to explain the French way of doing things and show the French logic behind all this. I soon realized that, if someone like my wife had so much trouble adapting, then the vast majority of Americans coming to France must surely be facing the same problems, at the very least. So I decided that writing a column dealing exclusively with people’s questions, in the way they see and feel them, could be a valuable help. During the 1993 Thanksgiving dinner at the American Church in Paris, I submitted this idea to the editor of the Paris Free Voice, and he had a very favorable reaction. I used some of the issues my wife and I dealt with to create the first Q/A’s, and the first issue was published in March, 1994.
Ever since (ten times a year), the column has been published with one to four Q/A’s, first in the Paris Free Voice, then on the website, thinkparis.com. Within a few months of starting the column, I started responding to the questions that I had begun to receive. For many years, this column was my hobby, as well as my contribution to the English-speaking community living in Paris. In July, 1997, I started my own consulting business, hoping that my readers would also appreciate being my clients. A steady increase in clients has made my business a success, and I would like to thank all of my faithful readers, who have made this wonderful story possible.”
You can still see M. Taquet’s column at the Paris Voice website, or ask him to put you directly on his mailing list: email@example.com.
Better yet, for those of you who have lots and lots of questions (he’ll only answer one for free), you’re best bet is to buy his new e-book, The Insider Guide to Practical Answers for Living in France, which compiles and indexes all of his advice from the eight years of Q&A.; I’ve never seen any other book that covers quite as much territory as this one. You can look at the huge table of contents to see what’s included. I myself have consulted M. Taquet a number of times over the years I’ve been in Paris (and he’s good at remembering people, which is nice). So go ahead and keep sending me your questions about Paris, but if you think it’s more of a legal/practical question, don’t mess with the middle(wo)man, contact M. Taquet, and tell him Heather sent you!
This article is one of the 78 original “Secrets of Paris” articles published between September 1999 and July 2004. After disappearing into the internet graveyard for almost 15 years, I’ve republished them in autumn 2019 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Secrets of Paris: “1999-2019: Twenty Years of the Secrets of Paris” Broken and dead links have been updated or deactivated, but otherwise the article remains unchanged.