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CULTURE

How Brexit and a French mother-in-law led a British dominatrix to Paris

'British guys tend to be quite reserved - until you get them behind closed doors and then all hell breaks loose - while French guys are much more open about being into fetish and kink.' The words of a British dominatrix who has set up shop in Paris.

How Brexit and a French mother-in-law led a British dominatrix to Paris
Photo: Rachel May. www.fetishwebmistress.com

Lady Bellatrix has been operating in central Paris for about 18 months since moving from the UK and has become one of the most high profile international dominatrices operating on the French scene.

And France can thank Brexit and her French mother-in-law for her arrival on these shores.

Lady Bellatrix, who was born in Canada but moved to Britain and has British citizenship, is now something of a star of the fetish scene and charges €450 for a 90 minute appointment.

READ ALSO Jealousy and steel balls – my year of dating French men in Paris


Photo: Rachel May – www.fetishwebmistress.com

 

Her clientele is international – she saw people from 11 different countries last year – but Brits and of course French men are heavily represented.

She said: “Being in Paris is great because of course a lot of people travel here, so I have regular clients who come here from the UK a few times a year on business and come and see me too.

“I have people who have travelled from Kuwait and Dubai to see me after finding my videos online, and of course I have a lot of French clients.”

For French men the requirements include – beside paying the hefty fee and being prepared to worship at the feet of Lady Bellatrix – speaking English.

She said: “I'm learning French and I'm getting more confident so now I do the odd session in French but I find it easier to speak English.

“I have private tutor sessions with a French man who is a male dom, so that's handy for me learning the vocabulary I need for my work, a well as the basic French grammar.”

Despite her dual nationality, Lady Bellatrix markets herself very much as British “the stern British mistress is very popular”.

She trained in her craft with a British dominatrix and feels her style is very British.

She said: “I'm much more stern and strict than dommes in the USA or Canada and I do a lot more corporal punishment – that's really popular with British guys, more so than any other nationality and it's a big part of the scene in the UK.

“I find that British guys tend to be more reserved – on the surface at least – but French men are more open about what they're in to.

“One of my British friends had her dungeon next to the Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent and she always had a huge spike in business in December, as men told their wives they were off Christmas shopping but went to visit her instead.


Photo: Rachel May – www.fetishwebmistress.com

 

“But December is usually a good month for me as well, people are in a party mood and more likely to treat themselves – we all tend to get a little treat for ourselves as well as buying presents for other people.”

Although she enjoyed her time in Britain, it was Brexit that persuaded her to make the move to France.

She said: “I was married to a French guy so visited my mother-in-law in Paris anyway.

“I used to do tours quite regularly in France – advertising in advance that I was going to be there for a month – and then I would go and visit my mother-in-law afterwards.

“I stayed close with her even after my husband and I split up and she was very accepting.

“I was spending several months of the year in Paris and I knew I wanted to carry on spending time here, so when Brexit happened I decided to make the move permanently.”

And it was a good move, as she is now a star of the fetish scene, with 48,000 followers on Twitter and hundreds of subscribers to her videos.

She divides her time roughly 50/50 between performances on camera – some pre-recorded videos and some live on webcam – and 'real time' visits from devoted slaves.

People who want to visit – and it is strictly by advance booking only with a non-refundable deposit – can indulge in a variety of activities including foot fetishism, bondage, humiliation, latex, corporal punishment or cleaning her apartment.

There are also some more extreme activities on offer. She said: “I think the cane is my favourite – it's so very British.”

And being British seems to offer a distinct advantage in the industry.

“I did a performance on camera about Brexit that was really popular with French guys. And I sometimes incorporate current affairs into my performances – the other day I told a slave 'Do not disrespect your queen – look what happened to Prince Harry!”

So, Brexit paperwork permitting, she's here to stay and has plans to expand into a bigger dungeon.

And – in a sign that she's truly embracing the French way of life – she's even joined a union.

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MONEY

Everything you need to know about France’s 2022 summer sales

In France, you can only shop the best deals twice a year - during the soldes. Here is everything you need to know about this year's summer sales.

Everything you need to know about France's 2022 summer sales

They happen twice a year – Each year, France has two soldes periods: one in the winter, usually starting January, and another in the summer, usually starting in June.

This summer, the soldes will start on Wednesday, June 22nd in most parts of France and run for four weeks, so even though you might be tempted to go on the first day, keep in mind they’ll be going on for a while.

They are progressive, so items will be continuously marked down as the soldes wear on. If you wait, you are risking that your favourite t-shirt might sell out quickly, but if you’re lucky it might end up marked down even further.

During 2020 and 2021 the government altered sales dates and time periods to help shops cope with closures and lockdowns, but now we’re back to the usual timetable.

This is the only time stores can have “sales” – Technically, the soldes are the only time that stores are allowed to have sales, but the definition of ‘sale’ is important.

Basically, the French government qualifies a ‘solde‘ as the store selling an item for less than they purchased it for.

During the rest of the year discounting is allowed in certain circumstances, so you might see promotions or vente privée (private sales, usually short-term events aimed at regular customers or loyalty-card holders) throughout the year.

In these situations the stores might be selling items for less than their original price, but they are not permitted to sell the item for less than they bought it for. 

Shops are also permitted to have closing-down sales if they are shutting down, or closing temporarily for refurbishment.

They are strictly regulated by the French government – Everything from how long the soldes go for to the consumer protection rules that apply to the very definition of ‘solde’ is regulated by the French government, and the main purpose of this is to protect small independent businesses which might not be able to offer the same level of discounts as the big chains and multi-national companies.

Whether you shop in person or online, the same rules apply.

As a consumer, you still have the same rights as non-sales times regarding broken or malfunctioning items – meaning you ought to be entitled to a refund if the item has not been expressly indicated as faulty. The French term is vice caché, referring to discovering a defect after purchase.

On top of that, stores must be clear about which items are reduced and which are not – and must display the original price on the label as well as the sale price and percentage discount. 

READ MORE: Your consumer rights for French sales

They started in the 19th century – France’s soldes started in the 19th century, alongside the growth of department stores who had the need to regularly renew their stock – and get rid of leftover items.

Simon Mannoury, who founded the first Parisian department store “Petit Saint-Thomas” in 1830, came up with the idea.

Funnily enough, this department store actually is the ancestor for the famous department store Le Bon Marché. His goal was to sell off the previous season’s unsold stock in order to replace it with new products.

In order to do this, Mannoury offered heavy discounts to sell as much merchandise as possible in a limited time.

The soldes start at different times depending on where you live – The sales start at the same time across most of mainland France, but there are exceptions for overseas France and certain départements, usually those along the border.

France’s finance ministry allows for the sales to start at different times based on local economies and tourist seasons. 

For the summer 2022 sales only two parts of metropolitan France have different dates; Alpes-Maritimes sales run from July 6th to August 2nd, while on the island of Corsica they run from July 13th to August 9th.

In France’s overseas territories the sales are held later in the year.

You might qualify for a tax rebate – If you are resident outside the EU, you might be eligible for a tax rebate on your sales purchases.

If you spend at least €100 in one store, then you qualify. You should hold onto your receipt and tell the cashier you plan to use a tax rebate so they can give you the necessary documentation (a duty-free slip).

Then when you are leaving you can find the kiosk at the station or airport dedicated to tax rebates (détaxe) and file prior to leaving France. For more information read HERE

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