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With Love, From Paris

Story by Linda Donahue, Editor in Chief

Sometimes I get so busy sharing my love of Paris with friends, family and readers, that I don’t take the time to appreciate all of the things that made me fall in love with the city, in the first place.

I can still remember my first visit there, so long ago. In retrospect, I was an accidental tourist, deciding to take advantage of an Air France “open jaw” fare that allowed me to fly into Rome and out of Paris for less than a roundtrip ticket between Miami and Rome.

I was entirely prepared for Italy—my first visit there, too. I did the classic Rome to Florence to Venice trifecta, taking the train from one city to the next, knowing what I wanted to see and what I expected in each destination.

I can’t say the same for Paris, so after checking into my hotel in the 6th arrondissement (which meant nothing to me at the time) after an overnight train ride from Venice, I didn’t even know where to begin. I literally spent 90 minutes staring at the volumes of guidebooks and maps sprawled across my bed. I suddenly found myself completely unworthy of the French capital, wondering who was I, this inconsequential American, to think I could even begin to conquer the city?

Finally, frustrated by my fear, I grabbed one map and decided to just walk. It was as simple as deciding whether to go straight, turn left or turn right, and before long, I found myself delightfully lost and hopelessly in love with Paris.

In the million years since, my French has improved significantly, and I’ve come to know the city, it’s quirks and charms, as if I was born there. But I continue to be surprised by its hidden treasures, almost all that have been revealed to me by the friends I’ve made in the French capital:

  • Stunning courtyards hidden behind mammoth doors that suddenly open to offer access to me and the ever-curious Richard Nahem, the mastermind behind Eye Prefer Paris tours.
  • Incredible cafés in the “non-tourist” arrondissements, where I’ve met Lindsey Tramuta (Lost in Cheeseland) and Heather Stimmler-Hall (Secrets of Paris) on countless occasions.
  • Sharing drinks, cheap lunches, last-minute dinners, and a fabulous home-cooked meal at the home of the incredibly gorgeous and superbly talented jewelry designer John Agee – a native Texan who was born to live in Paris.
  • Discovering the baroque beauty of unused salons—and even the ladies room—upstairs at the Ladurée on the Champs-Élysées with Beth Arnold.
  • Negotiating the flea markets and brocantes (and even the Metro) with Claudia Strasser of The Paris Apartment (who I also introduced to my love for Picard).
  • Meeting Paris bloggers, like Amy Thomas (God I Love Paris) and Sion Dayson (Paris Imperfect) at one of Erica Berman’s (Haven in Paris) fabulous soirées at her Montmartre apartment, where I’ve also befriended French photographers, artists and expat architects.
  • Taking David Lebovitz to dinner and feeling absolutely terrified that he’ll think my choice of restaurant a terrible one.
  • Flying to Barcelona for lunch on Thanksgiving Day to enjoy a wine tasting with Olivier Magney (O-Chateau), a true character if I’ve ever met one, and befriending Susan Barbour, who I have since dubbed “the wine poet of Paris.”
  • Accepting an invitation from Jane Bertch of La Cuisine Paris to take a cooking class, and making lifelong friends with Lisa Buros-Hutchins (Your Paris Experience) and the fabulous chef, Diane Anthonissen.
  • Meeting Tom Reeves and his lovely wife, Monique Wells (Paris Insights) for drinks in the 5th arrondissement.
  • Sharing chocolate chaud on the Ile Saint-Louis with Meredith Mullins, one of my favorite photographers (who took the picture at the top of this page).
  • Sitting and sharing a cup of tea with Louise Brody in the former atelier of Picasso, which she has transformed into her home, office and an art gallery.
  • Sitting in the grand salon of Karen Fawcett’s (Bonjour Paris) apartment in the Luxembourg Quartier and learning about some of her favorite places in Paris.

These are just some of the people who have shown me the real Paris, and who have inspired me to explore this city more deeply. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I’m sharing the love for Paris that all of these people have shown me … and maybe you’ll begin to see Paris through different eyes.

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10 Responses to “With Love, From Paris”

  1. Lindsey says:

    And we’re lucky that you fell in love with Paris! Beautifully said. Here’s too many more years and meals ahead!

  2. Thanks so much for including me on your list! It was so lovely to finally meet you in Montmartre! Here’s to more Paris love and discoveries ahead!

  3. Sari says:

    Thanks for sharing your love with this city, and introducing us to others who love it, too.

  4. Sweet Freak says:

    Sheesh, Linda! I think you put all us locals to shame… you really live it up and connect well in Paris! (And it was a pleasure when we did!) xo, Amy

  5. Linda Donahue says:

    I’ll drink to that!

  6. Linda Donahue says:

    Paris is going to miss you like crazy! (But we’ll have to meet up in NYC.)

  7. You’ve got quite a crew! I’m glad to be part of your posse and love being in the city with you!

  8. Ella says:

    That snowy photo looks so cool from such an angle.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences in Paris, it just makes me want to go again.

    I still remember the first time I saw the city. I was coming out of a metro station after my train arrived from Amsterdam, it must have been around 5 in the morning. I walked up to the street and it was like coming out of the womb for the first time and seeing the light. I couldn’t believe a place so beautiful existed.

  9. Jeff says:

    I was a reluctant first visitor to Paris in 1989. I can relate to your feeling about being born there, by the time my taxi got to the hotel I was convinced that I belonged in this city. I have spent as much time in Paris as I can since that day. Usually a month every year but on some good years I’ve been able to do 2 months. Wandering the streets, taking pictures, thinking about the city and why it has such an impact on me and then writing about it.

    Your photographs are marvelous.

  10. I feel truly honored to have made the “list”! Thank you, and we’ll be seeing each other very soon!

    Bisous,
    John

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