Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Aaaah, Paris!

Linda Mathieu, who writes the blog Frenchless in France (which you can click on under My Blog List) recently wrote a book for those traveling to Paris. It's available at Amazon.com on eBook for $8.99. Here's what Linda had to say about the book:
Why did you write Secrets of a Paris Tour Guide? A few years after I moved to Paris with my husband I tried to find several jobs including trying to teach English but it wasn't for me. I had a friend who did walking tours around Paris and he showed me how he did a typical tour. I did a huge amount of reading and
walking and finally started my own company, Paris Photo Tours. I really enjoy photography and I thought it would be fun to do tours with people who liked taking photos. It eventually developed into tours of all sorts. So, to answer your question, after doing tours for ten years I decided to put together all of the knowledge I've gained. I'm hoping it will be a help to people coming to Paris for the first time.
What can Paris visitors find in your book that they wouldn't see in other tour books? Besides where to stay, some places to eat and what to expect once you have arrived in Paris, I have walking instructions for four of my favorite tours. I also include my favorite places for photos. I hope my love of Paris comes through.
What is the one place visitors don't know about but should definitely see? There are many places that the typical tourist misses mainly because Paris is so full of beauty and there is a list of places that most people want to see-the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Arch de Triumph. One of my favorite churches that many people miss Saint-Étienne du Mont next to the Pantheon. It has an unbelievable rood screen inside along with the body of Sainte-Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris, in a Cinderalla-like coffin. Then head on down the hill to Rue Moufftard, an interesting shopping street.
Where can readers buy your book? Right now it is only available on Amazon as a digital book, such as Kindle. I plan to have to available for publish on demand soon.
Here's an excerpt from the book:
It is hard work being a tourist. You arrive in Paris after an all night flight on which children screamed, the person in the seat next to you woke you up to go to the toilet the few times you managed to drop off, and then, just as you finally fall into a deep sleep, the flight attendants serve what is laughingly called breakfast, usually a banana, a cold hard roll and some yogurt.
Finally you leave the plane; your hair is sticking up on the back of your head; you long to brush your teeth; and hundreds of people are in line before you waiting to go through customs. Making it past this stop, where they didn’t even stamp your passport, you arrive at luggage pickup and stand with fellow travelers for at least fifteen minutes as the luggage is slowly disgorged out of the little door to the moving track. Pushing your way through crowds of people from all over the world, each with huge carts of luggage, you make it to the taxi stand outside. The taxi driver does not understand what you are saying when you give the name of your hotel. After several attempts, along with writing down the address, he finally gets it and you are off. That is, if the traffic is flowing on the périphérique around Paris. If you have managed to stay alert, the Eiffel Tower will suddenly spring into sight and you realize that you are, indeed, in Paris.
Arriving at your hotel, you find, if it is the average Parisian hotel and not one of those grand hotels along the lines of the Ritz, that it has a small, crowded lobby, but the person behind the desk speaks English and, in English, you are informed that your room is not yet ready. She allows you to leave your luggage at the hotel and, having no choice, you stagger out onto the street, unbelievably tired, and walk around getting your first look at Paris.
There they are, those buildings looking so, well, French, just like in every movie filmed in Paris you have ever seen. You hear people speaking French all around you, and a few American tourists can be heard as well. Paris smells different and looks different with the cafes open to the air with tables and chairs spilling out onto the sidewalks, the flower shops with their fantastic displays outside the door, boulangeries selling desserts that look like jewels to the American eye and with long sticks of baquettes sticking up like trees behind the sales people manning the counter. After a while, you stop at a cafe and have your first revelation on how different Paris is when you taste the French coffee, full and robust, and eat a croissant that showers your shirt front with buttery flakes. Weeks, months, even years from now that first taste will come to your mind when you hear the word Paris or catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower on television.
You return to your hotel, and thankfully, your room is ready. Opening the door to the elevator, you give a surprised laugh when you see the size of it, as it is only able to hold two average sized people if they squish up closely together face to face—not side by side—or one person with a suitcase. Making it to the floor of your room, you find the hall in total darkness before you discover that there is some sort of lighting in the hall which has to be turned on with a button on the wall and which automatically turns itself off in a few minutes, hopefully not before you manage to get the key into the door.
You open the door of your room and, my, is it small! The double bed fills most of the space. There is a lamp on a bedside table that you will whack with your elbow each time you pass it. There may or may not be a chair or desk, and if it is one of those really charming rooms filled with ambience and that French look, there will be an armoire that will barely hold your clothing, no place to put the luggage, and tall men will become claustrophobic within a few minutes. The decor will either be charmingly French and reminiscent of the movie Gigi or like something lost in time looking like the room hasn’t been touched since 1955.
You open the window and find no screens (and interestingly, no flies will ever enter the room) and discover that you can lean out and look at the buildings across the street or the crowds of people below, and should your hotel be in the right place, you will see the Eiffel Tower or Arch de Triumph in the distance. If you are lucky, there is air conditioning, but either it will not work with the efficiency of what you are used to in the States, or it will be turned off at three in the morning, which you discover when you wake up sweating and hot. Often people will leave the window open at night to hopefully let in some fresh air. This is when they discover that the room faces a very busy street full of party animals doing a lot of drinking and full of merriment. Finally, around 3 AM, it quiets down, and just as you drop into a deep sleep, the trash man comes to pick up the garbage, the recycling truck comes to empty the containers holding thousands of glass bottles, and then the cleaning men come to hose down the street with noisy sprays of water.
The bathroom in your room will either be a good size, with a tub and lots of marble, having been recently renovated, or it will be the size of a small closet with a tiny shower that you will exit by stepping over the toilet. There will be no shower curtain and there will be one of those hand held shower heads that the French are so fond of. The floor of the bathroom will always get wet.
In spite of it all, you won’t care. You are in Paris, with a discovery to charm you on every street corner. You will stand on a bridge crossing the Seine, that river you have heard of all of your life, and look at Ile de la Cite, the island where the Notre Dame stands, and you won’t believe your luck to be in the most beautiful city in the world.


Just reading the excerpt, I felt that frisson, remembering the smells, the sounds of Paris. I can't wait to go again, but, long before my next trip, I'll read the book for the memories and to find out which places I've missed.
Now I just need to get an eReader.

3 comments:

Linda said...

Sounds like a book to put on my list...once it comes out in hardcopy. I have an ereader but for something like this I'd like to put it on my bookshelf.

I love the description...I remember the drive from the airport. As exhausted as I was I was so darn excited.

The mention about the yahoos out at 3am reminded me of the Saturday night I was woken up at 3am by the pounding of music from the bar downstairs - it was "techno" night and the bar was open until 6am lol

I too want to go back for a few weeks again, this time with my husband so I could share the experience of what it felt like to "live" in Paris although temporary.

Just Me said...

I really enjoyed the excerpt - if Paris ever makes it to the top of my list.

Just maybe this will give it a little push upward.

I bet Princess will like it too.

Thanks for Sharing !

Stephanie said...

I feel as though I personally just experienced Paris for the first time. Merci Linda!

Thank you for sharing Linda and her book with us Paulita.

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