Well we have been wandering around France the last couple of week with stories of Provence from Stephanie and Sara for my Beyond Paris series. Now it is time to return to Paris! And who better to do that with than Linda Mathieu, author of Secrets of a Paris Tour Guide. A lady who knows all the secrets…that is someone to know!
Paris isn’t always love at first sight, but she certainly can grow on you, which seems to be the case for Linda’s story. But let’s here it from her side.
I’m one of the few women that I know that didn’t come to Paris out of passion for the city. In fact, I had a bad memory of Paris from years ago when my ex husband and I got into an argument on top of the Eiffel Tower.
When I visited Paris with him, along with cities in Spain and Italy, I had very little knowledge of what I was seeing not having studied anything about Europe or architecture in my college courses. I found Paris beautiful but I wasn’t consumed with a desire to return. No, my passion was travel. Once I had a taste of it I wanted to see as much of the world as I could and I went many places-China, Russia, Mexico, various Caribbean Islands and I loved it all.
It wasn’t until I met my present husband, a Frenchman (I met him on a blind date in Texas), that I found myself living in Paris. My son had set me up with a website (they weren’t called blogs yet) so I could keep family and friends up to date with my new life in Paris and I was out and about with my also new digital camera taking photos so I could post about what I had seen. As I recall, my first visit was to Notre Dame.
I climbed those many stairs to the top of the cathedral and was amazed when I saw the view with the Seine winding its way through the city, crossed by lovely bridges watched forever by those famous gargoyles. I gaped at the Hotel de Ville, went to the top of the modern arch at La Defense, and, of course, made the trip up the Eiffel Tower. I eventually even had lunch at Jules Verne at the top, a must for romantics. It’s hard to beat the view.
I explored neighborhoods endlessly-the Marais, the Left Bank, the Eiffel Tower and Canal Saint Martin. It was fun wandering around my own neighborhood too and I had a lovely surprise one morning as I passed my local boulangerie and found a truck delievering flour, not in sacks, but through a tube from the truck to the basement. The air was filled with a white fog with the fragrance of flour.
It doesn’t take long to observe that the French love food, wine, flowers, pharmacies and women’s underwear when stores selling these items are seen on just about every block. And of course there is the pleasure of shopping at my neighborhood marché finding the freshest fruits and vegetables in the city, along with meat and fish. I think that’s one of the best experiences to be had in Paris if you don’t count sitting in the sun on a terrace watching Parisian life pass by.
So, I love my life here in Paris but do I love Paris passionately? Would I move back to the States if I could? Let’s put it this way: when my husband retired he gave me the option of moving back I decided I wanted to stay here. I think you could call that love.
Linda blogs about her daily life in Frenchless in France and is the author of Secrets of a Paris Tour Guide a book she wrote to share all the secrets she learned when she became a tour guide. Catch her on Twitter as well @lindamathieu