New Book Alert: Travel Journalism!

Travel journalism. It’s a glamorous profession, you probably think. Expense accounts to eat in fancy restaurants, free stays in luxury hotels, endless offers to trek the globe — sounds good, right?

Well, travel journalists don’t actually do those things as much as you think. Not real ones, at least. And now that anyone can publish online, from blogs to Instagram, it’s all become a bit more complicated. Being a travel journalist is actually much more complex and nuanced than writing about your latest trip to some coastal town. There’s a lot at stake when you write about a foreign place. 

That’s the takeaway from my book, Travel Journalism: Informing Tourists in the Digital Age, published by Routledge this year. The culmination of nearly 6 years of research at the Sorbonne, it covers travel journalism from a variety of viewpoints. How has social media affected travel journalism? How can it be a constructive practice? How has the sharing economy intersected with journalism? 

There are a lot of questions, and many answers to choose from, but this book, I hope, gets the conversation started.

Heather — founder of Secrets of Paris, in case you didn't know — gave me my first break into travel journalism years ago when she took me under her wing. A true journalist herself, she instilled a lot of the values and practices in me that I discuss in this book. She’s proof that travel journalism can be better than what most of us are seeing online. As we led our trave writing workshop a few years ago, we discussed many of the ideas I wrote about in this book, and I hope that they can now be useful to a new generation of travel journalists.

Make note, however, that this is not simply a how-to guide for wannabe journalists. It's more of an ethnography, a snapshot of the profession in the early 21st century. If you are familiar with the basic tenets of journalism or have worked in travel media, you’ll probably find it informative. There are a lot of academic references in it, but don’t be daunted. The principle messages should be fairly straightforward to any reader with some journalism experience.

If you’re a media student, a practitioner, or simply curious about travel journalism and its changes with the internet, this book might be of interest to you. I hope to see what sorts of ideas and research spin off it, because my work is far from the last word on travel journalism!

Check out Travel Journalism: Informing Tourists in the Digital Age on Amazon here.


Station F's New Italian Food Market 

When there is a line in Paris, you know you’ve stumbled upon something new and trendy. Recently, we waited in a line at the Station F, a small business incubator and one of the newest hot spots in Paris. Housed in a former rail station in the 13th arrondissement used by La Poste, today it is home to Paris’s coolest small business start-ups.

But we don’t care about business — not here at least. Today we’re talking about food.

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Cycling in Paris: An Update

I’m not in London anymore. When I moved back to Paris after a year and a half in the UK, this became clear on many levels. The baguettes. The smoking. The cafés. It was all just as I had left it — almost. 

One of the most striking difference was as I hopped on my bike to whisk off to some social engagement where I realized that Paris’s cycle culture had changed enormously, and mostly for the better.

As I rode along the streets, I noticed three distinct changes that show how Paris is embracing cycling. They are good to know if you are thinking about spending some time on two wheels while here.

Bike Lanes

First, the bike lane expansion has made it easier than ever to get around town. New thoroughfares  have created designated cycle paths along rue de Rivoli that street to the BNF in the east and all the way to Place de la Concorde in the west, with a short stint along the now-pedestrian Berges de Seine.

This east-west axis means I can cycle more easily without having to share lanes with buses or taxis. It also means that the infernal scooters and motorbikes that sneak into bike lanes can’t follow me as I pedal along. 

Construction all over town is revealing new cycle lanes, and it all feels, overall, well-conceived. There is a bit on rue de Rivoli where the cycle lanes, on the left side of the road, all the sudden switch to the right side, preventing seamless commutes. Hopefully this will change over time. Overall, it’s quite the improvement. 


It’s not nerdy to wear a helmet anymore! In fact, I see them all the time. In London, cycle culture demands such safety gear. They also sport a lot of Lycra, which I can do without. But safety first! Even Londoners using the bike sharing system usually wear a helmet. Paris, however, had always been a helmet optional city, but it’s changing. 

Safety is important for cyclists, and it’s exciting to see how many Parisians are taking it seriously. While those using cycle sharing schemes might not always pack a helmet, those with their own bikes are taking precautions more and more. I no longer feel like the weirdo who brings his bike helmet to the café.

Bike Sharing Systems

Almost ironically, it’s interesting to see how many more people seem to have their own bikes now, considering the demise of the once glorious Vélib bike sharing system. Since arriving back in Paris, I’ve noticed the stations have been less-than functional, something that has been going on for months.

A change of hands from JC Decaux to Smovengo has led to numerous problems this year, rendering the Vélib nearly useless. I haven’t even bothered to sign up for it since bikes are rarely available. The city has been reimbursing subscribers. Even worse, many Velib workers have been on strike since April, so basically, just don’t plan on using it anytime soon.

There are other options, like the Ofo bikes, the yellow free-standing bike share program. You have to use an app to access them. They’ve popped up in other cities, including London. Similar systems like Gobee and oBike are stilling hanging around, but it seems like many of their bikes have just landed in the river. I saw one submerged in a fountain while jogging the other day. This is why we can’t have nice things, I thought.

For all the setbacks of the Vélib, the Parisian landscape is changing for cyclists. While studies suggest that cycling in Paris has not cut down significantly on car traffic, perhaps as it becomes easier and more culturally acceptable to commute via bicycle, Parisians will start to evolve. Perhaps not. Either way, I’m a happy little cyclist cruising across the city, sporting my helmet, ecstatic not to be crammed in the metro or waiting in traffic in some stuffy bus. 


Mystery Author Cara Black's Research in Paris' 13th Arrondissement

New York Times best-selling author of the Aimée Leduc mystery series set in Paris, Cara Black spends a lot of the time in the city interviewing locals to research her books. I've known Cara for a long time (we even launched our books together at a fabulous event in San Francisco three years ago), so I was thrilled to hear the newest book in the series Murder on the Left Bank would take place in my neighborhood, Paris' 13th arrondissement. Here is Cara's blog post about the morning we spent together strolling around the local market, shopping for groceries (me) and gathering stories from the long-time locals who grew up here. 

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Music by the Glass

Sinfonietta, a Paris chamber music organization, sponsors a series called Music by the Glass which features intimate concerts in small concert halls and private homes throughout the city. The same concert is performed on Friday and Saturday evenings, once in a hall and once in a lovely, spacious Paris home. Article by Secrets of Paris contributor Yvonne Shao

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The Paris Dream Trip (Part 4): How to Get About

(This article is part 4 of 8 in The Paris Dream Trip)

How do you get from A to B (and then to C, D, and E) in Paris? The Good News: Paris has a ton of options! The Bad News: Paris has a ton of options.

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