Recommended Reading: Half An Hour from Paris

Half an Hour From Paris: 10 Secret Daytrips by Train” by Annabel Simms, author of the now-classic “An Hour from Paris”, written in the days when people had more time, is a great resource for locals who need a good excuse to escape Paris for the day, or for visitors looking to expand beyond the regular tourist haunts of the capital. As I write this on a particularly gray and chilly autumn day, I want to say that this would be a great book for the warmer days of spring, or to escape the suffocating heat of the city in the summer. But then I remember one of my favorite daytrips from Paris was on a snowy New Year’s Eve in 2016, when I took the RER up to Chantilly with a Parisian friend simply to enjoy the winter wonderland for the day (note to future self: wear actual winter clothing and snow-proof shoes next time).

You’d think Parisians would go on little daytrips outside the city all of the time, but most of us, like New Yorkers, don’t own cars, and if we did we would probably go further afield, like Brittany or the Loire Valley. But Annabel’s excellent book removes all of the silly excuses we give ourselves.

-        She gives us 10 daytrips to choose from and the best time to go

-        She explains exactly how to get there using public transportation (distance, time involved, whether you can get there using a Navigo pass, and how much -- as of printing -- the train ticket costs)

-        She gives a full guided tour of what to see in each location, the local tourism office, and even a few suggestions of where to eat

-        There are maps (for those who don’t rely on their smartphone) and plenty of photos to give you an idea of what you’ll be seeing on each daytrip

Annabel’s book is based on her own 20 years of experience exploring the countryside outside Paris, and it shows. If you’re still a little nervous, start off with the Château de Vincennes or the Parc de Bagatelle, two easy daytrips right outside Paris that are still surprisingly free of crowds, let alone tourists.

If you're in Paris, you can find "A Half An Hour from Paris" at most English bookshops, including my favorite, the Abbey Bookshop. And of course you can always purchase it online.


My Favorite French Cleaning Products

So in this month's newsletter I (half) jokingly mentioned that in a future newsletter I would share my French cleaning product tips. But after getting over a dozen emails asking for me to spill the beans NOW, here's the shortlist of products I wish I'd known about sooner. 

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An Update on Paris Street Art in the 13th 

It's been awhile since my last update of the latest street art in the 13th arrondissement, but there's always more being added! The 13th has an impressive number of street art murals from artists around the world thanks to support from the local Mayor Jérôme Coumet, who is keen to cover up some of the less interesting towers of the district with beautiful murals, and local galleries who regularly feature these artists in shows. Last week I visited the vernissage at the Galerie Mathgoth for the street artist Christian Guémy, aka "C215".

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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.

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