About three months ago I received an email with a most unusual request: A woman named Catherine Jones from High Point, North Carolina wanted to know if I would take her and her girl scout troop of seven girls aged 15-21 on a tour and also find out details on how I could I become their best friend in Paris. With such a charming and warm request, I enthusiastically said yes, and I knew this would be a fun and rewarding experience. Of course the first thing I said was that in order for a girl scout troop to be my best friend, they would have to bring me at least a few boxes of their amazing cookies.
Since then I told all my friends and even clients about how excited I was about this special tour and couldn’t wait to meet them. In the interim, I thought this would make a wonderful and endearing human-interest story for a magazine or newspaper. One of my former clients from Washington D.C., Gayle Osterberg, who has her own PR and marketing company, was so impressed with my tours, she kindly offered to help me market them whenever I wanted. I emailed her my idea and she agreed it would make a good story. She generously took the time from her busy schedule to write a media alert and even advised me on what publications to target. Unfortunately, I didn’t receive any replies from them but I think I could now send it out.
The magic day arrived last Wednesday. I decided to do two very different tours on Wednesday and Thursday, to give the girls a full experience. On Wednesday we met for my classic Marais tour in front of the St. Paul metro station, and when I arrived they were just finishing spelling out my name on individual pages of a Russian newspaper, with one letter on each page. I already knew I was in for a wonderful ride. It was a gorgeous, warm perfect sunny day. First, I wowed them with the two gorgeous hotel particuler's (former private mansions) and a charming private courtyard in a 17th century building. Next we visited the mid-east gourmet shop Izrael with its intoxicating aromas of exotic, dried & glazed fruit, fresh olives, spices, and large variety of smoked fish.
As always, there was a stop at a patisserie and I took them to my favorite one in the Marais and one of the best in Paris, Gerard Mulot. We all indulged a delish sweet treat. Speaking of treats, I ended the tour with a visit to the new Valentino retrospective, as I wanted to show them something about Paris fashion. A stellar show of his greatest creations, worn by Princess Grace, Julia Roberts, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the girls were enamored with the gorgeous gowns and fantasy dresses decorating two floors of the Musee de Decoratifs.
Afterwards they very quickly said goodbye, and I could see they were so inspired by the show that they were chomping at the bit to go clothes shopping. Catherine hauled out a black nylon bag with the cookies, and I said that it would be her fault if I didn’t show up for the tour tomorrow because I would probably be in a sugar coma from eating all five boxes.
Can't Get Enough of These Sweet Treats
Thursday morning we met at the Richard Lenoir food market by the Bastille. We were supposed to buy food for a picnic but the purses, scarves, soaps, and other no-food items for sale distracted the girls. At one point, I had to do a shopping intervention and in a stern husband/father like way, warned them that they only had five minutes left to wrap up the shopping. We bought a selection of cheeses, baguettes, country bread, salami, and prosciutto. I was concerned that we didn’t have a knife to cut the cheese, and Catherine gave me this are-you-kidding- me look and pulled out of her pocket an impressive portable knife, saying it’s one of the first things a girls scout is required to have.(I vaguely remembered their motto “Always be prepared”- especially with a knife to cut cheese with on a Parisian picnic).
We brought our delicious goodies to the Promenade Plantee, a lush three-mile long park built on an abandoned railroad track behind the Bastille Opera house. We admired the beautiful summer blooms and ornate Haussmann style buildings up close. Parking ourselves on two benches, Catherine expertly cut the bread and cheese like a nourishing mother while Audrey doled out the salami and proscuitto. We laughed and carried on about the pleasures of Paris and I asked all the girls what they were doing the rest of the summer. They were leaving the next day after a week in Paris and Switzerland, and I warned them they would suffer the great Paris withdrawal blues when they returned home. I shared with them that even though I loved my life in Paris and had no intentions of moving back to the U.S., they were a supreme example of the unique openness and friendliness Americans have that I miss sometimes. We took our last group photo, one of many, and then I hugged everyone goodbye with a tinge of sadness, as I knew I would miss them.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart Catherine, Audrey, Madeline, Abby, Mary Rose, Stephanie, Kara, Megan, and Jamie for one of the most fun and memorable tours I’ve ever done. And yes, we are definitely BFF’s (their abbreviation for best friends forever).
I would greatly appreciate it if anyone has any leads or knows someone at magazine or newspaper I could pitch this inspiring story to. Catherine also sent me information on how the girls worked their bums off (her words) to raise the money for the trip with fundraising events like cookie sales, yard sales, car washes, spring flower/herb sale, etc., which adds to their heartwarming story.
I am pleased as punch to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Tours, which are 3-hour walking tours I will personally be leading. The Eye Prefer Paris Tour
includes many of the places I have written about such as small museums & galleries, restaurants, cafes & food markets, secret addresses, fashion & home boutiques, parks, and much more.
I look forward to meeting you on my tours and it will be my pleasure and delight to show you my insiders Paris.
Check it out at www.eyepreferparistours.com