I met the delightful, funny Janice Macleod for a coffee on the Ile St. Louis last month. Janice is the artist behind Painted Letters of Paris, a monthly illustrated letter subscription and the author of the Paris Letters, a real life fairy tale story about finding the love of her life and moving to Paris.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I grew up in Clear Creek, Ontario, Canada. A tiny village where the mailman was also the bus driver, the gas attendant and ran the general store. It sits on the north shore of Lake Erie.
When and why did you move to Paris?
I moved here in January 2012 because the previous year I fell in love with the lovely Christophe who worked at a butcher shop on rue Mouffetard, across from the café where I sat writing in my journal.
How did you get the idea for the Painted Letters of Paris?
During 2011, I was traveling around Europe. I carried a small set of watercolors and would paint along the way. I would write letters to my friends on the paintings and pop them in the mail. When I came to live in Paris, I kept painting these letters… or writing on these paintings… however you’d like to look at it. Eventually I realized I could copy these pieces of art and personalize each copy so more people would get fun mail. I opened a shop on Etsy and since then have sent over 10,000 letters.
So tell us the fairytale story about how you met your husband Christophe?
Remember that butcher I met? That’s the lovely Christophe. We started eyeing each other from across the cobblestone street. Eventually I approached him and introduced myself. I asked if he spoke English and he didn’t. My French was more than rusty. But we managed to piece together a few bits of conversation each day I walked up rue Mouffetard. One evening I saw him in a bar up the street. He bought me a drink and we kept piecing together conversations. It was difficult to not speak the same language, but we really just liked each other and both wanted to keep at it. We walked around Paris hand in hand and in relative silence a first. We slowly fell in love. We’ve been married for six months and together for three years. It’s been lovely to slowly piece together conversations.
Photo courtesy of Shawna Cameron
Are you more fluent in French or is Christophe more fluent in English?
Despite all my French language classes, I think Christophe may be more fluent in English at this point. He never took classes. He just has an ear for it. A common trait of Europeans. While I struggle through a podcast, he’s singing away to American rock songs. I wish I could learn as gracefully and as quickly as Christophe.
What are some of the cultural differences that Christophe doesn’t understand about Canada and you don’t about France?
I do not understand why in France you need to go to the Tabac to buy stamps to pay for your travel visa. He doesn’t understand why in Canada (or at least my province of Ontario) you can’t buy a bottle of wine just anywhere. You need to go to a special government-controlled store.
Where do you live and what do you like about your neighborhood?
I live on the old market street called rue Mouffetard. When I head out the door each morning I’m met with a flurry of Bonjours. I feel like Belle in Disney’s Beauty and The Beast. I am first in line for the freshest produce, the smelliest cheese and the warmest bread. It’s a dream.
What do you prefer about Paris?
The brilliant city planning. Each season has been thought through by a team of architects, gardeners and event planners. Spring offers trees in bloom. Summer offers festivals, concerts in the parks and a bustling outdoor café life. Autumn offers reds, golds and yellows in the parks… you don’t realize that trees were planted purposely for fall colors until you see them start to change. Amazing. And winter, with twinkle lights a-glow, adds magic to the holiday season. There is no bad time to come to Paris. Except August. Everything is closed.
Painted Letter of Paris: https://www.etsy.com/shop/JaniceArtShip?section_id=10996042&ref=shopsection_leftnav_1
Click here to order Paris Letters on Amazon
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Janice is having a book signing June 21 from 3:30PM-4:30PM at W.H. Smith, 248 rue de Rivoli, 75001 Metro: Concorde
New! Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes
I am happy to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Come take an ethnic culinary journey with me and chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, co-author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook (with Olivia Kiang-Snaije). First we will shop at a Paris green-market for the freshest ingredients and then return to Charlotte's professional kitchen near the Eiffel Tower to cook a three-course lunch. After, we will indulge in the delicious feast we prepared along with hand-selected wines.
Cost: 185 euros per person (about $240)
Time: 9:30AM- 2PM (approximately 4 1/2 hours)
Location: We will meet by a metro station close to the market
Class days: Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday,Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Minimum of 2 students, maximum 6 students.
Click here to sign up for the next class or for more info.
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.
Tours cost 210 euros for up to 3 people, and 70 euros for each additional person. 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
Click here to watch a video of our famous Marais tour