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David Downie

 Author David Downie speaks at yesterday's Après Midi

Like Janus -- Looking at the Past and the Future from the Same Point of View

Your taste of life in Paris and France
Parler Paris
Wednesday, October 12, 2011 • Paris, France

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Apres MidiDear Parler Paris Reader,

Yesterday’s “Parler Paris Après Midi” was one of the most attended, thanks to author David Downie’s talk about "Paris and the Nostalgia Business: Merging Past and Present in the City of Light."

The topic evoked quite a lot of emotion – as does the city from lovers of Paris such as you readers. David’s ‘Janus’ point of view – of both looking back (historically) as well as forward (the future) as related to the French and Parisians had us questioning the almost bi-polar personality of its inhabitants…who wish to hold on to the past while wanting to exist in the future. There was much commentary and debate and made for a fascinating afternoon.

To read all about it and see all the photos, visit

At the stroke of 5 p.m., many of the attendees of Après Midi headed over to the BNP Paribas headquarters in the 9th arrondissement to attend the Residential Property Investing Seminar. We arrived late about 1.5 hours after it had started in the midst of one speaker, but had the pleasure of being on time to hear Briton Simon Zutshi, a self-made financially independent professional property investor, who by the age of 32 had generated a passive-income multi-million pound (British sterling) property portfolio – enough to quit his job and start teaching others how to be as successful.

Simon ZutshiSimon was entertaining enough in his presentation style, but brilliant in his investment thinking and was well worth the price of admission (in this case, free!).  His words were so similar to the ones I preach…”using OPM (Other People’s Money),” “positive cash flow” and “maximizing rental potential” to name a few.

Simon was ‘a tough act to follow,’ as I was on next, presenting a look at the price of property in Paris and the Riviera over the last 20 years and then making educated guesses on what we can expect the future to bring. In agreement with Simon’s point of view – the future is virtually impossible to predict, so one must work with the present opportunities to pave the best way for the future. In my opinion – both Paris and the Riviera, particularly central Paris and central Nice, hold lots of promise as strong investment potential.

In tomorrow’s French Property Insider, subscribers will have an opportunity to download the PowerPoint presentation I made before an audience of about 50 in the auditorium at BNP Paribas. If you would like to see it and am not already a subscriber of FPI, then it’s easy and it’s free – every Thursday (50 issues a year) – just click here now: Newsletter Subscriptions

Friday I turn one year older, but will be one year less than one of those ‘big’ birthdays – the kind we hate to have, but celebrate in a big way. 

When I turned 30, I hated getting older, but celebrated it in Paris which made it much more palatable. Every year after that my birthday was celebrated here in Paris and has been every year since except for the year my father died (1987). Instead of a birthday, we attended a funeral. It was sadly memorable.

On my 40th birthday, it was more than palatable, and downright fun with friends from far and wide who came to Paris to celebrate with me. We had a huge dinner party at a restaurant in Neuilly-sur-Seine – only because I had booked it from the U.S. without a clue that it wasn’t central Paris! Friends brought a karaoke machine and sang silliness into a mic, stomping all over quiet French dining culture. It was lucky they didn’t throw us out on our ears.

Adrian and Kathy BurkeMy 50th birthday wasn’t so bad either – I celebrated with about 50 friends in my Paris apartment popping open bottles of champagne and dancing to exhaustion. American artist Kathy Burke sketched portraits everyone there on an accordion-folded paper that sits on the shelf to this day as a very fond memory.

In between, birthdays have been celebrated at my favorite Paris restaurants (such as Chez Omar, Les Fêtes Galantes, and others), or in my own home, but never without much ado.

This year, my niece and her husband from New York will be in Paris with me for the first time and lots of Parisian friends, many of whom are only here part of the year, like so many Americans who divide their time and their hearts between the two. And it’s not so bad to be a year older…not as long as I arrive there in my favorite city, with the people who are closest to me and feeling like I’m still 25…which I do. (Don’t we all?)

A la prochaine...

Adrian LeedsAdrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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