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Paris in Words

It’s a pretty safe bet that all of you reading Parler Paris are travelers…and if not one who packs a bag, puts your passport in your wallet and heads for the airport, train station or car rental agency, you travel from your armchair by reading guide books, looking at photo essays and watching TV and film travelogues. If you are the active traveler, then it would be virtually impossible for you to make your way in this vast world of ours without reading up on where the road will take you.

Mon Dieu! Look at how many books are written every year about Paris alone! A search in Amazon.com brings up 13,684 results for the word “Paris” in the title. And there is no telling how many articles each year appear in magazines, newspapers and Web sites. A search in Google pulls up 223,000,000 Web sites for the words “Paris France” (qualifying the search to eliminate Paris, Texas; Paris, Tennessee and any other Paris that isn’t THIS Paris!). Many of the sites include volumes of information on the city meant to direct Paris visitors to the best restaurants, interesting things to do and see, and a myriad of other facets of the city.

And somebody had to write all those words. Those somebodies are largely people who we would term “travel writers.” Everyone wants to be a travel writer. It sounds so glamorous…to have the ability to travel, reflect, express yourself and get paid doing it!

In 2002, in coordination with the American Writers and Artists Institute, my Parler Paris team and I spearheaded the first “Travel Writers Workshop” here in Paris based on the brilliantly written “The Ultimate Travel Writer’s Course” by Jennifer Stevens. Jen came to Paris to teach the course, brought her best instructors with her and now, four years later, the course takes place all over the world — this year including workshops in Paris, Greece, and Bermuda. And regardless of how you feel about some of the “come-on” rhetoric, such as “Discover the Secrets to Traveling the World for Free…and Getting Paid as a Travel Writer”…the truth is that many writers do enjoy and profit from their efforts in this genre of literature.

(See http://www.thetravelwriterslife.com/paris/ for information on the workshop coming up this July 20-23, 2006 in Denver, Colorado and for general information visit http://www.thetravelwriterslife.com)

This month, Sylvia Beach Whitman of Shakespeare & Company is organizing another literary festival of note, this time with the theme of Travel Writing. It is expected to be a long weekend of “fun, good readings, heated discussions and a little wine by the Seine.”

“Travel in Words: A Four-Day Literary Celebration” takes place June 15th to 18th here in Paris in a marquee in the Réné Vivaldi Park next to the bookshop as 27 of the best travel writers of their generation share their passion and their art: Celia Brayfield. Stephen Clarke, William Dalrymple, Geoff Dyer, Andrew Eames, Jason Elliot, Noel Riley Fitch, Janine di Giovanni, Charles Glass, Shusha Guppy, Tony Hawks, Lucinda Holdforth, Ian Jack, Brigid Keenan, Barry Lopez, Jonathan Lorie, Rory Maclean, Andreï Makine, Nick Middleton, Dervla Murphy, Ruth Padel, Tim Parks, Jon Ronson, Barnaby Rogerson, Anthony Sattin, Elizabeth Speller and Thirza Vallois.

In a recent communiqué from Ms. Whitman, she describes the upcoming readings by Tony Hawks to be amusing: ” He will make you laugh out loud reading extracts from his latest ‘A Piano in the Pyrenees.'” Stephen Clarke will be talking from “Merde Actually.” Cult writer Geoff Dyer will give a talk on “Travel Writing: A Form of Goodbye.” And Jon Ronson will discuss his book “Them: Adventures with extremists.” Colin Thubron, one of the best travel writers of his generation, will read extracts on his new work “Shadow of the Silk Road” to be published this summer.

Don’t worry, women writers will have their day, too. One of Europe’s most respected and experienced reporters, Janine di Giovanni, will read from her essays and Dervla Murphy will be taking time off one of her epic bicycle tours to join a panel discussion with Ian Jack,
editor of Granta Magazine, on the nature of travel writing.

All the events are free except for one, but well worth the price of admission (40 euros): Lucinda Holdforth on “True Pleasures: A Memoir of Women in Paris” takes place on Friday, June 16th at 8 p.m. in the wine bar at Atelier Maître Albert. Lucinda will hold the discussion of her book over wine and hors d’œuvres at La Guy Savoy…an opportunity to “meet” the dazzling women of Paris: from Colette to Nancy Mitford, Marie Antoinette to Coco Chanel, Napoleon’s j2999ephine to Edith Wharton. Rule breakers and style setters, these women were utterly diverse, yet they shared one common passion -— Paris, the world’s headquarters of femininity. The tickets are limited and a reservation is required. To reserve, email Jemma Birrell at [email protected]. Checks can be addressed to “Shakespeare and Company Festival Littéraire” and mailed to Shakespeare & Company, 37, rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris.

For more information about the festival, visit the site at http://www.shakespeareco.org/events.htm or the Parler Paris Previews Community Calendar at /parlerparis/calendar.html

A la prochaine…


Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
Email [email protected]

P.S. Don’t forget to mark your calendars for next Tuesday’s Parler Paris Après Midi gathering from 3 to 5 p.m. at La Pierre du Marais. Visit /parlerparis/apresmidi.html for more information

P.P.S. Ready for rental!…July 21 – 30, 2006, my Marais apartment will be available for rent in its entirety (while I’m in the Tuscan sun) and the new studio “Le Provençal” will be ready for rental from August! For more information, visit /parlerparis/apartments or email [email protected]

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