Paris’ Most Well-Known American
adrianleeds.com/archives/paris-most-well-known-american) — it was the first day of a new life for Parler Paris when I went independent and on-my-own after writing for years for another publisher. And now after almost ten years, little has changed — the story told then is the same story now, but with a few updates. Add ten years to the equation, count 50 to 70 guests during the colder months and up to 120 in the warmer season when dinner guests can mingle in the courtyard, but otherwise, the story is status quo.Jim Haynes is likely the most famous American in Paris. I wrote about him in Parler Paris as long ago as October 1, 2004 (
Jim stood before our attendees at the Parler Paris Après Midi coffee gathering and started off with a recount of his life, long before he began the Sunday Dinners in his 14th arrondissement apartment. He told a tale of synchronistic events from his childhood onward that led him into lucky situations — although there is no question that his own “chutzpah”* (as he described it) and what we interpreted as an immensely generous spirit had much to do with creating his luck.
*For those of you who don’t know what “chutzpah” is, it’s a Yiddish word that means “audacity.” Of course, when it comes to Yiddish, however, one word is more than a simple meaning — it represents a whole host of cultural aspects. Yes, I’d have to agree — Jim is audacious, but in the best sense of the word.
Jim’s had a formidable life, the kind good memoirs are made of, from Louisiana to Venezuela to Atlanta to Edinburgh to London and on to Paris. His accomplishments are many, including as proprietor of a successful paperback bookstore, having published several books, producer of hundreds of theater productions, professorships and of course, the Sunday dinners “chez lui” in Paris, for which he is most well known.
Jim’s been written about by such illustrious journals as the New York Times and the Guardian, is listed in Lonely Planet as a great thing to do in Paris and is discussed in Trip Advisor’s and Fodor’s online forums. National Public Radio (NPR) broadcast an interview with him, has been written about in airline magazines and just about every blogger talking about Paris…including me. And to top it all off, he was the focus of a commercial for After Eight chocolates!
Read the post from October 1, 2004:
The other evening, I bumped into Paris’ most well-known American not far from his own apartment, an atelier now known by over 100,000 guests he’s had the pleasure of hosting for dinner. It was a particularly “synchronistic” path-crossing, since for some reason his name had been on many tongues that week, for no real apparent reason. So, I just assumed we were meant to collide and within seconds we were at the corner café sipping on frothy “crèmes.”
Jim Haynes has likely told his story hundreds of times, but it’s ceaselessly fascinating and manages to consistently attract 60 to 70 people, virtually 50/50 men to women ratio, every single Sunday evening for a drink, a buffet dinner and a serious mingling with a “mélange” of 1/3 French, 1/3 Anglophones, 1/3 other. The only time he shuts down is for three weeks in August — he’s there over Christmas, New Year’s and every other holiday without a rest.
The woman who started the whole kit and caboodle 27 years ago is still living here in Paris and occasionally comes to help cook. At the time, she was a house guest at Jim’s itching to show off her culinary talents, so he invited a few friends, she served up her dishes and Jim Haynes’ Sunday Night Soirées began. Now, all these years later, he fondly takes responsibility for dozens of love affairs and marriages resulting from the Sunday mixers.
Jim’s been living in Paris 35 years, but lived in several other European cities before catching the Paris bug and settling here. He’s worn many hats, been both entrepreneurial and employable and is now retired and loving it, although he confesses to still loading himself up with new and interesting projects.
He lucked into his three-level “villa” apartment that was a sculpture’s atelier reputedly once owned by Matisse, for the first two years as a rental and then with the opportunity to buy it. A “villa” is a pedestrian path that leads to a row of apartments and houses. There aren’t very many in Paris, but they are usually very special jewels off the beaten tracks. This fits the description — with an entrance on rue de la Tombe Issoire in the 14th, just off rue d’Alésia, the first area of Paris to be touched by the “Quartiers Verts” program.
When the landlord told him they wanted to sell the apartment thirty three years ago, Jim did just what I did when the same thing happened to me — panicked over the thought of moving and did all he could do to gather up the $30,000 to buy the apartment. No regrets — the apartment is worth 20 times that today, a rate of appreciation of 10% per year on the average! ‘Course, he has no plans of selling, so don’t bother asking.
parissoirees.com/) for more than 15 years, has been a friendly competitor of Jim’s dinners. She commended Jim yesterday for his openness and generosity. They both agreed how important the networking meetings have been to Expats in Paris — and now in other parts of the world where others have taken their lead. Both can claim to have been the catalysts for many romances and marriages, business partnerships and dealings, not to mention many thousands of friendships. Well over 130,000 people have attended Jim’s dinners…some super regulars (never missing a Sunday), some regular regulars (a couple times a month), some occasional regulars (a few times a year) and then, the visitors who drop in just to see what it’s all about.Patricia Laplante Collins, who has run her own successful Sunday night Soirée (
To secure your spot in advance, send a message using the form on this page: jim-haynes.com/, write a letter: Jim Haynes, atelier A-2, 83, rue de la Tombe Issoire 75014 Paris France or phone +33 (0) 188.8.131.52.67.
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris & Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC
P.S. Don’t miss House Hunters International on January 18 at 11:30 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. ET/PT for “La Vie en Paris, France.” After transferring to Paris for her dream job five years ago, Abby Gordon was ready to purchase an apartment to call her own. We helped her search for the perfect Paris property market to suit her style and budget.