Little Brown Pen – Rue Montorgueil
When Marsha Moore contacted me in April about her upcoming Paris guide book 24 Hours Paris, (note: To order 24 Hours Paris, click here), I was interested, but too busy to delve into it at the time. Little did I know, the timing could not have been more propitious. Not easily impressed by most travel guides, I had low expectations for 24 hours London, which I had on hand (thanks to Marsha’s generosity) for my first trip there in 8 years. Nevertheless I was rapidly wooed as Marsha successfully and succinctly helped me explore London’s cool, hip, lesser known areas and sites.
Paris, mind you, is another cup of tea (or should I say café au lait). My 17+ years here have me well acquainted with what the city has to offer, but I am always on the lookout for new things to do. Marsha’s 24 hours Paris truly digs into the depths of the city and unearths things that many a long term resident have yet to discover. Marsha even managed, along with mentioning many of my favorite Paris restaurants, shops, spots and events, to provide me with some new ideas and inspirations!
Encouraged and intrigued, I decided to interview Marsha to find out more about the woman behind the guides, the origins of her innovative concept and where she is planning on taking it all next!
Q: Why did you decide you wanted to write guide books?
When I first moved to London from Canada six years ago, there was so much to do here that it was a bit overwhelming. I’d read all the guide books and think: where should I start? So, along with Prospera Publishing, we started to think about a new kind of guide, a guide that would provide a kind of ready-made itinerary for activities around the clock – where you would only need to turn to the hour you were free, and just take your pick! That’s how the concept for the 24 Hours series began. We decided to start off with London since it’s where we were based, then move on to Paris since it’s such a popular tourist destination. We’ve had a great response so far!
Q: How would you say your guide sets itself apart from other more conventional city guides?
Traditional travel guides group their content by activity – shopping, drinking, etc. The 24 Hours series groups its content by time. It’s particularly useful during the nighttime hours, if you’re looking for something to do at 4 a.m., for example. Instead of flipping through a whole book to find a restaurant that’s open all night, you can quickly scan the 4 a.m. chapter. Also, we include lots of off-the-beaten-track activities for both locals and tourists – like anti-drawing classes or midnight movies – to help explorers take advantage of everything a city has to offer!
Q: What are your favorite things to do and see in Paris ?
I love the Promenade Plantée. It’s such a unique feeling – walking through trees and plants, even though you’re surrounded by buildings in the heart of the metropolis. The Bastille Artists’ Market is also one of my favorites, because I really like that you can talk to the artists directly and get some insight into their creative process. And as a writer, the Georges Brassens Market, where over 60 booksellers gather on the weekend, is paradise! If I can sneak one more in, the cruise on Canal St-Martin is also a great way to explore some of the more hidden parts of Paris.
Q: What are your top 3 restaurants in Paris for casual dining?
Tough question, because there are so many places! Whether you’ve just arrived in Paris or you’re on your way home, Chez Casimir close to the Gare du Nord is the perfect place to treat your taste-buds to the best of Breton. Restaurant Chartier is also a great place to soak up old-world ambiance: it’s been around for 100 years and most of the décor is unchanged. And finally, if you’re looking for a raucous (and very undignified) night out, try Le Refuge des Fondues where you can drink wine from baby bottles and get your fill of fondue. It’s tiny and you’ll be squeezed in like sardines, but you can’t help but have fun!
Q: If you had to advise a first-time visitor to Paris just one thing, what would it be?
Difficult question! For first-time visitors, one thing not to miss out on would be taking a cruise on the Seine. Paris is absolutely beautiful from the river, and whether you go all-out for a champagne cruise or opt for the river shuttle Voguéo, it’s something every visitor to Paris must do.
Q: For Parisians and Paris regulars what would you think to tell them to do in order to enhance their knowledge of the city?
For Parisians and Paris regulars, I’d advise them not to be afraid to venture off track. Much of Paris’s beauty lies in just wandering the streets of its different neighborhoods, from Belleville and beyond. Pick an area you haven’t been to and explore! Another great way to get to know the city is to get involved: there are so many activities you can participate in – from philosophy cafes to burlesque classes to rollerblading – each providing a different perspective on Paris.
Q: How would your describe the differences you see between Paris and London?
Paris is such a beautiful city that you can’t help but be stunned by how perfectly groomed it appears to be. It reminds me of entering my mother’s room as a child – you’re fascinated by everything but afraid to touch it unless you somehow mess it up. London is grayer, less appealing visually, and less ordered, but you feel somehow like you can dig in and get your hands dirty.
Q: Will you be doing other cities?
Definitely! Paris is the second in the series after London, and we are working on Sydney and New York next!
Q: You are also working on another project – The Hating Game. What is that about?
The Hating Game is my first novel, to be published by Prospera Publishing in early 2011 under my fiction pen name, Talli Roland. It has nothing to do with travel, but focuses on my other obsession: reality television (yes, I admit it!). It’s about a man-eating woman who agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business. What she doesn’t know is that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. The novel follows her as she confronts her past to try to win the prize money she so desperately needs.
Haven in Paris wishes lovely Marsha the very best in her publishing career!
(24 Hours Paris, £9.99, is available from www.prosperapublishing.co.uk, your favorite bookstore, or Amazon.)
Lisa Weatherbee is a New York based photographer and designer, currently eating and shooting her way through Paris. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.