Today we’re all about the Paris book love. Amy Thomas interviews bestselling author Eloisa James on her latest book, Paris in Love, a memoir of a year spent in Paris enjoying the good life. For a chance to win a copy of the book, leave us a note in the comments below! We’ll pick one lucky reader at random on May 31. ** Update: the contest is now closed. Thank you for commenting! **

Making Magique

’Tis the season for books about Paris. There are new non-fiction titles (Dreaming in French, French Kids Eat Everything), photography tomes (Paris in Color), cookbooks (La Petite Cuisine à Paris) and a slew of memoirs including Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down, A Family in Paris and the one I just devoured on my recent trip to the City of Light: Paris in Love by Eloisa James.

Having lived in Paris for nearly two years and written my own memoir, I’ve been giddily burning through these titles, alternately living vicariously, laughing out loud in empathy, and tearing up at the memories. Eloisa’s memoir was no different. A mélange of personal thoughts, family anecdotes, historic and cultural references, practical facts and general observations, delivered in a fun, self-deprecating voice, in short spurts of prose lifted largely from her Facebook and Twitter accounts, it’s hard not to fall for the lovely writer, her Italian husband, her two moody teens or her chubby Chihuahua, Milo.

Olof Grind

Partly what makes Eloisa so irresistible is her lack of pretense. A writing professor and best-selling author of romance novels (don’t miss the giveaway below!) who underwent a mastectomy to treat breast cancer, she sold her home, took a sabbatical from work and moved her family to the ninth arrondissement. During her year devoted to enjoying life’s everyday pleasures, she becomes hyperaware of seductive details everywhere, from the “dreamy dark pink” of a tote bag to Sacré-Coeur’s basilica covered by rows of “creamy scallops” to Paris mornings that are “moody, cool and empty.” It’s a book that reminds you of the best things about Paris: the kindness of strangers, those poignant feelings of magic and melancholy, and that food can fix things. Now back in the States, Eloisa took the time to respond to some questions, just for HiP.

Carin Olsson

Of all the places in the world you could have taken a sabbatical, why did you choose Paris?
I have always loved Paris. Growing up on a farm in Minnesota, I had a black-and-white etching of the city on my wall, and I lived in Paris during my junior year abroad. After being treated for cancer, when I realized that I wanted to run away from my normal life, Paris was an easy choice: I love the chocolate, the light on the Seine, the time — or rather, the lovely way that Parisians savor their days rather than dashing through them.

What were the favorite moments of your life in Paris?
Every day I would drop my daughter off in the Italian school, on one side of Paris, and walk home to the 9th, across the Seine. I loved that hour or so of walking, no matter the weather. Much of the book’s close descriptions come from those mornings.

Carin Olsson

The format of your book is really intriguing: that you reformatted concise Facebook and Twitter updates and created a strong, coherent narrative. Can you talk a little about the origins of the book: was that a conscious choice to write a book that way, or did it happen more organically?
One thing I knew when we left for Paris was that I had to bring home memories, not just as a series of snap-shots. My father, Robert Bly, is a poet, and when I was in elementary school, he was working on prose poems. Mastering a very short form of prose, even if my snippets have no comparison to his poetry, was an exercise in affection. I resisted turning it into a traditional travel narrative because I wanted this book to give readers the sense I had captured, of small but vivid pleasures.


How is Milo??
Milo, our very, very plump Chihuahua, who paid us a long visit in Paris, is doing just fine. He and my mother-in-law, Marina, live in Florence, Italy, where he is fed far too much prosciutto. During our year in Paris we all engaged in a fruitless attempt to slim Milo down. Alas, Marina called last week and confessed that he has gained weight again. At 26 pounds, that seems impossible! Milo will be ten years old this summer…. We’re not sure that he will live a very long life, but he is definitely living a very happy one!

What is one non-tangible thing you took home from your year in Paris?
Next time you’re in Paris, don’t spend all your time (or even much of your time) being a tourist. Sit in a café and watch the world passing by. Be joyful rather than learned.

“Be joyful rather than learned.” That is a quote for the books, mes amis!

For a chance to win Eloisa James’ wonderful new book, Paris in Love, leave us a note in the comments below! We’ll pick one lucky reader at random on May 31.

Related links:

  • Missed the giveaway? You can purchase Paris in Love here
  • Also be sure to check out Amy Thomas’ memoir, Paris my Sweet, here
  • Paris in Four Months, by our very own Carin Olsson, also beautifully captures the tiny moments that make us fall in love with Paris over and over again.

Written by Amy Thomas for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.


Amy Thomas

Amy Thomas is a sweets-obsessed writer based between New York and Paris. She published her best-selling “foodoir” (food writing meets memoir), Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate). This was followed up with the 2018 book Brooklyn in Love: A Memoir of Food, Family and Finding Yourself. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, T Magazine, New York Post, National Geographic Traveler, New York Magazine, Town & Country, Bust, Every Day with Rachel Ray and others.


  1. Hi,
    François Roland speaking 🙂 I’m French, native Parisian and writer of a new book called : “Being French! A Frenchman’s Guide to a More Sensual Life.”
    When I undertook the writing of this book from a Frenchman addressing Anglo-Saxon in their own language, I have been fascinated by the amount of books written about my country, my city, my French country fellows, and I must say that it was somewhat baffling that the immense majority of these books were due the pens of American women whether having married a French man whether having worked in France and having, as it happens, fallen in love with our delightful an intriguing country. I must say that I found the ones I read among these books often insightful, entertaining and witty. A French proverb says “Nul n’est prophète en son pays” (nobody is a prophet in his own country) and it certainly aligns with the fact that you’re much more proned to tell stories about what you are discovering than about what is your daily life ever since you where born.
    But nevertheless it’s exactly what I have done with “Being French!” The French way of envisioning seduction and sensual life is one of the topics I’ve seen addressed constantly in these American books on French life-style, and having a lot to say myself about the subject, I decided to give Anglo-Saxon people the view point of a true French insider on that fascinating French spirit in the matter.
    And of course since we are mostly dealing with Paris here, I have to say that “Being French!” don’t miss to bring something about my city, linked to the love and sex department 🙂

    Voilà. Just making you know that such a book exist 🙂 And all information about it can be found on my URL.

  2. Savoring days and lingering are my 2 favorite things about Paris. Sounds like a wonderful year.

  3. What a lovely interview. We recently came back from Paris baptizing our baby girl at the American Church of Paris after a long year at the nicu. That was our 2nd trip. Our 1st was our honeymoon. But I will always be in love with Paris. I would love to get away into Eloisa Jame’s world.

  4. I once had a “great escape” to Paris.
    I remember how I ached the first time I saw Delaroche’s painting of the Martyr. The therapeutic release of tears that brought forth the floodwaters of joy. Wet and warm and blissful. How does one compare an actual painting to a print or an image in a book? I discovered there was no comparison. None.
    Who knew that seeing the veins in the hands of the sculpture of Micheal Angelo’s “David” would surprise and overwhelm me in their detailed beauty and reflection of this artist’s every breath?
    This past summer I took my Sheepfarmer, 58, after his bout with colon cancer. He who had NEVER had a vacation in his life. I watched him sit down on the upholstered, white middle bench and become overwhelmed in joy and gratitude at the sight of Monet’s panels in the Orangerie. THIS is a moment I will NEVER forget. EVER.
    Dear, sweet, Paris…

  5. I´m just starting a major diet programme. I would love to win the book and dream of Paris while I´m starving myself! Love Anette

  6. They say our current life reflects our past deeds. I must have done something right many moons ago, because I finally found my seat at a cafe in Paris last summer. Ahh, the shimmering pink summer sunset, a chilled rose, and a nibble or two of rosemary scented olives and crisp, warm almonds. Pure joy. Thank you Ms. James for packing your beautiful memories into a book, can’t wait to read it. x

  7. I’ve been saving to move to Paris for the last year and I will finally be living my dream in 4 weeks! I have bought so many books on France and bookmarked a lot of French websites and blogs so I can take in as much information as I can before I arrive. I’d love to add this book to my growing collection!

  8. I love this blog and I know I will love the book as well! I have decided there is no such thing as “too much Paris.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *