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Letters from Paris

The History behind "Letters from Paris"

Sharing experiences about life in Paris with the love of my life

Hands writting letter in PAris

When I moved here to marry the love of my life, I left behind many friends in the small town where I was living in Massachusetts. They kept asking me what life was like in Paris and how I was adjusting to it. As luck would have it, shortly after I left, some brave people in the town decided that the town needed its own newspaper and created “The Shirley Volunteer.” Being a small town where everybody knew each other, I knew the editor and called him to ask if they would like me to produce a weekly column about life in Paris. He said yes and so my wife and I took turns writing the “Letters from Paris'' column.

Solange, my wife, had taught English as a foreign language at a French university and wanted to write to maintain her English skills. We did that for about 12 years and stopped when the paper ceased publication because sadly they couldn’t raise enough revenue with advertising and subscriptions to meet their expenses.  But the newspaper published a book of the first two years and I saved copies of all the columns that were part of more than a decade's literary adventure.

 

Wondering what we could write about week after week? The “Letters from Paris” column was our shared experiences about living in Paris. It was new for me as an American who had visited before as a tourist and for Solange whose only Paris experience was when she was a student at la Sorbonne. Paris was pretty new to us, it was exciting and we could clearly see the differences between my life in the USA and Solange's life in Tunisia and remote areas of France, where she had lived most of her life.

I still remember the first Letter I wrote about going to a pharmacy to buy aspirin and unintentionally violating one of the unwritten rules of French behavior: You don’t tell the pharmacist which medicine you need, as I did. Instead you describe your symptoms, and the pharmacist then makes a recommendation.
This little anecdote made quite an impression on me, and I am pretty sure that others would find it amusing.

One of Solange’s favorite Letters pointed out that with the many statues of famous people in Paris, almost none of them were statues of women, which showed how "macho" France was (and is). Most statues of women are either a supplicant or a muse at the feet of a famous man. How would you react to this fact?

 

When I met with Pamela for the second time I thought she would enjoy reading the collection of letters and I handed over a thick folder with all the Letters we had written for so long. Pamela started reading them and scanning them until she got busy with other things, but she never forgot about them and recently, she asked me if I’d like to start a new chapter of "Letters from Paris" in a digital version this time.

I said that yes, of course I would. I like to write and like to share Paris with friends and create a community of people who also love this city as much as we do!

 

Some may be planning to come to Paris, or maybe they have been here already and are planning to return. Maybe they just feel happy remembering their experiences in the city .

Just like I did when writing the first version of "Letters from Paris" with Solange, I’ll be writing about whatever I find interesting, but since now I have become a Parisian too, I can't stop myself from giving advice to visitors who expect to live the most Parisian experience possible. I'll write about an event, an exhibit, a favorite restaurant, how to get around in the city, how to survive a French protest or how to join one, and on and on. There’s a lot to write about in Paris, but sharing means hearing from you as much as it means your reading what I write; therefore, I would be happy to have you join our community.

 

I hope you’ll come to Paris and that my Letters will be helpful during your stay.
If you want a guided tour, you should know that the rest of the StrollsParis team is eager to show you around. So you can always book a stroll and have one of the talented guides leading you around our beloved city. In the meantime, although my beloved Solange is no longer here to write with me, I’ll be carrying on with her memory which inspires my wanting to share our Paris with you.

 

A bientôt,

 

Eliot Goldman

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