Paris Insights

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

There's something about Paris that reaches inside you, grabs your heart, and won't let go. I, like millions of travelers, have a deep and abiding love for Paris. I am not sure if it is the food (probably), culture, language, people, diversity, or architecture, but Paris has a certain je ne sais quoi that draws travelers in.  Tom Reeves is one such traveler - he first traveled to France in 1975 and lived there for three years, pursuing a diploma in French language, literature, and civilization. He moved to Paris permanently in 1992, and has since shared his love of the French culture with travelers through Discover Paris! (a travel service focusing on cultural travel to Paris), Paris Insights (a book and newsletter - review to come!), and Paris Insights the blog, which is where I first found him, extolling some extraordinary Parisian Chocolates (see? HE KNOWS).

In fact, once you delve into Tom's work with Paris Insights, you'll be simultaneously reading the WHOLE site and planning your next trip to Paris. It's that inspiring.


Sacre Coeur from parc Turlure

Sacré-Coeur from Parc de la Turlure



WE: Please tell us about your site, Paris Insights...

TR: My Web site, Paris Insights, features five sections.  The first describes and promotes the three editions (full color, black-and-white, and electronic) of my book Paris Insights – An Anthology; the second, my monthly newsletter Paris Insights; the third, my weekly restaurant review; and the fourth, my Paris Insights blog.  The fifth section, entitled Media Café, is a section for journalists who wish to learn about me as the author of the book, as well as in-depth information about the book.



WE: What was the genesis of your site?

TR: I initially conceived of Paris Insights to promote my book, Paris Insights – An Anthology and my monthly newsletter Paris Insights.

The book is an anthology of articles I wrote that convey the spirit of Paris as I see it manifested in the city’s history, culture, and contemporary life.  It has received a number of favorable reviews, including nine five-star reviews on  Peter Greenberg, Travel Editor of CBS News, called it “the antidote to typical tourism hyperbole.”

To attract people to the site I added two free features, the weekly restaurant review and the bi-weekly blog.  Through my Paris Insights Facebook page, I have received favorable comments about the restaurant reviews and the blog.



WE: Everyone loves Paris - why do you think this is?

TR: For most travelers, Paris represents the embodiment of high culture, high fashion, sophistication, magnificent architecture, fine cuisine, fine art…the list goes on!  Many find it romantic, in part because of its spectacular river, the boats that ply the water, the walkways along the embankments, and the dramatic bridges that cross over.  Americans view the Parisian lifestyle as romantic:  the city’s hundreds of cafés and the casual way in which people linger over an espresso to watch the world go by; the way they stroll about on the streets; the outdoor markets and the possibility of buying fresh bread on just about every corner.  And then there is the French language, the sound of which many Americans find charming.  Paris has all this and more!


Tuilleries Garden pathway

Tuileries Garden pathway



WE: How can travelers best prepare for a visit to Paris?


•    Purchase 100€ in small bills (10s, 20s) before leaving the U.S. so that they immediately have access to local currency when they arrive.

•    Assuming that this fits their travel budget, choose at least a three-star hotel located in a centrally-located arrondissement (first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth). 

•    Study a good guide book.  My suggestion is the Michelin Green Guide Paris.

•    Plan an itinerary in advance, leaving a day or two for just wandering around.  Travelers who seek professional help with their itinerary planning might wish to fill out my travel-planning questionnaire at   I’ve been a Paris travel consultant for ten years.

•    Travelers should not try to see everything.  There just isn’t enough time.  Paris is best appreciated at a slow pace.

•    They should not plan to spend more than two hours a day in any museum.  Art burnout begins in the third hour!

•    If their budget permits it, they should plan to hire a guide for a private or small-group tour of a museum or a neighborhood.  There is so much fascinating information to learn from locals!

•    Pack a compact umbrella and carry it if the sky looks threatening.

•    Carry wallets in an inside, zipped coat pocket.  Keep purses zipped closed and under the arm.  Put passports in the hotel safe.  Don’t dangle expensive cameras from the shoulders.



WE: What are your favorite places in Paris (and why)?

TR: My favorite place is the narrow, winding cobblestone market street rue Mouffetard with its wine, cheese, bread, chocolate, and other food shops.  I like the fifth and sixth arrondissements because they are quite animated, and have a good mix of wide and narrow commercial and residential streets, and gardens and leafy squares.  I enjoy strolling around these areas, especially on summer evenings, when people are dining  on the sidewalk terraces of the restaurants and cafés.


cafe de la Mairie terrace

Terrace of the Café de la Mairie



WE: What tips do you have for communicating with the French?

TR: Smile and say “bonjour” to shopkeepers when entering small stores and boutiques; say “bonjour“ before asking directions of passersby on the street; don’t assume that the person who stops to help speaks English—ask whether he or she speaks English before asking questions.  Don’t speak louder when a French person doesn’t understand what is said the first time!



WE: What tips do you have for visiting Paris with kids?

TR: I don’t recommend traveling with infants or toddlers because these youngsters require so much attention.  I don’t see how the parent or child could get much out of the trip.  But there are lots of parks for bigger kids to play in.  There are also lots of activities for children at museums and science halls, although I believe that most of the information is in French only.  There are numerous Web sites that give advice and information about traveling to Paris with kids.  Just enter “paris with kids” into Google and see what comes up!



WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

TR: In writing my monthly newsletter Paris Insights, I strive to look beyond the stereotypes that many travelers hold about the City of Light.  I present lesser-known historical and cultural elements that make Paris such a fascinating city.

If your readers would like to receive a free, sample newsletter, they may send a request to me at info [at] parisinsights [dot] com.  In exchange, I will send them a newsletter and enter their names and e-mail addresses  onto my mailing list for future newsletter announcements.

There are so many interesting things to learn about Paris that  I think that my newsletter will appeal even to those who never plan to travel there!



WE: Thanks so very much, Tom - we highly recommend Paris Insights to our readers!


For more information, please see Paris Insights.


All photos courtesy and copyright Discover Paris!


Feature photo: Tom Reeves, Author of Paris Insights - An Anthology