Today’s guest is Lane Rosenthal from Paris Off Script. Lane runs her own small-group tours several times a year in Paris, with the intent of showing her guests a unique side of the city not everyone has the chance to experience.
I’m SO excited to chat with Lane today about one of my favorite (if not all time favorite!) cities in the world. I have had a bit of an obsession with France in general for quite some time and have had the opportunity to visit Paris and some of the countryside on my two visits there.
Paris is unique in that you think about it loooong after you’ve left. And I feel it’s either a place you can’t stop thinking about, or a place you don’t understand what all the fuss is about.
So, let’s get in here with Lane and have her talk a little bit about why she began Paris Off Script and give an introduction!
I’d love to hear about your first experience in Paris. I don’t think it’s possible to land in the city and not feel...something. And I love to hear people’s gut reaction to Paris. Did you arrive and just immediately know this was a place you HAD to get to know inside and out?
Lane: It was what I call…love at first sight. It was incredible, I will never forget the first time I saw Paris.
It was almost a shock, I didn’t know what hit me, what chord it struck inside me.
It took me a long time in my life to get there, I did not go during college, I was a poor graduate student, and after that I was married and I had a career, I had a family and life marched on. So, it was a big birthday that got me there for the first time.
There are SO many ways to experience the city, and in fact, I think you could go back endless times and have a completely different experience each time. What you are hoping each of your guests can experience on your tours? And are there certain spots, neighborhoods, patisseries, and cafes you take each of your groups to?
Lane: It’s a matter of perspective. To me, Paris is like an onion with a ton of different layers and it’s a city we can never quite get our arms around. It’s whatever we need it to be; if we are in love, it’s the most romantic city in the world, if we are looking for inspiration, there is creativity everywhere.
And if we need to be alone, it provides solitude without isolation.
I know you do something different on each of your tours, and they seem to be based on what’s going on in the city during that season. How do you make each of these tours special and give a good taste of the city during each season?
Lane: I always arrive well in advance of a trip. I belong to organizations…the library, the museums…but the other thing that makes my trips special is that I have developed relationships with local people.
People get a dose of authenticity, or reality, and it makes it special.
There are, of course, the cookie cutter tours of Paris. There will always be the must-sees in the city like The Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. But, why is it important to you to show a different side of Paris?
Lane: I see travel as cultural engagement rather than tourism. Particularly where there are opportunities for that engagement. I have an insatiable curiosity and I think travel is an opportunity to broaden your perspective, and to break stereotypes.
It’s important for me to offer people this service, this opportunity, this experience.
There are lots of trips as travel for tourism, there are fewer for cultural engagement.
You do each of your tours in the off-season, presumably so your guests can experience Paris without the masses of visitors. Do you have an absolutely favorite time of the year in the city, or a favorite event that you feel really embodies Parisian life and history?
Lane: One of the most fascinating things about Paris, is that it was not bombed during World War 2. It is intact, and it’s an old city. It’s over 2,000 years old. The sense of walking in the footsteps of our forebears, and standing on the shoulders of those forebears.
There is a story on every corner.
In April, if you time it just right, you get to see the Japanese cherry blossoms, and the wisteria is achingly beautiful. And actually, it was last February that sticks in my mind. I was there for the month. When it snowed at the beginning of the month, it felt like we were all in our own little snow globe, it was wonderful.
There are certainly elements of every trip that make it unique and special. Whether it’s exploring the local markets, or a specific dish that will change your life, there are always those things during a trip which you’ll remember. What do you think are the essential pieces of a great experience in Paris?
Lane: It’s an open mind.
Go with an open mind, adopt the habits of the country.
And also, remember that you are a guest in someone’s country, just like you’re a guest in someone’s house. The French are actually unfailingly polite. And I think if you remember your manners, and go with an open mind and sense of humor, you’ll have a great time.
I am always on the lookout for the best bakeries in Paris. I know it’s hard to choose just one! Do you have an absolute favorite patisserie, or a few you make a point to stop into?
Lane: Au Petit Versailles du Marais, in the 4th arrondissement. It’s my absolute delight to stop there for a little something…after yoga. They have been designated a Meilleur Ouvrier de France, a very prestigious award, given every 4 years and for life. It’s an indication of an extremely high level of craftsmanship.
It’s such an incredible experience to have the opportunity to speak with someone who genuinely loves a city and has resolved to show other people that specific corner of the world.
Thanks so much for listening to our Saturday Session with Lane from Paris Off Script and we will see ya on the next one!
“I revel in a different rhythm when I’m in Paris”