The first time I met Linda Houliston, I left with sore stomach muscles. I say that in the best way possible –I was doubled over in laughter the entire evening and couldn’t catch my breath until we parted ways. This fellow Pennsylvanian is unquestionably funny and uses Paris as the impetus for her particular stripe of comedy. And it’s exactly her flair for storytelling (of all kinds) and humor that make her a natural tour guide.
Passionate about her adopted city and its storied past, Linda partnered with the equally as outgoing Tyler Arcaro and launched Oui Paris Tours, personalized group and private themed walking tours of Paris and Versailles. Within only a few months, their dynamic excursions were ranked in the top 10 on Trip Advisor and it’s easy to see why. Get to know one half of the Oui crew!
Describe what you love about France in three words.
Louis XIV, Pastry, Palaces
Something you've learned about yourself (or about life) as a result of living here?
Paris is such an amazing place to grow. Everybody has two lives: the one where they learn, and the one where they live. This city is often frustrating because it always makes you realize how little you know about everything. Where I grew up, if you didn’t have a tractor or dead deer in your house you were considered uncultured. But in Paris, you need to know about art, culture, music, film, literature, history, politics, food…in short, EVERYTHING. This city constantly keeps you on your feet and you have endless resources to learn more and more. It is an amazing classroom.
Favorite spots to take first-timers in Paris?
Paris Bootcamp! Being a first-timer guest with me is a test of physical and mental endurance because I walk you like we are training for the French Foreign Legion. We basically walk from dawn to dawn. I always take friends to the Eiffel Tower at sunrise because almost no one is there and you get a more intimate experience. I also love going bike riding at Versailles where I can pretend to be Louis XIV on the hunt! Of course my royal guests are members of my court. After all that, maybe I will let you sleep…maybe.
Words of advice for Francophiles looking to move abroad and settle in France?
It’s not easy. It’s like the Amazing Race. There are obstacles, language barriers, you have to run around everywhere, you’ll sweat and you’ll cry. However, if you win you are rewarded. You get a life time’s worth of French pastries and unlimited hours of café sitting in the most beautiful country in the world. But best advice I can give, call your local embassy until you talk to 5 different people because for some reason they always have different information on what you need. Then back that information up with what is on their website.
Most amusing or frustrating interaction with the French?
Ugh oh! Pandora’s box of Paris metro stories. It has so many levels of frustration and amusement for me. No one talks there! And if you do talk, Parisians go crazy! Like dolphins in a tank. Just sonar bouncing everywhere. People stare at you like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Metro line 1 basically has a booby trap door that closes on you and dislocates all your bones until the next stop. Châtelet is like the chaos of the sinking of the Titanic. And to the person who always sits down when the train is full: I am not shy about putting my bag in your face. Stand up!
Thanks, Linda! Be sure to contact Linda and Tyler for a tour on your next trip to Paris, fantastic time guaranteed.