On April 20, I boarded an Air France flight to Los Angeles, the first stop on a 16-day book tour that would connect me with bookstores, book lovers, and, most importantly, passionate Francophiles in California, Chicago, Pennsylvania, and New York. As I flew back to Paris, eager to vote, on the final flight out of JFK last Friday evening, I thought only of how I would manage to assimilate the experience. How could I condense and accurately capture the overwhelming emotions of the last two weeks?
Bringing “The New Paris” out into the world was entirely foreign to me, both in process and sensation. Much of researching and writing the book was so solitary that I was taken aback by the unadulterated joy I felt upon receiving early feedback. All those galling moments of self-doubt, the waiting, the planning, the many nights of fitful sleep, the list-making, become nary a consideration when you’re finally presented with a stack of your own work and avid readers waiting to discover it. Though some might find the comparison to pregnancy and birth a bit hyperbolic (and I can’t speak from experience), the visceral response is one of amazement and bewilderment. Did I produce that? Were those my words? Did I put the tiny, laborious pieces together, myself? How?
On publication date, April 18, I expected to feel like a slightly different version of myself but what I actually felt was impatience. I had to ready myself for my first big audience that very evening at the book’s launch, hosted at L’Appartement Sézane (see the Shopping & Crafts chapter!), and I was eager to know what the people featured in the book would feel upon seeing the final product. Most had never seen a layout nor knew what elements of their lives and careers I chose to include.
“This is such a gift to the city”, said Chantal, the jewelry designer behind La Tonkinoise. What I quickly learned, beginning that evening in Paris and with every subsequent stop along the tour, was that her sentiment was shared by many.
From there, there is nothing quite so simultaneously strange and exhilarating as meeting people who follow your work (I’m just a lady behind a computer screen!) and want to know more about my journey, or seeing my books on well-stocked shelves at places like Three Lives in NYC, Book Passage in SF, or Shakespeare & Co in Paris. And I will never forget my timid offer to sign copies of the book at Book Soup in Los Angeles. Authors are encouraged to sign copies if they happen to be in a bookstore that carries it but no one tells you how to approach that conversation. But in each city and each bookstore, the booksellers eyes lit up when I said I wrote a book that they stocked. I was among friends – readers! Possibly writers! – and they reminded me to soak in the accomplishment.
I jumped from Soho House in LA, to Book Passage in San Francisco, then onto Read It and Eat in Chicago, Temple University, Barnes & Noble and Menagerie Coffee in Philadelphia and Jamini (pop-up) and Rizzoli Bookstore in NYC before returning back to Paris to see Emmanuel Macron elected President (soulagement total) and giving a talk at The American Library in Paris in conversation with a woman I so admire, author Lauren Collins. After each event, I felt energized and inspired by the audience who are as visibly smitten with Paris (in all its forms) as I am. Despite the anxiety of speaking in front of anywhere between thirty to over one hundred people, I know that I am among friends.
But what moved me the most — or rather I should say stunned me — was the distance some people traveled to attend the visits and meet me: one duo from Toronto, another from St. Louis. They came not only to talk about the book but to talk about how my trajectory from Philadelphia to Paris, a great deal of which has been shared on this blog over the years, had inspired them. If I have been a resource to even a handful of people or have comforted people in the decision to pursue the wildest of passions, then I feel I have accomplished something truly valuable.
Thank you to everyone who attended these unforgettable events (and perhaps who will attends events in the future! I hope to get back to the US later this year so stay tuned!) and bought the book. You are forever connected to this monumental moment in my life.
EXPERIENCE ‘THE NEW PARIS’ WITH AIR FRANCE
It’s one thing to read about the changes and creative energy I speak about in the book but it’s another to experience them firsthand. I’m thrilled to join forces with Air France to offer 2 economy class round-trip tickets to Paris! That’s definitely the most epic prize I have ever been able to give away in the 8 years of running this site.
The sweepstakes also includes a personalized itinerary that I have put together, with goodies and experiences generously donated by Hotel Providence, La Fontaine de Belleville, The Beast, SeptCinq, and Jamini! Plus I’ll be there to meet you in person to chat about Paris.
This sweepstakes is currently only open to U.S. residents (désolée, foreign friends!) and closes May 17. TO ENTER, CLICK HERE.