I’ll confess that I’d be happy to avoid big cities when traveling. Smaller towns to me so often feel more humane, easily manageable and connected to the people of the community. With that said listening to a Rick Steve’s Program two weeks prior to running amock in France and England with 20 students in May I was introduced to Siobhan Wall and her books Quiet Paris and Quiet London. I had them shipped to me ASAP before leaving. What a relief her suggestions were in the hubbub of these gigantic urban centers of 2.2 and 8.3 million respectively.
Listing places of worship, bookshops, museums, gardens, cafes, pubs, galleries, shops, libraries and restaurants. Her suggested locations came across as authentic, local and sincere. Siobhan’s recommended shops were absent of trinkets of the Eiffel tower or Big Ben, and the restaurants she advised one to visit had good and interesting food without large televisions blaring on the wall. I never felt she steered me wrong. The only thing I wish she had was maps her books so I could of easily found what suggested places were close to other locations.
In Paris I had a very adventurous group of students with me that traipsed all over the map to Siobhan Wall’s suggestions: a bustling ramshackle bookstore (Shakespeare and Co), a great store of vintage tchotchkes in a hoot of a neighborhood (Au Petit Bonheur La Chance), a shop where all the goods were made by nuns and monks (Artisanat Monastique), a delightful hand made ceramic studio in a beautiful neighborhood (La Tuile a Loup), and an extraordinary stationary store (Ecritore). We attempted to end our adventurous day with a restaurant Siobhan suggested, L’Estaminet des Enfants Rouges.
Roaming the streets looking for the address the students saw a brasserie ending in “Enfants Rouges” and dove in saying, “This is it!” our feet weary from our day of walking ten miles all over Paris. As I looked around at the T.V.s and drone of blaring music, I said “This can’t be it, Siobhan would never list a place like this!” I darted outside but still couldn’t find the placed she listed, and desperate for food we simply ate. Once done, I told the students, “There is a really interesting indoor farmers market next door, we should go over and check that out.” We did, only to find it closing and the pub of our longings in the back corner. Darn it…. Well, next time I’m in Paris I’ll know where I’m going.
Pick up the books – they’re a wonderful breath of fresh air. She also has one for Amsterdam and New York, let’s just say if going to those locations two books will be added to my library.