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Paris Par Hasard: View from an Ex-Pat

From Bagels to Brioches 
Terrance Gelenter is a passionate marketer with a generous spirit, who has turned his love affair with Paris into an experience accessible to everyone through his website, speakers programs and travel planning business, Paris Through Expatriate Eyes. Most recently I ran into Terrance in Mill Valley, California, where he was signing his new book, From Bagels to Brioches: Paris Par Hasard, a semi-memoir, semi-travelogue tale of how and why he made Paris his own.

To be sure, Terrance gets around, a true Paris flaneur. With the force of his personality and his engaging style, he is quite a resource on some of the most authentic and appealing Paris haunts -- and he shares all this with friends and visitors to the City of Light through his website and programs. I particularly like his recommendations for bistros and other dining spots. For many years Terrance has held court among Francophiles in the San Francisco area, providing wine gatherings, lectures and other social and cultural events to bring together the area's many French-speaking and French-loving people. Now he's fully ensconced in Paris, and although I've never participated in his tours or programs there, I can vouch for his recommendations based on my own 30 years visiting and, for a time, living in France.

Among Terrance's favorite destinations -- and mine -- is the St. Germain des Pres quarter on the Left Bank. IMG_3282 This is the one place I always return for coffee at the Cafe Flore, lunch or dinner at Fish la Boissonnerie wine tasting at La Derniere Goutte and oysters IMG_3283 at L'Atlas. IMG_3293 Within a few blocks of each other, these lively and colorful spots draw Parisians as well as visitors, and you can stroll without spending a euro (of course that's hard to do because the temptations are so great!) and yet have a full day or evening of entertainment.

A good place to start in 6th Arrondissement is at the intersection of Carrefour de Buci, with narrow streets providing a IMG_3304 IMG_3305 bustling collection of outdoor cafes, oyster bars, art galleries and flower stalls. It's a place to stroll, eat and sip wine or cafe. The shopping along these particular blocks, except for the art galleries, is fairly touristy, though. (More sophisticated and unique shopping is available a few blocks in the other direction, still in the 6th, but accross Boulevard St-Germain.) One of the best historical and cultural guides to this Left Bank area (and the rest of the city) is Thirza Vallois' Around and About Paris book series. Her insider's view of all the arrondissements transforms walking -- which is the only way to get around the heart of Paris -- into an educated adventure.