Paris, France

by Monica Kaufman Pearson

Paris: cosmopolitan, fashionable, chic, The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Moulin Rouge, Champs Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, Bastille, Notre-Dame and the list goes on and on.  It is the city of lights and the city of dreams. You may wonder, what is left for “A Toe in the Water” to explore.

Seeing Paris through the eyes of Ricki Stevenson is worth the trip. She is a former U.S.  TV anchor and reporter, who founded Black Paris Tours, www.blackparistour.com.

For some of the well-known tourist sites I mentioned, you will see, there is a connection to people of color, from entertainer, Josephine Baker, to abolitionists, William Wells Brown and Frederick Douglass, to singer Ray Charles, to all the great jazz musicians and the 369th Harlem Hellfighters.

This is a walking, bus, train, public transportation tour, so be sure you get a metrocard and you wear comfortable shoes. It is a money and timesaver card when getting around. Also have some euro because you will be going to some places where they don’t take credit cards.

The highlight of the tour is Little Africa.  You leave the train in the 18 arrondissments, walk down the stairs and walk into a country within a country.  African people from former French colonies live, work and trade here.  The women are dressed in traditional attire from Senegal, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Abidjan. etc. The open air markets are filled with fresh produce and meat, all kinds of stuff. There is haggling over prices, not in French but patois and dialects used back home.  The call to prayer at the mosque is haunting, as you sit down in a restaurant, this one Senegalese. You are transported from France to Africa, as food, drink, sights and sounds slip into your spirit.

But that is just one part of a daylong tour that highlights the contributions and visits by people of color to France. You see the statue of Alexandre Dumas, mainly known as the author of “The Count of Monte Cristo” and ”The Three Musketeers”. But most people don’t know he was black…his grandmother, a Haitian slave and his grandfather, French.

And across from his sculpture there are giant shackles. Our guide told us, this is the first large scale monument in Europe, acknowledging the involvement of France in the slave trade.

If you are a boxing fan, you’ll see where boxers such as Joe Louis, the Brown Bomber, once trained and where Bob Marley once played.

At the end of the day, you are seeing Paris in a very different light.

A word of warning:  White Americans be gracious..don’t be the so called “Ugly American”.  Yes, we liberated France but that is history. Please remember  to treat people as you would want to be treated. Speaking fluent French will help too or at least trying to speak French. But it is a different story for Black Americans. If you are fluent in French, know when and where to use it.  There is some ill-will towards immigrants, but when it is obvious, you are from the U.S., you are treated warmly. They feel you are helping the economy and not taking away from it.

So “ A Toe In The Water” says jump in with both feet and see Paris in a most unique way. Almost forgot, when you are on Ile Saint Louis, where Notre Dame is located, a must, ice cream from Berthillion.  Heavenly!!!!!!

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12 Responses to “Paris, France”

  1. Evelyn Hines-Forbes | September 4, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    Hi Ms. Kaufman,

    I absolutely love the idea of “A Toe in the Water”. My dream is to travel, but lack of funds contribute to it still being my dream. So I looked forward to travel vicariously through this site.

    I love the narratives about the places you’ve traveled, the tips given about each place are vital. However, I must say I think that more pictures are needed. When you told us about “Little Africa” I was ecstatic, but no pictures were available. :-(

    This is a great site, but I would suggest more pictures to go along with the places traveled.

    Evelyn Hines-Forbes

    • MonicaKPearson | September 27, 2012 at 1:10 am #

      Thank you for the honest assessment. Promise to take more pictures and I will try my hand at video a little later. Grad school has me grounded for now but I will take some short trips soon to add more to the page.

  2. Angie Mathews | September 5, 2012 at 3:23 am #

    I agree with Ms. Evelyn Hines-Forbes. I wanted to see pictures of Little Africa as well. Just knowing that a place like this exists within the confines of France is remarkable. It sounds quite colorful. So please, please get us some pictures asap.

    • MonicaKPearson | September 27, 2012 at 1:08 am #

      That is a regret, that I did not take pictures in Little Africa. I was overwhelmed by how I knew I was in Paris, but felt I was in Senegal. I have wonderful photos from our trip to China but that trip was before the website. Thinking about posting them after my midterm exams at UGA.

  3. Donna Lampkin | September 5, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

    I Just added you to our “cool blogger” pinterest board…keep it coming! :)

    • MonicaKPearson | September 27, 2012 at 1:04 am #

      Thank you so much. Can’t wait to get on the road again.

  4. Farsightneargo | September 18, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    I really am disappointed that I didn’t get to see this post on my initial visit. Congratulations on the page and perspectives.

    • MonicaKPearson | September 27, 2012 at 1:03 am #

      Thank you for your comment and your visit. More to come soon.

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  6. Dominic Elsea | September 26, 2012 at 2:30 am #

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    • MonicaKPearson | September 27, 2012 at 1:02 am #

      Your comment is so appreciated. I am in graduate school right now and can’t do much travel but The month long winter break will allow me to visit a few new spots.

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