Thursday, April 30, 2020

Paris and Gigi Pandian

Continuing with responses from friends who love Paris as much as I do.

When I asked Gigi Pandian what she missed most, or what she might want to do when first returning to Paris, she said - 

"Where to begin about what I love most about Paris? As someone who’s always been drawn to mystery and history (not to mention good food), Paris is heaven.

I love how old and new exist side by side: modern art next to ancient cathedrals, museums next to nightclubs, and layers of history in the catacombs beneath the modern city. 

When wandering through the city, there are countless secret alleys and courtyards to explore. And of course an abundance of cafes for leisurely breaks, both for sustenance and people-watching.

My high school French works well enough for Parisians to know I’m at least making an effort, and I’ve always had positive interactions with the people I’ve met. My challenge is that as soon as someone answers me in rapid French, I have to ask them to speak more slowly!

It was the gargoyles of Paris that first captured my imagination. I was lucky enough to visit Paris as a teenager, on one of my professor mom’s summer research trips to Europe. On each return trip, I would climb the steps of Notre Dame to visit the gallery of gargoyles who watch over the city. I hope I’ll be able to do so again one day.

When I became a writer, I didn’t think I’d end up writing about the gargoyles of Paris. But the character of Dorian Robert-Houdin, a gargoyle who was originally carved in stone for Notre Dame before being accidentally brought to life through alchemy, sprung from the page and there’s been no stopping him. (Um… yes, I might be one of those authors who listens to my characters as if they’re real people.)

My imagination keeps pulling me back to Paris in my fiction. The Lost Gargoyle of Paris, an ebook novella set after the tragic fire at Notre Dame, came out just last month.

I also took my characters to Paris in The Elusive Elixir: An Accidental Alchemist Mystery, and Quicksand: A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery. The treasure hunt in Paris and Mont St. Michel was inspired by the time I was trapped in the Louvre during a real-life art heist. But that’s another story!"

USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning author Gigi Pandian is the child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico and the southern tip of India. She spent her childhood traveling around the world on their research trips, and now lives outside San Francisco with her husband and a gargoyle who watches over the garden.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Paris and Grace Koshida

Continuing with responses from friends who love Paris as much as I do.

When I asked Grace Koshida what she missed most, or what she might want to do when first returning to Paris, she said - 

"A magical 7 days in Paris with my mom

It was September 1993, and I took my mom on her first trip to Europe for 6 weeks.  We traveled by Eurail and this trip was unstructured and open-ended.  We did not know what country or city we were going to visit or how long we were going to stay in any location. 

But I knew we were going to stay in Paris for a while.  It was my mom’s dream destination.  She worked for an haute couture designer in Toronto who made custom-made clothes.  She loved French films, fashion and Impressionist art.

We took a train from Strasbourg and arrived in Paris’s Gare de l’Est train station.  As usual, I had booked no accommodations in advance but I wanted to stay in le Marais.  So, we looked around and ended up staying in the lovely Castex Hotel.  Here is the view from our room’s balcony.

We had 3-day Paris Carte tickets and along with my essential hardcopy Plan de Paris guide (remember this was pre-Internet/Google maps), we explored this wonderful city over the next 7 days. 

We saw many of the famous tourist attractions that other guests have already described (Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Sacre-Coeur, Montmartre), so I will try to highlight some other attractions.

One of the first things we did was to view Paris from the water onboard one of the many Bateaux-mouches that glided along the Seine at a scenic pace.

My mother loved gardens and green spaces.  She especially enjoyed visiting le Jardin des Tuileries and quiet squares such as the Place des Vosges in le Marais.

My mother loved French fashion. We visited les Galeries Lafayette department store where she bought me a Pierre Cardin scarf and some designer buttons that she used on the next handmade blazer she made for me after we returned home.

Of course, we visited the Louvre but it was le Musée d’Orsay that we really loved the most.  Renoir was her favourite Impressionist painter, and I liked Degas and Monet.

I was already collecting mystery fiction and other books for several years and remember browsing through the riverside bookstalls (Les bouquinistes de Paris) looking for a treasured find.

And of course, the food.  Every morning, we enjoyed a simple petit dejeuner at the Castex Hotel with huge bowls of café au lait and fresh croissants with butter and homemade jams.  We often grabbed a baguette, wine and some cheese or pate for a quick bite or had a simple meal at one of the many outdoor cafes/bistros in each arrondissement. And we enjoyed so many sweet treats from the various patisseries.

We did splurge on one meal in le Marais.  It was at Le Bistrot Bofinger where we had a prix-fixe dinner consisting of a house appetizer, jambon de Paris, foie gras, rable de lapin (first time my mom had rabbit), mousse chocolat and coffee.  Magnifique!  I remember that the tables were so close together that we also enjoyed watching what others were eating and eavesdropping on their conversations.

So until I can visit Paris again in person, I will revisit different arrondissements via the wonderful Aimée Leduc mysteries by Cara Black, the Lost Gargoyle in Paris by Gigi Pandian as well as Jenn McKinlay’s upcoming book, Paris Is a Good Idea.


Grace Koshida is a geographer by training, and a world traveler, foodie and mystery fiction aficionado by choice.  She is currently staying at home in Ottawa, Ontario.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Paris and Susan Shea

Continuing with responses from friends who love Paris as much as I do.

When I asked Susan Shea what she missed most, or what she might want to do when first returning to Paris, she said - 

Paris Encore

What do I miss about Paris? Pretty much everything except trying to walk on cobbles in kitten heels, a mistake I made only once. I’ve stayed in Paris in every season and there’s always something to love, even in August when the restaurants are closed (Bien sur! The chefs and staffs must have le vacance, mais non?) I agree with everything Kaye’s other guests have noted and won’t share the same photos. Here are a few more to relish.

Every time I return, I visit the Eiffel Tower, an iron lace masterpiece that never gets old. If you go early, you miss the crowds.

But I’ve never eaten at the fancy restaurant high up in the tower because my French friends assure me it’s not great – just for tourists. Instead, my sophisticated Parisian friend and I ate one time in a wonderful little place near the Trocadero.

I have stayed near Les Jardin du Plantes several times. I love roses and they have a magnificent rose garden. The gardeners, some of whom have a little English to match my little French, love to talk favorite roses, which is such a treat.

There’s also a shady allee, a perfect, quiet place to enjoy a jambon beurre (ham and butter on a baguette).

And, speaking of food – and how could one not in France? – I’m like everyone else. I drool in front of patisserie windows, shop at le chocolatier, love the finesse of French dinners, and always pick up a new food idea.

I always seem to wind up at Palais Garnais, the original Paris opera house, because it’s a major Metro stop, near Galleries Layfayette, an upscale department store with an atrium that climbs to the stars and Café de la Paix, where I once got stuck in the loo. Last year, for the first time, I went for the inside tour and a dance performance and had my iPhone camera loaded the pictures I took, you would be amazed at the ultra Baroque interiors. (for now, I’ve borrowed a shot from the web.) But the exterior is pretty nice too.

The trip before this last one was in December, and it rained a lot, so I walked along the long covered area opposite the entrance to the Louvre, the Rue de Rivoli, a great place to find little souvenirs for the family and friends who didn’t get to come along. But even better are the many passages, where I found a shop that sold vintage clothing.

Oh, there’s so much more. Paris never gets old, there’s always more to explore – the Marais, Montmartre, Sacre Coeur, the museums…. And one day we will be able to visit again. In the meantime, two landmarks, one before the fire, one more recent.

Susan C Shea writes two series, one set in Burgundy. She loves France and loves writing about it.


“…a pleasant getaway from hard core killers.” - NYTBR


Friday, April 24, 2020

Paris and Maki Morris

Continuing with responses from friends who love Paris as much as I do.

When I asked Maki Morris what she missed most, or what she might want to do when first returning to Paris, she said - 

"Paris is beautiful, sophisticated, and even the heavens have reserved a special golden light just for her. Paris is so much more than just cafés, museums, and breathtaking architecture. I’m utterly infatuated with the Parisian culture and its people. 

As an American, I’ve become a cog in a big wheel, where working through lunches or into late nights are all part of my daily life. I’ve cancelled social events with friends and family just to catch up on work. The priorities in life had somehow become muddled with a list of work related action items that had to be checked off. 

But when I’m in Paris, I find that I’m a different person all together. The Parisian culture is all about celebrating and savoring every moment. Work is work, but the Parisians won’t sacrifice the importance of sharing a meal with friends, time with family, or taking time for oneself to just be. And that splendiferous yet wise way of living is a gift Paris will give you when you visit her. 

So if I’m fortunate enough to be back in Paris again, I would like to walk along the Seine and admire the passers-by.

Maybe pick-up a loaf of freshly baked baguette, cheese, and wine, and sit on the grass at the Place des Vosges to soak in the sun and enjoy a quiet lunch.

For dinner, I would love to sit outside Le Garde Robe drinking delicious organic Rosé with Planche mixte charcuterie-fromage, while eavesdropping on fellow diners talking about their day.


Most of all, I want to be in Paris again to bathe in her golden light, and to pay homage for the invaluable life lessons she has taught me."

Maki received her Certified Wine Professional accreditation from The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, and also holds Certified Sake Professional accreditation from Sake Education Council in Japan. She is a partner and a creative director at IKAM Creative, and also a published author at The Parliament House Press. Read more about her debut novel, Blood and Brume at

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Paris and Dru Ann Love

Continuing with responses from friends who love Paris as much as I do.

When I asked Dru Ann Love what she missed most, or what she might want to do when first returning to Paris, she said - 

"It’s been a long time since I’ve visited Paris, but the one thing I miss is the slowness that surrounds you. No one is in a rush and you get to appreciate the time you have to savor all that is around you. I liked that on every other corner, there was always a store that sold bread and cheese on a baguette.

The places I want to go back and see are Montmartre, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and my favorite place, Mont Saint-Michel."

Monday, April 20, 2020

Paris and Lesa Holstine

Continuing with responses from friends who love Paris as much as I do.

When I asked Lesa Holstine what she missed most, or what she might want to do when first returning to Paris, she said - 

"It’s hard to believe it was 2017 when we made our girlfriends’ trip to Paris. I have wonderful memories, but I’ll never be able to recapture the laughter and conversation when we were just sitting around in cafes and restaurants. Even at the time, asked my favorite part of the trip, I said right then and there when we shared conversation and food. Isn’t that the best part of any trip?

But, Paris! There’s so much to love. We all agreed our favorite place was Giverny, not in Paris, but any trip there requires a trip back to Monet’s home and gardens and the village. 

I’d also return to Musee d’Orsay to see what I missed the first time. But, if I was starting all over, told I could only pick new spots, I’d pick gardens, such as the Tuileries Garden, and cemeteries. Gardens need no explanation, but cemeteries might.

How many cities have lists of cemeteries that people should visit, especially top 5 lists?

·        Cimetière du Père Lachaise.
·        Cimetière de Montmartre.
·        Cimetière du Montparnasse.
·        Cimetière de Passy.
·        Cimetière de Picpus.

How many cemeteries have memorials that look like this? 

I could spend all my time in Paris divided between cemeteries and eating. More desserts such as profiteroles, please. 

More hot chocolate at Angelina's. 

More bread and cheeses. The chocolate shops we never had time for. Just more time to sit in cafes and watch Paris.

Did you know author Guy de Maupassant is buried in Montparnasse Cemetery? It would be just perfect to stand at his grave and remember his quote, “We breathe, sleep, drink, eat, work and then die!”

Paris. I could go back just for food and cemeteries."

Saturday, April 18, 2020

We have a winner

The winner of the "Carousels of Paris" Give-Away


Andrea Richards

The independent bookstore Andrea chose as her favorite is
Pawley's Island, SC

Even though Litchfield Books is temporarily closed due to coronavirus, they are still mailing out orders.  

Andrea's copy of "Carousels of Paris" is on its way to her.

Thanks to everyone who sent in an entry.

We'll be doing more give-aways in the future, so please check back.

Many thanks,
Kaye, Donald and Annabelle