paris

Meet Your Paris Uncovered Guides

The brains (and the brawn) behind Paris Uncovered are Randa and Emily: two American expats who fell head-over-heels in love with the city and decided to make it their permanent home.

We’ve made a career out of showing visitors to Paris the ins and outs of our adopted home via walking tours, but we have a few little tips and tricks to share with you via this blog, too! So without further ado, it’s time to meet your guides.

RandA

When and why did you first move to Paris?

Having had short stints living abroad in Lyon and London, I fell in love with the experience of discovering a new city and culture. While I loved my years discovering Chicago, I was ready to explore another city and tackle a new challenge. In January 2011, I dove head first into my next chapter: studying at the Sorbonne, making new friends from around the world and attempting to master the French language!

What’s your favorite Paris neighborhood?

The Marais (both north and south) has always been a favorite and continues to be thanks to its blend of old and new Paris. You have it all: gorgeous views of gardens, medieval-to-renaissance-to-haussmannien architecture, cozy cafes and innovative restaurants. Whether you want to wander, shop or sit and people-watch: it’s perfect for any mood! A close runner-up would be the canal district -excellent for a long meandering walk.

What’s your favorite period of French history to discover?

I’ve always been intrigued by the French Revolution and it’s many cultural implications. When you dig beyond the famous “let them eat cake!” and “off with your head!” phrases, you find a story about human rights and the human spirit that has impacted France (and maybe, the world) in many ways beyond the guillotine. Although, the guillotine certainly makes for a dramatic element to that part of history!

What’s your favorite thing to eat in Paris?

It’s so hard to choose! The first to pop into my head: either a croissant aux amandes or jambon-beurre. A croissant aux amandes is a croissant that’s filled with almond paste, covered in almonds, then baked and covered in powdered sugar (its honesty more dessert than breakfast!) A jambon-beurre sandwich is the edible form of “less is more”: a slice of ham and smear of butter on a crunchy baguette. Both can be found at nearly any boulangerie, but they are not all created equal, so be careful!

What’s one thing you wish visitors to Paris knew about Parisians?

Pride in our city and culture is a universal trait around the world – and Parisians are no different. Showing your appreciation for their city, culture and language can help you make friends fast. A simple “bonjour” when greeting someone, and a “merci” to thank them can go a long way!

Emily

When and why did you first move to Paris?

I first moved here in 2007, and it was a total accident. I had been studying abroad in Cannes, and when push came to shove, I wanted to stay. There was no way for me to transfer my university credits to the French system, so I moved to Paris to attend the American University here, thinking I’d stay 18 months to finish my degree. That was eleven years ago.

What’s your favorite Paris neighborhood?

There are so many that are close to my heart: in fact, wandering Paris’ neighborhoods was one of the things that convinced me that I wanted to make the city my permanent home. I spend a lot of time in the 5th and 6th, where my favorite bookstores are located, but I have a lofty dream of someday living in Montmartre. When I’m not giving tours with Paris Uncovered, I’m also a food journalist, which means that these days, I spend a lot of time in the 10th and 11th, around République, where many of the innovative restaurants are.

What’s your favorite period of French history to discover?

I kind of feel obliged to say the 19th century, because that’s the period I specialized in when I was getting my Master’s degree at the Sorbonne. I love the post-revolutionary period and the way in which the French tried, failed, and tried again to create a sustainable republic. I think this period, wrought with difficulty, shows us a lot about what defines the French as a people.

That said, I’m also very interested in Les Années Folles (the “crazy” years, also known as the Roaring Twenties) and the Occupation of Paris and the French Resistance during World War II. I think what I love so much about French history (or history in general!) is that it’s just a chain of cause and effect, so if you delve deep enough, all periods of history are linked in one way or another (and there’s no better place to see how and why than Paris).

What’s your favorite thing to eat in Paris?

I’m a huge cheese lover – give me your smelliest piece, and I’m sold! But I’m also loving the return to truly artisanal bread these days. I have a few favorite addresses in the city for hand-made, slow-fermented bread (which goes very well with cheese, I must say!)

Other than that, I’m really digging the small plates revolution that has (finally) come to Paris. Market-driven menus are my jam, and there are a lot of them popping up in the capital.

What’s one thing you wish visitors to Paris knew about Parisians?

That the “rude” stereotype is a total misunderstanding! I come from New York, and I know that we’re painted as brusque and kind of mean, but both New Yorkers and Parisians love their city and want to help you out – we just want to be asked politely and appropriately. In the case of Parisians, that means starting every interaction with “Bonjour ! Parlez-vous anglais ?” (Hello! Do you speak English?) Most Parisians do, and when they hear that you’re trying (and that you’ve started your sentence with bonjour), they’ll be more than happy to point you in the right direction.

2 thoughts on “Meet Your Paris Uncovered Guides

  1. Kaaren Kitchell says:

    Absolutely charming, Emily and Randa! I’ll recommend your tours to visiting friends from the U.S. They couldn’t be in better hands. XO, Kaaren

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