A Writer’s Trip to France

A Writer’s Trip to France

Journey with me on this A Writer’s Trip to France blog post for ideas on planning your France dream trip. If you can’t manage a trip to France now, then enjoy a summer full of armchair travel.

But don’t rule out a France vacation. Figure out a budget, save your money, and read all the Francophile books possible until then.

But, wait. Take a moment to glance at the following France highlights, photos, and experiences on my France trips.

Best Time to Visit France

As a professional travel writer may recommend, choose spring or fall when deciding on the best times to visit France. However, stay updated on current available trips. Since travel options and prices can change, look for information on travel to France at fr.usembassy.gov.

One of the best ways to learn of sites to see in France comes from the experiences of others. For example, ask anyone you might know who has lived in or visited France. And perhaps, you’ll be inspired by my own experiences and photos of France as you peruse the epye.com website.

An Amazon Associate can earn from qualifying purchases. Therefore, if you decide to make a purchase through the Amazon links in this blog post, that means Amazon pays a commission to the Amazon Associate for it. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free, so thank you.

Elizabeth Pye Interview – Trip to France

The French Connection Interview

In The French Connection Interview with Author Angela Horn, I share points about my last trip to France. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every trip I’ve made to France, but that trip was quite fascinating for a different reason. I had nearly completed writing my third book of The French Connection series.

Snippets of the interview occur at different intervals through this article. Click here for a quick view of one of the video clips: video snippets.

Angie: Which places, other than the Eiffel Tower, should a first-time visitor to Paris see?

Elizabeth: As I recall, the first time I visited Paris I was filled with anticipation of how well the City of Lights would reveal herself to me. After an eleven-hour flight from California, you can imagine my delight when my first evening in Paris included a spectacular vision of the Eiffel Tower dressed in winking golden lights.

Also included in the view of the night sky from our fifth-floor hotel room was the domed Panthéon, a mausoleum ‘for the great men of the age of French liberty that reminded me of the capitol in Washington, D. C.

Tips for Visiting France

As a professional travel writer would recommend on tips for visiting France, hire a local private guide. Take a walking tour, and research various private tours with tour guides like seen on tripadvisor.com.

First-time visitors, as well as others, are advised to plan their itinerary to include the places that interest them the most. That being said, I do offer some useful tips to help with the planning.

By all means, plan before you leave home to determine which sites you want to be sure to see. I highly recommend obtaining and reviewing a map and a good travel guide book of Paris.

Seine River

The heart of the old city is built along the left and right banks of the Seine River which is a nice thing about Paris. Walking tours are considered a reasonable option. But if preferred, the Metro system is excellent and bus service is good.

I suggest a bateau mouche cruise  along the river which gives a delightful overview of many of the popular sites. Bateau means boat, Bateau mouche is a Seine river boat, and Mouche translates to fly.

Places to See

A tourist would find it difficult, of course, to see everything in one short visit to France. But if you have a free day, visit Versailles. If time permits while you’re in Paris, include a visit to Montmartre, perched on a hilltop, a high point in Paris.

Art history enthusiasts will not want to miss the Montmartre neighborhood, home to world renown artists in the nineteenth century. It is the home of the white limestone, Basilique du Sacre-Couer, as well as the Moulin Rouge.

Scroll down the page to view other suggestions. For instance, included below are lists of French authors, French cuisine, and French books. Pay attention to the More Places to See in Paris section. Look for the Roaming Paris link to the article about the must-see Paris streets.

Shakespeare and Company

Definitely, I recommend that you visit Shakespeare and Company while in Paris and the Sorbonne.

France bookstore
Shakespeare and Company

A writer’s visit to Paris should include a visit to Shakespeare and Company, one of the most famous literary spots in Paris. Allow ample time to visit this fascinating and famous bookstore.

Shakespeare and Company, first named Le Mistral when opened in 1951, was founded by American George Whitman. George renamed the store in April 1964 in honor of Sylvia Beach, founder of the original Shakespeare and Company in 1919.

The “Lost Generation”

According to Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, “Lost Generation” was mentioned in a comment by the writer Gertrude Stein. Apparently, she referred to the youth who became disillusioned after serving in World War I. However, “Lost Generation” later became a popular term referring to a group of artists and writers.

Hemingway worked in Paris in the 1920s and knew other writers who had moved to Paris from the United States during the 1920s and 1930s. The “Lost Generation” group included Hemingway, James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound and others who became famous writers. American writers Henry Miller, William Burroughs, and James Baldwin visited George Whitman’s book shop.

Armchair Travel

​Plan your own armchair travel by visiting Shakespeare and Company online if a trip to France isn’t feasible for you. Order your favorite books and read about France and famous writers in your own comfy chair.

Photo of Elizabeth at The Shakespeare and Company:

France bookstore
Elizabeth at The Shakespeare and Company

Interview Excerpt about Shakespeare and Company:

Angie: What was it like to visit Shakespeare and Company? Is this a typical bookstore? Where is it located?

Elizabeth: Although in a different location, the present Shakespeare and Company Bookstore maintains the tradition of the original (opened in 1919 by American Sylvia Beach) that was a haven for expatriate writers in the 1920s and 1930s. Beach’s store closed in during world war II—1941.

My preconceived notion of what to expect when I entered the store was different than what I found. I was most surprised by the quirky colors and arrangement of the books. It certainly has character!

Books in Nooks and Crannies

There were books everywhere in nooks and crannies. Numerous flights of stairs led to more books.

One set of steps was painted red with a message lettered in white to be read line-by- line on the way up. A cat rested in a basket on a ledge by a window, and a bright yellow typewriter sat on a small table in an alcove.

Perhaps I didn’t have time enough to fully appreciate it. The store is located across the Bridge from Notre Dame Cathedral at 37 Rue de la Bucheire.

More Places to See in Paris

Café de Flore

Learn a little French while drinking coffee in Paris at the famous Cafe’ de Flore. Renown writers and artists frequented the popular cafe ever since its 1885 opening. Reserve your 1.5-hour lesson, available for small groups of no more than six. The tour includes a walk through the famous neighborhood of Saint-Germain-des-Près.

Paris Streets

Take a minute to read Roaming Paris, 21 Paris Streets That You’ll Want to See. A fabulous read in that it describes numerous Paris streets and their history, the article gives ideas galore on what to see in Paris.

For example, the list of streets include Rue Nicolas Flamel near the Louvre Museum. You’ll see great views on Avenue Victor Hugo. Champs Elysees must top your streets to see as it is very famous, iconic, and receives many visitors annually. You’ll also find must-see monuments on Champs Elysees.

The informative Roaming Paris article should help you decide which historical sites and best museums with French history to visit.


The site plays a major role in my novel, Mon Amour, Friend or Foe.

The Sorbonne

Angie: What was happening at the Sorbonne during the time of your visit? Had you visited here before?

Elizabeth: The Sorbonne was founded in the 13th century and was once the seat of learning in Europe. It is located in the Latin Quarter. The site plays a major role in my novel, Mon Amour, Friend or Foe.

I’ve always wished I’d had the opportunity to study at the Sorbonne. So, I guess having my heroine study there was a step in that direction.

Sorbonne Summer Courses

A year or so ago, I saw that they offered summer courses, but that didn’t work out for me. As a last resort, I checked into whether tours were available. Though available, they must be booked through the University of Paris, part of the University system.

The courses are conducted in French. However, they do not provide translators. Therefore, I satisfied myself by visiting the impressive La Sorbonne building and taking pictures outside of the beautiful structure. It was built in 1653 by Cardinal Richelieu.

And there’s always next year!

Loire Valley

Chateau Chaumont-sur-Loire

Interview Continued:

Angie: Where is Chaumont-Sur-Loire? What is the history behind this chateau/castle?

Elizabeth: Chaumont-Sur-Loire is one of many grand chateaux in the Loire Valley, The Valley of the Kings. It sits on a wooded hill above the Loire River.

The fortress chateau was built between 1466 and 1510. Charles II d’ Amboise inherited Chaumont 1481 and undertook several major alterations. Catherine de Medici, wife of Henri II, acquired the chateau in 1560.

Picture of Chateau Chaumont-sur-Loire (the two photos below)

Angie: What was it like to go back to France but with your son, DIL, and grandchildren?

Elizabeth: I was thrilled when my son and his family invited me to share and plan a trip to France in June of 2019. What perfect timing as I was finishing the last few chapters of my third novel, Mon Amour, Friend or Foe, which takes place in World War II Occupied France.

I believe shared experiences with those you love is one of the best gifts possible. The day-to-day interactions and common memories are to be treasured.

Chateau Sept Tours

Visit to the Chateau Sept Tours:

France Chateau
Elizabeth, standing at entrance

Angie: Was this your second time to stay at Chateau Sept Tours? How did you feel about going back?

Elizabeth: In 2005, I stayed in Chateau Sept Tours, the chateau of seven towers, with my husband and our barge canal cruise group. I fell in love with this beautiful chateau in a quiet country setting.

The star-filled night sky revealed a full moon visible from our second-floor tower bedroom. That fairy-tale evening is etched in my memory.

Dining at Chateau Sept Tours

Our group dined at a long communal table laden with wonderful French food. I sampled the foie gras and caviar before selecting a wonderful chicken dish and a glass (or two) of Vouvray wine.

On my second visit to the chateau in 2019 with my son and his family, my experience was completely different than the first time. The five of us arrived in the afternoon and pretty much had the place to ourselves. We walked around the grounds, took pictures and checked out the golf course after we’d settled into our room.

On this visit I noticed that the vines covered more of the exterior of the chateau, which obscured the beauty of the architecture in my opinion. I loved sharing one of my favorite places with my family.

Dining at Chateau Sept Tours (Elizabeth’s grandson):

After a busy day traveling from chateau to chateau and as we had an early morning flight from Paris to Nice, we were ready for an early dinner. We had the dining room to ourselves and deliberated for quite some time before placing our order.

I recall that roast duck appeared as did other unusual dishes. As far as I could tell, there were no beef items on the menu. The wine and desserts were perfect.

Books to Read When Planning a Trip to France

You’ve probably discovered many interesting books to read when planning a trip to France. However, consider the following list and suggestions of books as well as authors to research.

Among this next list of books, you’ll notice topics like visiting France, touring France with kids, and a book for food lovers.

Authors of Classic French Books

Look for these authors of classic French books whether you’re planning summer armchair travel or a trip to France:

  1. Victor Hugo, one of France’s greatest poets, wrote Les Miserables and the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  2. Marcel Proust wrote the novel In Search of Lost Time, but the previous English translation was named Remembrance of Things Past.
  3. Charles Baudelaire, French poet, was known for his poetry, Les Fleurs du mal, and it contains multiple English translations.
  4. Jules Verne, became famous for his science-fiction novels, ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ and ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.’
  5. Emile Zola, was known as one of the greatest French novelists. Also a critic and political activist, he defended Alfred Dreyfus who was wrongfully convicted for treason.
  6. Charles Perault grew up in a family of government officials and studied law. However, he became a writer of fairytales and wrote one of the most famous books for children, Tales of Mother Goose. The great book of fairytales included the first version of Cinderella.

Must-Read French Novels, French Cuisine, and French Culture Books

French Writer Muriel Barbery

Elegance of the Hedgehog was written by a French author, Muriel Barbery. This book remained at the top of France bestseller lists for 30 consecutive weeks, and it also became a bestseller in several other countries.

French Chef Julia Child

Learn from French and pastry chef, Julia Child, author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, a bestseller by Julia Child.

French Chef David Lebovitz

David Lebovitz wrote nine books, and My Paris Kitchen was chosen for best cookbook of the year by Amazon.

Pastry Chef Pierre Hermé

Pastry Chef Pierre Hermé, known for his macarons and the best-known French pastry chef.

The French Connection

Before you travel to France or during your armchair travel, read The French Connection historical romances. As mentioned above, I visited France while finishing the last few chapters of Mon Amour, Friend or Foe.

You can order Mon Amour, Friend or Foe here by clicking on the Amazon link below:

The French Connection historical fiction novels are all available for purchase on Amazon.

  1. Silk or Sugar, and  below on the Amazon links:

2. Return to Chateau Fleury


3. Mon Amour, Friend or Foe


Author Angie Horn specializes in SEO for authors and is a food blog writer at kitchenhospitality.com.

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