Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Temptation on Tuesdays...Paris

I am currently writing a book set in Melbourne but my heroine lives in Paris. I am hoping I can get the hero and heroine back to Paris for the end of the book. My biggest problem? When setting a book in gay Paris, where does one begin? Where does one end? And what must one – gulp - leave out?

When I think of France I think of the colours of Monet. Pastel pinks, luscious greens. But when I think of Paris I think of black wrought iron and weak sunlight glinting off gold leaf. I think of cafes and flower shops and pet stores on every street corner. I think of the paved banks, and glorious bridges of the Seine and the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower at night.

I spent a week in Paris a couple of years back, and it is one tempting city. My favourite places were not necessarily the major tourists haunts. Though the Eiffel Tower, the bridges over the Seine, the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe were gorgeous, these are some of my favourite places in Paris.

Shakespeare and Co – a bookshop where young artists can apply to live for a year to learn their craft. Small hideaway cubby holes within the musty bookshop are the bedrooms, holes in the wall big enough to fit a person a chair and a laptop are office space. And the books, the books are lined up, stacked up, hidden behind one another and snuck into every spare nook and cranny that isn’t occupied by a cat.

Le Procope – the world’s first official café. Here in the 1600s the owners brought caffeine from the Indies and sold it by the hot mug. He set up tables and chairs and sold coffee and sweets. It has even more history than that. It was here that Napoleon met with his cronies to plan battles, long before he was the little emperor. One time he couldn’t afford to pay for his meal and he left his hat behind as collateral. The hat resides, encased in glass in the café still today. If visiting, or writing about this place, beware, now it is not a simple café. They will collect your coat at the door where you will be met by no less than three hostesses and the meals will cost enough to cover a month’s worth of coffees back home!

Hotel Biron - the home of the Rodin museum. Here you can get up close and personal with all of Rodin’s major works. The Gates of Hell, the Kiss, Cathedral. And The Thinker. He sits out in the middle of a paved garden. Just sits there. Thinking. Close enough to touch. Rough bronze and masterful creativity beneath your fingers.

The Latin Quarter – We arrived first at night, on the train, with our suitcases, not knowing much more than high school French. We turned a corner to find ourselves in the most fabulous world. Skinny cobbled streets lit bright by fluorescent lights. Greek restaurants you can hear from a block away and when you get there you have to lift your feet so as not to step on broken plates all over the footpath. Indian restaurants filled with people casting shadows through rich red curtained windows, and local fare, each one with a sprooker outside spitting hello in a dozen different languages to find out where you’re from so they can encourage you inside. The noise, the colour, the languages. And the food. My word the food! Shaved meat, hot fried, oh my god! Crepes freshly made right in front of you and lathered in Nutella. Real life chocolate croissants. “Je voudrais un pain au chocolat.” What more French does one need ?

And from one small room on the top floor of Hotel D’Albe you can sit on a tiny cramped window ledge, look out over the rooftops of the most beautiful apartment buildings to see the top spires of the Notre Dame.

I still remember the relief I felt at having simply made it to the hotel, finding that the hotel was habitable and was in such a prime position, then opening the window and finding that view. It was so unexpected and beautiful that I cried. I actually cried.

Are you tempted?


Ally’s current North American release is


She has great plans to visit Paris again soon which means she should be hard at work writing rather than thinking about it so much!

Ally's website

Ally's blog


  1. I'll never ride through Paris in a sports car, instead I visit vicariously. I really enjoyed the Moulin Rouge doco about the Australian dancers thatis being repeated on the ABC. It gave me a little glimpse of Paris. I look forward to your book!! Bon Chance et Au Revoir!!!

  2. You make me want to be there, Ally. Can't wait for the book.