Josée Noiseux: a very successful Paris’s travel guide
In 2009, lawyer Josée Noiseux moved to Paris for a year with her family. Back in Montréal, she left her profession to devote herself to writing and sharing her tips on life in Paris in a very successful travel guide, Humeurs de Paris. The book is now available throughout Québec and in Paris at Colette, the famous boutique on Rue Saint-Honoré. LUXE met this “Montréaler by Birth and Parisienne by Adoption”.
How did you get the idea for this book?
I’d been working as a lawyer in a private firm for over twenty years. In 2009, my husband had to go to Paris on business. I’d always dreamed of living in another country. When the opportunity arose, I dove in. Once I got there I was convinced that I wouldn’t need to adapt. I was already familiar with the city and with Parisians. But after a month, I realized that we were very different. To keep in contact with my family and friends, I started a blog. I told stories inspired by people I met. I also gave a few tips. When I got back to Montréal, I published my columns. Then I met members from the publishing world who suggested that I make a book out of them.
The book is divided by theme – Paris Mode, Sexy, Branché (trendy), Gourmand, Luxe, Budget, Arty – and each section contains addresses of hotels, restaurants, wine bars, boutiques and even pastry shops and bakeries. Why did you choose this angle?
I wanted to produce a guide that readers could travel with based on their passions and moods, and to transport them to the Paris of the Parisians that I have been privileged to visit and revisit many times.
One section is reserved for luxe, but you don’t mention the luxury boutiques that are emblematic of the City of Light. Is this a deliberate choice?
Paris is the ultimate capital of luxury. Its very name evokes the great names of haute couture, like Chanel or Dior, palaces and many-starred restaurants. But everyone knows them, and there is more to Paris. I decided to introduce the great emerging French artisans. I’m thinking of designer Barbara Bui, the Royal Monceau Hotel or Corthay’s shoes, all extraordinary.
You took almost all the photos in the guide. Is photography a passion?
Yes! I’d taken lots of photos during my sabbatical year in Paris, before I even signed the book contract. This guide is very personal, and I reveal a lot about myself through the texts and photos and my personal notes.
You were a lawyer with an excellent position. What drove you to leave it all to prepare this travel guide?
I was very successful in my field, but I decided to make the leap because I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. It’s both very refreshing and very destabilizing to find yourself in a milieu where you have to learn everything. It’s a good lesson in humility, too. Fortunately, my publishers trusted me. I have always told my daughters to not be afraid to risk and to dare, but they pointed out, with truth, that I had never done so myself! It was time!
Who is your book for?
For all travellers, epicureans, art lovers, lovers of Paris, fashionistas, browsers. And also for everyone who would like to explore somewhere besides the tourist spots.
If one of your friends was going to spend a day in Paris, where would you advise her to go?
I’d tell her start at a market, in particular the President Wilson where all the great chefs go. It’s fascinating! Then, Rue du Nil, to Frenchie’s, an incredible restaurant destination. Finally, I’d suggest she take a stroll in the Luxembourg Gardens. It’s a very special place, where tourists, Parisians and regulars rub elbows. You get the impression that time has stopped there.
Is this guide the first in a series?
I hope so! For the moment, I’m working on the English version. I’m also continuing to add to it on my blog, humeursdeparis.com. Recently I prepared a series of playlists, Moods of Paris, that have been quite popular. For the rest, we’ll see!
Text: Diane Stehle