Excerpted from  Paris from the Heart: Ultimate Walking Tours to Fun, Fashion, and Freedom by Jan Dolphin. Copyright © 2011 Jan Dolphin. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Some people get involved in beauty—touching, feeling, possessing, and owning. Others are simply lookers. Creative beauty has always been the legacy of Paris. For centuries it has attracted legions of famous artists, writers, playwrights, fashion designers, poets, and chefs—creativity lives in the walls of this old city.

Paris from the Heart is an engaging travel guide to ultimate walking tours in the City of Light. The sheer size of Paris is enough to intimidate many travelers into going to the popular tourist sites and claiming they’ve seen Paris. In Paris from the Heart, travelers are offered an opportunity to discover the compelling intimacy of the small ancient neighborhoods along with the tourist attractions. Take the guesswork, research, and planning out of your Paris holiday! The six volumes include eight step-by-step walking tours, historical and modern facts, route and sight descriptions, dining suggestions, maps, photos, and journal spaces to provide you with the most enviably dazzling, effortless, and comprehensive Parisian adventure. When you wake up in Paris, simply choose a tour that fits your fancy, grab the corresponding booklet, and enjoy being mesmerized! With Paris from the Heart, absorb the sights, sounds, and ultimately, the soul of this most spectacular city. To learn more about Paris from the Heart: Ultimate Walking Tours to Fun, Fashion, and Freedom and Paris from the Heart Walking Tours (2015) visit: (Website: www.parisfromtheheart.net).

Paris from the Heart is available through Amazon or it can be purchased directly from Jan Dolphin at: (Email: jandolphin@comcast.net). 

FOR SPECIAL SALE PRICE SEND ORDERS TO: jandolphin@comcast.netYou would receive an autographed copy and a special SALE PRICE of $32.95 plus shipping and tax. Checks or money orders only.  

Subscribers, Paris from the Heart: Ultimate Walking Tours to Fun, Fashion, and Freedom by Jan Dolphin, award-winning author, gives us a travel guide to her personal Paris. Free book giveaway to one subscriber ends December 2, 2014. A $ 44.95 US dollar value (Beaver’s Pond Press).

Subscribe free. Once subscribed, you will be eligible to win—no matter where you live worldwide—no matter how long you’ve been a subscriber. You can unsubscribe at anytime. We never sell or share member information.

Praise for Paris from the Heart

“…[Paris from the Heart] I love it! I can’t wait to curl up at night and go through it volume by volume…” —Lidy, French Garden House

“’Paris from the Heart’, they are lovely paperbacks with great color photos and information on walking tours, day trips and escapades around Paris.” —The Paris Apartment

Excerpts from Paris from the Heart by Jan Dolphin:

The Left Bank: La Rive Gauche and the Land of Plenty

The World of Aristocratic Paris

Interview: Jan Dolphin’s “Paris from the Heart” – on the creative beauty that has always been the legacy of Paris.

Paris from the Heart: Practical Things to Know

If you look like your passport picture, you’re too ill to travel.” —Will Kommen


It sounds so rude to say “toilet” to Americans. We find that announcing we have to “go to the bathroom” sounds much more dignified. The French, however, would look at you in astonishment; taking a bath in a public place would be frowned upon! So “toilet” it is, “toilettes” in French. In France, there seem to be no regulations as to what toilets look like, and they range in style. The worst is the pissoir, which is literally a hole in the ground that the “go-er” straddles over. For this reason, wearing skirts can be a good idea. In other French toilets, you will have to share the room with the opposite sex at the same time! C’est fou! (Translation: “That’s crazy!”)

Some toilets are incredibly small, and it will be difficult to turn around in them. Some are tidy, but I haven’t seen too many that I would describe as “clean.” This is a pretty fair description of the facilities in cafés, which will be your best source! The lighting is often on a timer, so check where the light switch is before you get comfortable—it’s not unusual to find yourself in a tiny, pitch-black room. (Note: This can also happen in hallways; check where switches are located.) The toilettes are almost always located in the old basement, so often times you will have to make your way down a very narrow, steep, old staircase. To locate the toilet, you must inquire as to its location. To say, “Where are the toilets?” say, “Où sont les toilettes?” (ou sow-nn lay twa-let). You will often find that it is mandatory to pay for your toilet use. It would be appropriate to hand the bartender or café worker some change or buy a bottled water. If you do not have money, ask for the telephone, which is almost always next to the toilets. Restaurants, hotels, and department stores usually have very clean and modern facilities. Keeping watch over the toilets, you will find “Madame de la Toilette.” She is there to ensure that people pay for toilet use, and will be sitting or standing just outside the toilet door. Always have change with you to pay upon entering or exiting these toilettes.

There are also toilets on the street. When you leave one, the entire toilet enclosure is hosed down automatically with disinfectant, so if you saw someone leaving one, do NOT run into it to avoid paying the entrance fee unless you’d like to be locked in and given a free medicinal shower. After hearing that, I was paranoid about going into one. It is commonly known that they are also regularly used for sexual encounters. So there you have it—at least you’re prepared.


As in any large city, Paris has people of all backgrounds, incomes, nationalities, and social classes. Some of these groups rely on skillful thievery to support their families. Many target tourists, and have pick pocketing down to a science (you won’t even know it happened to you until after the fact). These people have been trained since childhood, and they view it as their professions. Entertainment is often part of the gig to put you off guard, though they have many savvy methods with which to distract their victims. Some travel in small bands; many of the women and children are in long dresses and veils, some will dress like business men and speak English, and some will dress just like tourists to confuse you.

How to protect yourself

– Keep jewelry to a minimum.

– Dress down or dress to fit in, not stand out.

– Do not keep valuables in an obvious place. Obvious is a purse, waist-or neck-pouch, or pockets. They’re wise to all of this. When I have to carry a passport, I raise the waist-pouch up as highly as possible so it’s not at the waist, and I put it under my clothing. Credit cards and large bills go in my bra. You can buy pouches in travel stores that hook around the bra! Guys, you’re out of luck on this one, but sometimes your socks can be safer than anywhere else.

– Any cards you don’t need, keep locked in the hotel or room safe. They’re somewhat safe there. I keep only small bills in my purse—nothing too valuable, only needful things.

– When you withdraw money from a cash machine, lean over to hide what you’re doing. Scam artists have been known to install small cameras over the cash machines to get your PIN number.

– Do not be trusting of children. Young children will approach you with a sign written in English and will plead with you to read it. Of course, being the helpful traveler you are, you read it and come to the part that asks for money. If you give money, you will be surrounded by dozens of them begging for money, money, money! You could also be approached by a mom with a baby at her breast begging for food while a band of ruffian children occupy themselves by picking your pockets. So, ignore them and walk on.

I could go on and on about this topic. I have been a victim twice; once by a woman and once by a man. One incident happened in the atrium of the Palais Royal. One minute a clean, well-dressed, handsome stranger was making conversation with me in English, the next minute he was attempting to drag me off. I was in total shock, but preservation overtook my instincts and I fought to get away. Luckily I was able to escape and ran into a nearby store, but not before he stealthily emptied my purse without my knowledge. I first went to the police, and then back to my hotel and called my credit card companies to report it. In thirty-five minutes he had charged $5,000. I was alone, I had no cash, no credit cards, and no cash card—except for the American Express that I had hidden away in my luggage “just in case!” The manager of the Citadines on Quai des Grandes Augustins, Tuong Trinh, went beyond the call of duty. He helped me call all the credit card companies, the bank, lent me money, took me to the police station for three hours to interpret and make sure I knew how to get to the American Express office. It took me months to be at all comfortable discussing this deeply terrifying event—it was terribly traumatic in many ways.


I’m not sure what I can tell you to make this easier. First of all, there are no doors on the showers. Most showers have hand-held shower heads. Some newer models hook on the wall so you can make your own facsimile of the shower you’re use to. Every time I shower in Paris, there will undoubtedly be water all over the bathroom by the time I’m done, as there is no place to put the shower head when I’m washing my hair! Perhaps you’ll have more luck.


Being prepared is your best defense, so hopefully this section won’t be necessary for you. To prepare for medical emergencies, bring your insurance ID card with you and check with your insurer on travel abroad coverage. Also take note that large hotels often have a doctor on staff. If you need to go to a hospital, you may prefer to go to a hospital that speaks English. And, lo and behold, it does exist (this hospital accepts Blue Cross and other major medical policies):

The American Hospital in Paris
63 boulevard Victor Hugo, Neuilly-sur-Seine
Tél: 01 46 41 25 25
Métro: Pont-de-Levallois
Bus: Pont-de-Neuilly, bus #82 which runs a twenty-four hour emergency service.

Other Hospitals and Healthcare Centers

Central Médical Europe
44, rue d’Amsterdam, 9ème
Métro: Liège or Saint Lazare

Emergency Dental, S.O.S. Dentaire
87 boulevard Du Port-Royal, 13 ème
Tél: 01 43 37 51 00
Métro: Gobelins
Monday–Friday 8:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. / Saturday–Sunday 9:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

Medical Hotline
Tél: 01 46 21 46 46

Twenty-four Hour Pharmacy Hotline
Tél: 01 45 62 02 41

The pharmacists in Paris are well trained and can help you out with many problems you would ordinarily go to a doctor for. There is a least one in each arrondissement.


The main post office is located in the 1er at 53, rue du Louvre. There is also a mailing center here, which may come in handy for all those wonderful treasures that you probably cannot live without. It is open Monday—Friday 8:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m., and every Saturday 8:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. for all services. It is open twenty-four hours a day on a limited basis for selling stamps and taking in packages. You can also buy stamps anywhere you see the red sign for Tabac stores. Tél: 01 40 28 76 00, Métro: Musée du Louvre


For long-distance calls within France: dial the 10-digit number of your party

For international calls to Paris: First dial the international code (011 from U.S., 0011 from Australia, 00 from the U.K., Ireland, and New Zealand). Next, dial France’s country code (33). Next, dial the city code (1 for Paris). Then dial the phone number. (Note: phone numbers have a 01 before the actual number. Drop the 0 in the Paris phone number +1 (city code) + eight-digit number, when calling from out of the country). Example: (Calling Paris from the U.S.) 011+ 33 +1 + phone number (eight-digit).

For international calls from Paris: First dial 00. Then dial the country code (US or Canada is 1, UK is 44, Australia is 61, Ireland is 353, and New Zealand is 64). Then dial the area code and number (seven-digit for US). Example: Calling US from Paris) 00+1+area code + seven-digit phone number.

Directory assistance: Dial 118-008 for numbers inside and outside France. To access a foreign operator (not French), dial codes 0800-99-00 followed by the country code.


This is a prepaid calling card good for local calls in Paris or anywhere else in France, but it is not to be used for international calling. Phone cards can be purchased at Tabac stores. If you have a phone card, you can recharge it anywhere with e-Kit on the Web. You can recharge it also over the phone using a self-serve recharge menu. To speak to a live person, call customer service at 888-310-4168 in the U.S., 0800-028-2402 in Britain, 800-094-747 in Australia, and 866-626-9724 in Canada.


Use these numbers in France to report stolen cards:

Visa: 08-00-90-11-79, www.visaeurope.com

Mastercard: 08-00-90-13-87, www.mastercard.com

American Express: (collect) 336-393-111, www.americanexpress.com

Emergency cash: Over the weekend while banks are closed, have money wired to you by:

Western Union: 800/325-6000, www.westernunion.com

Transfer funds online or by phone in about ten minutes: 800/MONEYGRAM, www.moneygram.com

If you’ve lost all of your identification, call the airline and explain what happened. You may be able to board the plane if you have a copy of your passport or birth certificate and the police report that was filed. This is why I mentioned earlier to make Xerox copies of everything and write down all phone numbers pertaining to the credit card.


Store hours are posted, but 10:00 doesn’t always mean 10:00. So much of Paris is boutique shopping and they have their own ideas of how to run their stores. Instead of getting frustrated, this is a gentle nudge: slow down, relax, stop for a café, and enter Paris time. Generally, boutique hours go something like this:

– Open: 10:00 a.m. (maybe)
– Close for lunch: around 1:00 p.m.
– Back from lunch: around 2:30 p.m. or 3:00 p.m.
– Close: 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Department stores have much more rigid (although somewhat odd) opening and closing times.

All department stores are closed on Sunday. (Some department stores are working on them, but it’s not a popular proposal.) The stores on rue de Rivoli are open earlier and stay open late as well as Sunday. You will find some stores open also on the Champs-Élysées.


Paris has state regulated sales that are held in early January and late July. The sales generally run for six weeks. The discounts are better later in the sale—up to 80% off on designer fashions. The major sales are announced in the papers Figaroscope and Pariscope (available at newsstands).

 ELEVATORS: “What floor am I on?”

When Americans walk into a building from the street, they have arrived on the first floor. However, for Parisians, the ground floor is floor O. One floor up is the first floor, not the second floor, and so on. The basement level is called out in several ways: -O seems to be used a lot. “Elevator” in French translates to l’ascenseur (le-ah-seh-suhe).


If you need to use a computer, there are cybercafés; check www.cybercaptive.com or www.cybercafe.com. If you bring your own computer, there is Wi-Fi available in many hotels and cafés. You can check this out when you make a reservation. Also check for dial-up access. The iPass network has dial-up numbers around the world, and will tell you how to set up your computer. You will have to sign up with an iPass provider; visit www.ipass.com for a list of providers, and click “Individuals Buy Now.” Bring the correct equipment with you (phone adaptors, spare phone cord, and a spare Ethernet cable). Be sure all of these are in the correct voltage to use with the electrical system in France. If you use a Mac, go to your Apple provider.


French Government Tourist Office: www.franceguide.com / www.francetourism.com

Paris Convention and Visitor’s Bureau: www.paris-touristoffice.com / www.parisinfo.com

Bonne chance!

Acknowledgements: Natalie Ehalt, bilingual teacher at Hiawatha Academies, Minneapolis, MN and Senior Editorial Manager and writer with A Woman’s Paris.

Jan DolphinJan Dolphin, author and interior designer. Paris has beckoned Jan many times over the years, and each time she added to her personal travel journals. For Jan, dreams happen when the stars and planets align to spell, “Go for it!” Thus, her book Paris from the Heart was born. Jan is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and has spent her life as an interior designer for private residences and commercial properties: homes, condos, lofts, offices, gyms, yachts—anything that requires her artistic flair. She resides in Saint Paul, Minnesota. (Website)

You may also enjoy A Woman’s Paris® post Two for the Road: Paris’s Line 2 – small-scale adventures on the Right Bank, by Rachel Rixen. By following the arc of the métro’s line two that cuts through the heart of the right side from west to east, Rachel sets out to catch a coup d’œil of her northern neighbors in the places that make them feel at home. The sun is hard to come by in Paris’s fall and winter months and any occasion to conveniently forget an beat-up umbrella is reason enough to go on a small-scale adventure. 

How to find a (suitable) place in Paris, and other miscellaneous information, by French woman from Brittany, Bénédicte Mahé, who is in her mastère-spécialisé final trimester doing an internship in Paris. Bénédicte shares with students how to find a place in Paris. (French)

A literary feast – Cafés and culture in Paris’ 9th arrondissement by Parisian Flore der Agopian. Paris has always been an inspiration for writers and painters, both from France and all over the world. Flore explores how cafés in nineteenth century Paris inspired literary figures Emile Zola, Alexandre Dumas, George Sand, Guy de Maupassant, Marcel Proust and French painters Edgar Degas, Eugène Delacroix, Camille Pissaro, and Edouard Manet. Including a list of current cafés in Paris’ 9th arrondissement.

 C’est normal!: the French philosophy and their genuine politeness. Dana Wielgus takes us on a journey through France—from Paris to Toulon—and successfully debunks the debatable stereotypes some Americans are fed about people of different cultures.

Missing your train (in Paris): C’est la vie by Parisienne Bénédicte Mahé who shares stories of missing your train as a result of accidents on the railway due to animals, strikes or the weather—plus other practical ways of getting around France. Including websites to travel by trains in France.

What’s in a Word? There’s more to French class than you thought. Jacqueline Bucar, French teacher and immigration attorney, invites us to stimulate a way of thinking and learning that expands our understanding of the world and ourselves through the study of a foreign language. She shares “what’s in a word,” a way of thinking, a “mentality” that helps define the people who speak it and their culture. (French)

Unpredictably Paris by Barbara Redmond who set off alone that first time in the City of Light, away from fellow travelers, to explore the nooks and crannies of the neighborhoods and shops on foot. After almost ten years of annual visits to Paris, she still has no secret formula for knowing the city. Her ritual is walking and shares chance encounters along the way…  

Doing the bridge “faire le pont” in Paris by Parisienne Bénédicte Mahé. Every year, the month of May is full of promises for people working in France: the promises of numerous public holidays. Between May 1st and May 8th we look for maybe three four-day weekends. Because what is a French person to do, except take Friday off when Thursday is a public holiday? In French we call that faire le pont, “do the bridge”. What do people do during these long weekends? Well…

Text copyright ©2014 Jan Dolphin. All rights reserved.
Illustration copyright ©2012 Barbara Redmond All rights reserved.