Virtual Paris walks: a real treat

16Feb18

When I first stumbled across A French Frye in Paris some eight years ago, Corey Frye had just married a French girl and moved to Paris. His love for the city and perpetual sense of wonder were infectious — and I related to his earnest (but sometimes ill-fated) attempts at learning French.

“My husband and I are coming to Paris,” I wrote Corey one day, “and we’d love to meet you.” I was apprehensive because I’d never before met an internet friend in real life, but Corey put those worries to rest. He was delightful.

Corey lunch 1040095 BLOG
In addition to being a wonderful guide, Corey is a serious foodie. Here’s one of the first meals I shared with him, on the rue des Barres.

He was teaching English in those days, but spent every spare minute wandering the city and populating what he then called his “Goonie Map.” It was a treasure-trove of historical wonders, and his gift for storytelling brought each of the spots on his map to life.

Mur Charlemagne Corey walk 1250866 BLOG
On one of our strolls Corey showed me several remnants of the defensive wall king Philippe Auguste built around Paris between 1190 and 1220.

His knowledge seemed to grow exponentially between my yearly visits, and soon he was guiding paying customers through centuries of history in Paris’ tangled streets.

Balcony Corey walk 1250807 BLOG
This ornate balcony adorns one of the luxurious private homes built on the Île St. Louis after the creation of the man-made island in 1614.
Cellar Corey walk 1250853 BLOG
Corey paused during another stroll to point out an inauspicious-looking storefront, and then led me into the medieval crypt that is being excavated and restored below street level.

Cellar Corey walk 1250845 BLOG

Crepe and Corey 1020743 BLOG
Did I mention that Corey is also a foodie? He chose Café Breizh at random for a break — and it turned out to (reputedly) serve the best crêpes in Paris.
Au Vieux Arcole 1230747 BLOG
… and here we are again, at Au Vieux Paris D’Arcole, which is reputed to be the oldest restaurant in Paris.

Au Vieux Arcole Corey 1230791 BLOG

Au Vieux Arcole cellar 1230818 BLOG
After ingratiating ourselves to Frédéric, the manager and host, we got a tour of the wine cellar.

Since then I’ve had the privilege of taking several walks with Corey, both informally and as a client. And although he now knows the city intimately, he’s never lost the wonder or curiosity that made his blog so irresistible all those years ago.

Office building 1250924 BLOG
We never fail to avail ourselves of an open courtyard door to explore the interiors, like this old building in the Marais.
Creepy basement 1220180 BLOG
I also took Corey on an off-road adventure in the cellar under my apartment building.

In fact, his curiosity has led him to create an entirely new experience that (to my knowledge) no other Paris tour guide is offering: free, live weekly walks through the City of Light. His episode a couple of weeks ago about the Palais-Royal yielded some eyebrow-raising facts about the young Napoléon Bonaparte.

Because I’m a crazy Francophile (and a big fan of Corey’s) I also signed up as a sponsor on Patreon, which grants me handy maps of each week’s itinerary, access to post-walk online chats, and other perks.

Corey Frye walking tour map

But you don’t have to be a crazy Francophile to enjoy Corey’s weekly walks. If you have even a passing interest in Paris, you’ll enjoy watching past videos on YouTube or catching his live tours on Facebook.

I’ll sign off today with a huge thank you to Corey for his friendship over the years, and with a tip of the hat to his success — for many more years to come.



55 Responses to “Virtual Paris walks: a real treat”

  1. Heide, I have absolutely no time to write a comment right now BUT I must. I think I can see clearly now; I must have met you on Corey’s site, didn’t I?? But then, how did I ‘meet’ Corey???? Oh, those burning questions.
    I love how you write about him – he has become my ‘go to’ address when I want the most glorious Paris pictures, I love his fresh way of sharing his love for the city, I love that he loves food….. and when you are next time in the area, pls contact me beforehand so that WE can meet up too. I wd love to invite you and your husband to a meal at our place. As you know we are only 35’ by RER from the heart of Paris and I’m sure we’d all go along like a house on fire….. Now back to my kitchen. I’ve got matters to attend to 🙂

    • 2 Heide

      I am honored that you would feel so compelled to comment to drop everything and leave me these kind words, Kiki! Yes, I believe you did indeed “meet” me through Corey’s blog — just as I met him through his blog too, all those years ago. It’s quite remarkable that he has remained my go-to source for all things Paris, and that not once have his posts or photos felt stale or repetitive. He really does have a gift for seeing things through new eyes every time. And thank you also for your kind invitation for a visit! As it happens I am coming back to Paris in a few weeks, but only for a few days — and alas, a good portion of that will be spent working. Because it’s impossible to know when the meetings will be scheduled I am reluctant to commit to anything. But I’ll let you know if my husband and I end up with a large enough block of leisure time to accept your very kind offer. Thank you so much …

  2. That was a very lovely post. I had read on your “about’ page that you loved Paris. After reading this post, I can more clearly see what you mean.

    • 4 Heide

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this post, Anthony — and glad too that my enthusiasm for Paris came through. Corey is one of the few people I’ve met who gets as excited as I do about wandering into an old cellar. 🙂

  3. A nice example of taking a risk and have it work out so nice for you and a great acknowledgement of Cory. What a great friend you are.

    • 6 Heide

      Thank you so much, Tom. I learned a lot about friendship from a wise fellow who used to be my boss before becoming a true friend. 🙂

  4. Meeting people you know only on the Internet is great fun! I’ve done it many times. I’m glad you connected with Corey!

    • 8 Heide

      It really is great fun to meet blog friends “IRL,” Jim. For me, it’s been the biggest reward of blogging! Maybe someday I’ll be lucky enough to meet you in person too.

  5. Thanks for sharing your story and Corey’s site – what a discovery! I’ve just scooted over and what a treasure trove of Paris! A must-follow for me. Mille mercis!

    • 10 Heide

      “A treasure trove of Paris” described Corey’s site beautifully … and the thing that astounds me is that, even after all these years, he is still making new discoveries and seeing the city through fresh eyes. I’m so glad you’ve joined his followers, ME — you won’t be disappointed! 🙂

  6. Studying first your pictures of Paris and then clicking on the link to Corey’s site makes me wish so very badly I could go and visit. Alas, my five year old acts like an animal sometimes and takes up too much space, I can’t even take him to a McDonald’s. Do you think you’ll see Corey when you go to Paris in a few weeks?

    • 12 Heide

      Corey’s site makes me yearn for Paris too, dear T-Fir — which is why I’m so excited about these live walks he’s doing now. They might be a fun way to introduce your slightly feral five-year-old to the city of light, without the noise or space concerns. (And who knows, maybe go with him when he’s older!) As for a future meet-up with the French Frye, I very much hope to see him during my next visit, even if just for a coffee or lunch. Anyway. Thank you so much for stopping by … it’s always good to “see” you here.

  7. I want to go to Paris someday.

    • 14 Heide

      I hope you will have the opportunity! But until you do, I hope you’ll enjoy Corey’s virtual walks. They’re a great way to learn about the city and its history without ever leaving your couch. 🙂

  8. What an amazing friendship! What an amazing friend. You made me feel as if I knew him.

    • 16 Heide

      Corey is one of those people who is so open that even after a single meeting you feel as if you’ve known him forever. I hope you’ll consider joining one of his tours so you can see for yourself! 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping by, and especially for taking the time to comment.

  9. Very interesting, I enjoyed this post! Haven’t been to Paris in quite a while! Thanks for sharing this, Heide! Have a splendid weekend! Marcus

    • 18 Heide

      You find interesting photos wherever you go Marcus, but for mere mortals like me Paris is a motherlode of inspiration — and I think you’ll find that in Corey’s photos too. Thank you so much for stopping by, and a splendid weekend to you too!

  10. Hi Heide, What a great post and wonderful pictures. I am going to flag Corey’s with anyone planning a trip to Paris. Sounds like his tours of Paris are quite unique. I love how the internet has facilitated all these type of activities. Louise

    • 20 Heide

      Corey’s tours are indeed unique, Louise! He is a wonderful storyteller and has an equally wonderful sense of humor. And I join you in being grateful for how the internet has made these kinds of activities (and friendships) possible. I wish you a lovely Saturday, and thank you so much for stopping by!

  11. Hello Heide…so nice to meet another lover of the French Frye in Paris. I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Corey personally but I hope that will change by 2020. We hope to book him out while we are in the majestic city of Paris. Bree the youngest sister of 3 sisters…..

    • 22 Heide

      Hello Bree! It’s lovely to “meet” you — and your lovely blog as well. (What a great idea you and your sisters had in starting it …)

      I do hope you’ll be able to meet up with Corey when you get to Paris, because after just one morning with him you’ll have a much deeper appreciation for not only the city’s rich history but for its architectural and cultural treasures as well.

      Thank you so much for stopping by, and happy travels! I look forward to seeing where you and your sisters go next.

      • My plan…well me as Bree – plan on 2020 for Paris. We are heading to Spain and Portugal early April next year. Looking forward to reading more of your blog as well. Corey in 2020…might just have to book him in soon. I think he is going to be so popular even more so than now.

        • 24 Heide

          Spain and Portugal! Oh, how wonderful … I very much look forward to tagging along on that adventure! As for Paris in 2020, yes you would be wise to book Corey now, because I think you’re right that he will soon be completely overbooked. (I hope so; he deserves the success.)

  12. Nice 👍, Also check my blogs and give some feedback guys.. so i can improve my writing skill …

  13. Ahhh these pictures are making me so nostalgic for France! I absolutely adore this post! Now I need to go book my trip ;p ❤

    • 30 Heide

      Assembling this post made me nostalgic too, Kate … fortunately there’s another “fix” coming this morning via Corey’s virtual tour. 🙂

  14. My husband nd I are planning our first ever trip to Europe. We just can’t decide whether or not to spread it over several cities and several countries on just focus on one! Also do we need a guide or just stumble around on our own? Should be go by train, plane, river boat or walk? I’d love to know your recommendations!

    • 32 Heide

      What exciting news! I hope you’ll find it reassuring that (in my experience) there’s no “wrong” answer, because you’ll have a wonderful time no matter what you do.

      It’s difficult to offer specific advice without knowing you and your husband or your interests (big-city people, or prefer small towns? art lovers? foodies? hikers or campers? adventurous … or more reserved?).

      But speaking in the most general terms, if you have 10 days or fewer I would recommend only one or two major stops — because you’ll need a couple of days to acclimate to the time difference (https://heideblog.com/2012/08/12/a-first-timers-guide-to-paris/), learn to use the local public transit, etc. If you’re in a big city you can always do a day-trip or two to surrounding towns by train and get to know the region better. I also recommend this “stay put and dive deep” approach if you and your hubby just want to relax, or if you’re really interested in a particular topic (for instance, if you’re history buffs you could easily spend a week in Normandy).

      But if you’re lucky enough to have a longer time frame — say, longer than two weeks — traveling around a bit is certainly a great way to get a “sampler platter” of a country, or several! My husband and I have done this many times and, although it can be tiring and stressful to pack up and move every two or three days, it’s also great fun.

      Speaking of hopping around: We’ve had some *horrible* experiences with the discount, short-hop air carriers (EasyJet and Vueling) and now travel almost exclusively by train within Europe. For shorter trips it takes about the same amount of time (when you consider travel time to the airport, checking your bag, going through security, and then traveling into the city center of your new destination when you arrive). You also see lots of gorgeous countryside from the train, and you have all of your luggage with you. Plus, most train stations are centrally located so you’re generally close to the center of town when you arrive. This can save you a lot of money on taxi fare.

      Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to travel within Europe by train. I use and recommend raileurope.com. You just plug in your travel date(s) and destination(s), and they propose several routes based on your criteria (speed, cost, time of day, etc.). They also offer refund/cancellation options — which I recommend in case someone falls ill, or if you simply decide you want to stay a day or two longer in a particular place. RailEurope’s service costs about 5-7% above the price of buying the tickets at local kiosks in Europe, but I think it’s worth every penny to not have to stand in line and sputter random German words, LOL.

      If you want to do a “sampler platter,” another option is to go by river boat. I’ve never done this, but my in-laws have many times and absolutely love it. There are a ton of pros: Someone else has figured out all the logistics, your lodging and meals are included, you get to see tons of gorgeous scenery and a lot more cities and towns than you could probably visit on your own in the same time, and guided tours are sometimes included. The downside, of course, is autonomy. If you fall in love with a particular place — or if you’re a photographer who wants to shoot the “golden hour” in one of the cities where the boat stops — you’re out of luck, because you have to be back on board at the appointed hour. You also won’t get as immersive or authentic a cultural experience because you’ll be with another group of tourists at all times. But if you want a combination of relaxation and serious sightseeing, river cruises seem like a great way to go.

      As for whether to hire a tour guide … YES. A good guide can really maximize your time by showing you the “must-sees” according to your interests, and also by giving you a richer historical and cultural appreciation for what you’re seeing. A lot of monuments and churches offer regular guided tours, which you can join on a lark. And although you again give up some autonomy, bus tours can also be a handy way to see remote sites (such as Stonehenge) or get an overview of a city. Other times a professional tour is the easiest way to gain access to in-demand attractions, such as the Sistine Chapel or Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” in Milan.

      That’s my two cents’ worth, off the top of my noggin. Does that help at all? If you have more-specific questions, please drop me a note and I’ll be happy to help — or put you in touch with someone who has more expertise.

      Thank you for stopping by, and HAVE FUN!

      • Heide, Thank you for all the advice! My husband and I have a lot of research to do so we can ‘prioritize’ our must haves! We just got another brochure from Viking River Cruises and I’m not sure I’m into the whole ‘mass herd’ approach. Also I think I’d feel constrained by the times and wouldn’t be able to soak in the atmosphere and be able to wander. I’ll let you know what we decide!

        • 34 Heide

          Isn’t it a bit overwhelming how many options there are as you’re planning your trip? But please do rest assured that no matter what approach you take, you’ll have a WONDERFUL time. I’ll be so excited to hear more as your plans start coming together!

  15. You managed to instill in me the desire to go back to Paris! How did you do that? I think I missed my mountains so much when I was teaching in the suburb of Paris that I refused to look at the Beauty of the city! Silly me! Thank you Heide!

    • 36 Heide

      What a lovely comment … you’ve just made my WEEK! I suppose it is the human condition to always think “the grass is greener on the other side” (does this expression exist in French?). I’m truly honored this post helped you appreciate Paris a bit more.

  16. How wonderful to read that your work also brings you to this fabulous city. I’m amazed at all the underground places to explore. It’s a city you could visit again and again and never tire of the history and culture and the oh so fabulous food. Thanks for introducing me to Corey. He sounds like an amazing friend. I know he must feel the same about you.

    • 38 Heide

      “It’s a city you could visit again and again and never tire of the history and culture and the oh so fabulous food.” EXACTLY! I don’t think even 10 lifetimes there would be enough for me …

      And you’re welcome for the introduction to Corey. He really is a gem, and I’m grateful for the wonderful little adventures we’ve had together. I just (selfishly) hope I’ll still get to hang out with him occasionally, now that he’s literally world-famous! 🙂

  17. 39 Robert Lavallee

    thank you for the tour i hope i will be found exceptable

  18. Beautiful pieces! I would love to visit Paris someday!

    • 42 Heide

      I very much hope you’ll have the opportunity to visit Paris someday … but until then, I promise you Corey’s free video tours are the next-best thing. 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping by!

  19. I am visiting paris in June! This has made me more excited!

    • 44 Heide

      How wonderful! I hope you’ll have a marvelous time — it should be beautiful in June.

  20. This is the sweetest! You never know what could happen if you just reach out. Inspiring.

    • 46 Heide

      The young man certainly inspired *me* by reaching out as he did. It really is marvelous how we can connect with others in a profound way sometimes when we let our guard down. Thank you so much for stopping by, Jessica!

  21. I will forever be grateful to Corey, because that is how I e-met you, Heide. I found him on freshly pressed with some gorgeous snowy Paris photos and somehow it lead me to your blog which in turn has been such a wonderful blessing in my life. Your kind sweet spirit is so evident even though we have never met. How wonderfully serendipitous. And I love Corey’s work, he is a very talented creative.

    • 48 Heide

      I think this may be the sweetest comment I’ve ever received here, Rochelle. I’m actually misting up! Thank you. And please know that the feeling is 100% mutual. You are a blessing to everyone who is lucky enough to be graced by your presence in their life. ❤️

  22. Paris is my dream place ❤
    New to wordpress and your’s blog is the first one I read and followed. Really need some tips .

  23. Funny, I mentioned in my post about a taste of the left bank that I had a dinner of Breton galettes – that was at the Breizh cafe! At an outside table. Mine was salmon and the photo I took has a pedestrian crossing in it, just like yours. 🙂
    A very interesting post. Now you’ve done it! I have to go back. I’m missing the pistachio escargots from Du pain et des Idees.

    • 55 Heide

      Ha! What a funny coincidence about the Breizh Café … and the pedestrian crossing through your frame, as well. Glad to hear my post made you want to go back to Paris (merely repaying the favor, as you have given me nostalgia for my favorite city so many times). With any luck, our paths will cross there one of these days! I won’t fight you for the pistachio escargots, though. 😉


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