Heather Stimmler-Hall, author of ‘Naughty Paris: A Lady’s Guide to the Sexy City’
The first sentence of ‘Naughty Paris: A Lady’s Guide to the Sexy City’, a city guide for women written by Heather Stimmler-Hall, immediately had me hooked. Paris has always been a place where I feel like anything is possible. But how exactly is it liberating? I couldn’t wait to read more.
Stimmler-Hall delivers. The guide uncovers so many different places in the French capital that make for an entirely different experience than your high school trip abroad. Cafés, lingerie shops, spas, hotels – there’s something that every woman will love.
As I was reading the book, I realised that Naughty Paris is meant to empower women. It encourages us to give in to the things we like, to spoil ourselves, and to feel confident while doing so. We can in fact allow ourselves to relax into a lush spa experience, enjoy cocktails at an elegant bar, or delve into our own private desires; be that a Ladurée addiction or a sexy date with a Frenchman.
This guide is intended for women who are seeking to treat themselves to an entirely feminine experience. It’s the best gift you could give yourself – a trip that is all about what you want. For women who have little ‘me’ time, this book is going to make you dream. Even if you’re miles away from Paris, you will feel that you’ve vicariously experienced the City of Lights from Heather’s writing.
And this isn’t the only space where Heather has lent her expertise. She’s created the Paris Pastry app with renowned chef and writer, David Lebovitz; published books; developed the informative Secrets of Paris blog; and gives fantastic tours of the city. Not to mention she’s an accomplished marathoner! So when we say you can trust Heather – we really do mean it.
We (The Parisettes) had the honor of speaking with the author herself, American expat Heather Stimmler-Hall. A Paris-dweller for the last twenty years, she is an expert on the City of Light and has provided some exclusive insights into the book for MyFrenchLife™ readers.
Patricia Rosas (PR): This is the second edition of ‘Naughty Paris: A Lady’s Guide to the Sexy City’. Where did the inspiration for this book concept come from originally?
Heather Stimmler-Hall (HSH): It came from a few different places. First, I was writing travel articles about Paris for ELLE Magazine (where I was travel editor for the website back in 1999) and the kind of hotels, sights, shops and nightlife you’d include for that audience were generally sexier than for the average guidebook audience… It just happened that designer Sonia Rykiel had just opened a sex toy shop under one of her shops, so it was very trendy and a few other ‘naughty’ shops specifically for women opened around town.
Second, since my website was called Secrets of Paris, many readers emailed me asking about ‘couples clubs’, which I knew nothing about until I found a French guide called ‘Paris Sexy’ which was pretty hardcore, more for men than women. So I saw a gap in the market for a guidebook for women of the Sex in the City generation: fun, sexy, trendy, and a little naughty.
PR: I love the focus of the chapter, ‘A Woman in Paris’ and the ethereal Parisienne. After living in Paris for years, in what ways do you feel like a Parisienne?
HSH: I’m entering my 20th year now (!!), and the only thing that makes me feel truly Parisienne is my love for beautiful, sexy things, especially lingerie and perfume, that I think we tend to categorize into either ‘practical/clean’ or ‘trashy/overwhelming’ in the US.
PR: You feature so many beautiful places, and the pictures are gorgeous. How did you go about preparing for this book? Were there any standout moments or experiences?
HSH: The first edition took three years, and once we started the second edition, that took almost three years as well! It’s hard to choose the places to include or leave out, but I try and lean towards the ones that are also photogenic, since that’s how we have to present them.
The photographer, Kirsten, lives in Canada, so the organizational effort to have everything ready when she comes to photograph is a huge challenge. No matter how hard I try to have all of the locations chosen in advance, sometimes we discover places while she’s here and we end up setting up a photo shoot on the fly. It’s a lot of fun working together, probably too much fun! Kirsten is a lot naughtier than I am at heart, so she pushes me to take risks with some of the naughtier locations that make me nervous, but in the end the shots always come out gorgeous.
PR: So many incredible locations are featured in this guide. What are some of your favorite spots in the Naughty Paris?
HSH: I love the lingerie shops, and this edition’s selection of drinking and dining is much better than the last, even though those aren’t always easy to photograph. It’s always great to include fun people, too. Father Sebastiaan’s fang-making services aren’t for everyone, but vampire lovers will be thrilled, lol!
PR: Could you tell us a bit about the ‘green’ publisher of this book, L’Imprimerie Escourbiac?
HSH: Escourbiac is a green printer in southwestern France that I found searching online. They do beautiful work, many coffee-table art books and museum catalogs. They’re also wonderful to work with, and are truly dedicated to being as green as possible. It cost us more to print here in France, but I think the trade-off was worth it, and the second edition really looks and feels amazing.
PR: What other projects are you working on at the moment – and how do you manage to keep so organized?
HSH: If you saw my desk (and my inbox) you wouldn’t see any sense of organization at all! I probably spread myself a bit too thin considering I have no staff, but I can’t help it, I always have a hundred projects I want to start. At the moment my website Secrets of Paris needs a complete overhaul after 15 years, but I’m trying to finish a new book, a very different one than I usually do, about the state of the Paris tourism industry from an inside perspective. I usually try and keep my opinions to myself, but after 15 years in this industry I have a lot to say, lol!
Final quick-fire questions
Pain au chocolat !
Pierre Hermé or Ladurée?
They’re the same to me.
Metro or bus?
Bois de Boulogne or Bois de Vincennes?
Rive gauche or rive droite ?
I’m totally Gauche, there’s no place like home! 😉
For more information on the second edition of ‘Naughty Paris: A Lady’s Guide to the Sexy City’ click here.
Thank you, Heather, for sharing more of your story with us, we are truly inspired!
Do you look for guides to Paris that are a bit different? Share your discoveries with us at MyFrenchLife™ in the comments below.All images © Kristen Loop.