Interview: Jane S. Gabin – author, inquisitive observer & wanderer in Paris
Welcome to the ‘MyFrenchLife™ Member Interview Series’ – interviews with savvy Francophiles from all around the world capturing their passion secrets and tips, all about their favourite places in France, from Paris to Provence.
As you read these interviews you’ll become immersed in the individual member’s ‘French Life’. You’ll also learn why France is so special in their eyes & how they came to be so passionate about this country.
Discover so much more about France in the process and you’ll personally benefit from the tips & discoveries these savvy Francophile frequent travellers generously share.
Introducing Jane Gabin
I was an Anglophile for years, probably because I was an English major and taught British Literature. But there were always French things around the house, mostly that my father had brought home from his stay in Paris during WWII.
He was there for about 2 years. He taught me French phrases. I still remember going to a French restaurant in NYC when I was a child, and what I ate – decades later!
This all solidified when I went back to study his life and followed his footsteps in Paris. And our family name — looks French, non?
*See below for information on Jane’s debut novel: ‘The Paris Photo‘.
Why do I love this city so much?
- I spent the requisite 3 days in Paris when I graduated from college, doing the whirlwind tour of Europe.
- When I returned in 2012, having found someone my father connected within 1944, that was the start of my real attachment.
- Since then, I have been to Paris seven times.
My first trip to Paris
I learned some French (at least enough to read, and a bit to converse) when I was… ahem… older. It is not easy!
Spanish, which I learned in school, comes more naturally.
I subscribe to many French blogs and joined the Alliance Francaise.
And I prefer going to Paris on my own. I like wandering the streets, preferably far away from tourists, and getting into little conversations with people I meet.
Am I a different person in Paris?
I am the quiet observer. I like myself in Paris and feel confident in what I do.
I’m not afraid of asking questions or of wandering into courtyards. I am inquisitive.
If the door to an apartment house is open, I go in to look; if I am questioned, I just say, ah, the door was standing open, so . . . it is quickly seen that I am American (how does anyone know that?) and there is no problem.
My favourite arrondissement in Paris
I like the 13th.
It is where my friend lives and there are not many Americans.
It is familiar and comfortable.
My favourite walks…
My favourite purchases
Don’t miss the wonderful stationery items at:-
L’Ecritoire on rue Saint Martin, #61, 75004, Paris.
3 mins from the Centre Pompidou
Métro: Hôtel de Ville, Rambuteau, Châtelet Les Halles.
The store describes itself as specialists in the
Pleasure of writing and the art of paper.
“L’Ecritoire Paris offers a selection of high quality papers and a large collection of fountain pens, writing and calligraphy instruments, colourful and metallic inks, inkwells, notebooks, albums, beautiful letterheads, envelopes of all shapes and colours, a multitude of cards, wax seals, natural multicolored sealing wax, and other creative objects.”
A recent memorable experience
One day I was walking along in the 7th when a woman about my age approached, asking:
Excusez-moi, parlez vous anglais?
She had mistaken me for a Parisienne! I was so happy and flattered that I pretended to be Parisienne for a few moments.
Most notable exhibitions
I recommend the Musee Jacquemart-Andre in the 8th arrondissement. There are always intriguing exhibitions in this incredible 19th-Century building.
A few tips I’d like to share…
- Be open to new places and events.
- Save at least one day to wander without an itinerary.
- Spend a long weekend in St-Malo.
- Rent a car in Provence and just explore – it’s all gorgeous and more than you see in postcards!
- Avoid chain restaurants and try to eat in local places where no one speaks English and people bring their dogs! Unfortunately, I do not remember any specific place, except that you could try Cafe Le Monaco, at 2 rue Vulpian in the 13th, which I always enjoy.
Be like me and just go where your feet take you!
Jane, thank you so much for sharing your life and love of Paris with us. Your recommendations will certainly be useful for our readers planning a trip to the French capital.
And if you’d like to know more about Jane S. Gabin, the author:
Jane is a professional educator and writer with a focus on lifelong learning, cross-cultural studies, family histories, the teaching of personal narrative, and the New Woman in art and literature. She lives in North Carolina.
Here you can buy her books including her recently published debut novel: ‘The Paris Photo’ which has been described as “engaging and engrossing from the start”.
“The Paris Photo compassionately conveys the story of American soldier Ben Gordon and his relationship with a young mother and her son just after the Liberation of Paris in August 1944. Despite the strength of this relationship during the war, Ben’s eventual return to America separates them. Decades later, Ben’s daughter stitches the relationship back together when she discovers a photograph of her late father with an unknown woman and boy. Eager to uncover more of her father’s past, she travels to Paris to learn about the people in the photograph. The Paris Photo lifts characters out of the pages of a history book, richly depicting the human emotion that pervades our memories.
The Paris Photo will appeal to lovers of historical fiction, particularly those with an interest in WWII. Jane S. Gabin creates a vivid picture of life in Paris during the dark days of the Nazi occupation, as well as a depiction of the contemporary city that still carries scars from the war. Interweaving mystery, romance, and historical research, The Paris Photo demonstrates how the traumas of wartime loss persist into the present.”
To read other MyFrenchLife member interviews – inspiring Francophiles all of them:
1. Keith Van Sickle
2. Ray Johnstone
3. Henrie Richer
4. Janet Hulstrand
5. Virginia Jones
6. Gina Hunt
7. Jane S. Gabin – this one.
1. © MyFrenchLife logo
2. © Jane S. Gabin
3. Google Maps
4. Père Lachaise Cemetary via Paris.info.com
5. Musée Jacquemart-André by Chiho via Wikipedia
6. Cover: Novel ‘The Paris Photo’ by Jane S. Gabin via Amazon