PRAISE for Entrée to Black Paris™

As the creator of Entrée to Black Paris™, I am constantly striving to bring you insightful and entertaining information on this blog and on Facebook. I also work hard to make our private, guided walking tours and activities everything that you want them to be, and am deeply gratified when you report back to me that I have done just that!

Here are several comments and full-fledged testimonials from Entrée to Black Paris™ friends and clients that I hope will encourage newcomers to:

  • follow the blog
  • join us on Facebook
  • take advantage of Entrée to Black Paris™ tours when visiting Paris.

L'Afrique
Eugène Delaplanche
Musée d'Orsay
© Discover Paris!


Entrée to Black Paris™ Blog:

I just wanted to personally thank you for your Entrée To Black Paris web site. I check in daily through Facebook; always excited to read your wonderful research on Blacks in Paris. I'm filmmaker currently making a doc on the history of my family in Harlem. I'm a fourth generation New Yorker and my family has just celebrated the 90th anniversary of our brownstone ownership, which I presently work out of, and where I'm presently raising my three year old daughter. So you can imagine how much I appreciate and enjoy the wealth of history you bring to your site. My wife, who is also a writer, and I have frequently visited Paris for more than ten years and have discussed constantly the idea of becoming expats. Recently becoming parents have postponed that move of course, but we are attempting to try annually rent an apartment in Paris for a month. We desperately want Paris back in our lives and to also regularly have it in our daughter's life as well. Your posting on black history as well as black life in Paris continues to inspire the journey in my own life and I just wanted thank you. Hopefully very soon my family and I will finally get to reunite with our city, and possibly meet over a cafe.
Thanks and Peace
Lance Cain
http://www.cainfilms.com/

*****
I'm Black and I Travel (a blog)
Speaking of places to go, regular readers of this blog already know the ongoing love affair I have with Paris. If you’re not clear why, Entreé to Black Paris, will clue you in on some of the reasons why.

It’s written by American expat Monique Y. Wells, and one of the things she does is highlight beautiful, creative black American men and women, each doing their own thing and adding their own glow to the City of Light. Truly inspiring stuff.

Read this blog at your own peril, however. After the first few entries, you may feel a sudden, uncontrollable urge to start packing. If you do, give Monique a shout. She does tours.
Greg Gross
Read more...

Monique (center) with a group of ladies celebrating a birthday in Paris
with The Black Pearl Walk
© Discover Paris!


Facebook:

Brenda Ngozi Stallings at the Great Black Music exposition
Image courtesy of Brenda Stallings

Thank you for all of your posts. When I'm visiting Paris, I am aware of the exhibits and cultural events taking place because of them.

In particular, thank you so much for posting about the Great Black Music Exhibit. I had a chance to visit and it was brilliant. I spent 2.5 hours there and it still wasn't enough time to soak in ALL of the history presented!
Brenda Ngozi Stallings

*****
I love your postings, great variety, and very enjoyable. I love the art depicting african themes, such as the african sphinx, and this lady. I would love to hear about expats living in France.
Ollie Jefferson ImmigrationAttorney

African Sphinx
© Discover Paris!

*****
I love your posts and the photos that accompany them. Every one is like a mini history lesson. They are great previews for your tours, one of which I cannot wait to take next summer!
Debra Hunter

*****
I agree with Debra. You're providing us with invaluable history lessons. Please continue!
Priscilla Lalisse-Jespersen

*****
Invaluable treasure trove of information that Drew and I find both interesting and informative, particularly since he's an academic and historian and we are both big on diversity and inclusion. It paints Paris in a more attractive "global" light. Thank you so very much for giving us a reason to revisit Paris!
Terri Yip Hoi

***** 
Thank you for Entrée to Black Paris... It's very important for us across that pond to stay informed on current events and to stay in the loop. For that WE really thank you!!!
Chef Dwight Evans 

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For information on Entrée to Black Paris™ tours, click here.


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Gourmet Paris Walks and Activities:

Dr. Irma McClaurin at Ladurée
© Discover Paris!

Want to savor Paris? Take the pastry and chocolate tour.  It is a wonderful way to learn the history of this delicious food, and the walking takes the edge off any guilt you might feel for sampling at every stop.
Irma McClaurin, PhD, Anthropologist
Raleigh, North Carolina

*****
One of our gourmet walks is featured in food aficionado Lové Anthony’s Love2Eat video series! Click below to view.



*****

Food aficionados from Black Paris Divas take their first gourmet walk with Discover Paris!

Black Paris Divas Gourmet Walk
© Discover Paris!

Monique and her husband put together a great group of shops for the tour. I wanted info about cheese, chocolate, wine and pastries and breads! Got that and more...
- Deborah Washington

I enjoyed the Gourmet Walk, no doubt...I found the tour to be very informative since I consider myself to be a "Gourmet Foodie" of MOST (not all) sorts-LOL!!
- Winfrey Woody
Read more...

*****

Katie Couvson of Katie's Jams and Jellies talks about the cooking class that Discover Paris! arranged for her:

Katie Couvson and Chef Eric
© Discover Paris!

I am still bubbling with excitement about the Croissant Cooking Class I took in Paris. My children will tell you that I have not stopped talking about the class and the instructor Eric; I can’t wait to get started at home.

This class provided me with the information I required to make successful croissants. Although I had made them before, there was always a problem with the proper way to make the laminated dough. The class provided culinary skills in preparing the dough, the proper ingredients, as well as rolling and shaping the dough.

Prior to this class my croissants always went flat once they cooled, but now I know what I was doing wrong and will not make that mistake in the future. My children will appreciate that too.

Although Paris is a wonderful place to visit with all of the things it has to offer a tourist, the most important part of my trip was the cooking class.

Thank you Monique, for setting up this event for me; it means more to me than you can imagine! I look forward to taking a different class the next time I am in Paris.
- Katie Couvson


Entrée to Black Paris™ Walks and Presentations:

Dr. Adunni Anderson talks about the walks and presentations that Tom and I provided for an excursion called "The Many Colors of Paris":



*****

La Cima Charter School Scholars and Chaperones at the Luxembourg Garden
© Discover Paris!

We learned about the Entrée to Black Paris tour from the US Embassy. Monique came highly recommended and accommodated us with a well-tailored tour for our group. Our group included 12 5th graders and 7 adult chaperones from a charter school in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

We wanted the tour to be relevant to things our scholars have studied, including the experiences of Black Americans in Paris and other institutions that impact Black people around the globe. The tour met our expectations and we all learned a great deal about France’s role in the slave trade, famous Black American artists and writers who lived in Paris and several Black political leaders in Paris and their impact on government.

Students and chaperones alike enjoyed the tour. It definitely broadened all of our knowledge about the city and there were relevant connections made to our own lives in New York City.

The location was also stunning. The Jardin du Luxembourg is such a beautiful and peaceful place. It was a great way to begin our week in Paris.

I would highly recommend ETBP tours and thoroughly appreciated the time we spent with Monique. The tour made me love Paris even more and feel tremendous pride that we were able to bring the city to life for our scholars in this way.
Tara Phillips
Executive Director, La Cima Charter School
Brooklyn, NY


*****


University of Florida students at Le Beau Chêne
© Discover Paris!

I escorted 18 students who were taking an African Americans in Paris class to Le Vésinet. We visited the mansion that Josephine Baker once lived in. We saw some great views of the home while Monique Wells told us about Ms. Baker's life there and showed photos of her at the home. The presentation was excellent. The home is also located in a beautiful community outside Paris. I was glad that the students got a chance to see the affluent homes in this quiet town. We also walked around the town and saw the church where Ms. Baker worshiped and other places of relevance in her life there. I highly recommend this tour!
Dr. Sharon D. Wright Austin
Associate Professor of Political Science
Director of African American Studies
The University of Florida


*****


Cheryl Adams, Monique Y. Wells, and Delores Jones
on the "Black Paris after World War II" Walk
© Discover Paris!

This walking tour focused on the lives and accomplishments of Black Americans along with other black expats. ... If you know anything about the great black writers, poets, artists, performers, and political activist of post WWII, this tour will enhanced your understanding of their lives. I wish that I had scheduled a longer time for the tour, because I felt that Monique was just getting started. The tour was so intriguing that I had a renewed interest in many of the names mentioned. [It] was the highlight of my dream vacation, so if ever you plan a visit, be sure to include it in your itinerary!
Cheryl Adams

*****


The Mayfield Family on the "Black Paris after World War II" Walk
© Discover Paris!

Monique Wells of "Discover Paris" provided our family with an exceptional tour of the influence of Blacks in Paris after WWII. We believe that we could not have received such a thorough perspective, if not for our tour with "Discover Paris." We highly recommend that everyone take this tour for a fascinating perspective of this wonderful city.
Kim Mayfield

*****


The Morris Family in Paris
© Discover Paris!

"The Black Pearl Walk" is a great little guide by Discover Black Paris. Very interesting! A highlight was walking past an old house that once published the works of Black writers (it is now a fish market) and going past Le Select, a restaurant that opened in 1925 and that was a popular gathering place for African Americans. The guide shared that Chester Himes wrote A Jealous Man Can't Win there and that James Baldwin used Le Select as the setting for his novel Giovanni's Room. The writer in me is VERY excited...as is my inner historian!
Monique W. Morris

*****

Kimberly Collins (back row, right) and classmates from
Spalding University Low-residency MFA Program
© Discover Paris!

I found Monique's tour to be the missing link to my Paris experience.

I visited Paris as part of a low-residency MFA program offered by Spalding University. I heard about Monique through a friend who had contracted her for a program she worked for while in Paris. Neither I nor my classmates were disappointed in her tour. In fact, we were more disappointed that the school had not arranged this tour and I told my school this as well. As a class, we were instructed to read the non-fiction book Americans in Paris. Well, what we discovered during our Entrée to Black Paris tour was that much of what was discussed in the book failed to represent the full political and art life of Paris because it neglected the African experience.

Many of my classmates who are not of African descent noted that what they enjoyed most about Monique's presentation was her ability to connect the past with the present and to our experience as Americans. She made the necessary connections to make the tour relevant, interesting and a great learning experience. My classmates could not thank me enough for coordinating the tour and I cannot thank Monique enough for elevating my experience and knowledge of my African past and present for myself, my guests, and my classmates.
Kimberly Collins

*****


Monique Y. Wells and Francine Allen at
Notre Dame Cathedral
© Discover Paris!


The buildings and streets of Paris tell a deep and rich history of the African-American experience, a history that Monique Wells and Tom Reeves of Discover Paris! helped me to discover. Their meticulous tour planning enabled me, as a first-time visitor, to travel with ease throughout Paris, learning of African-American history in a context and setting far beyond the U.S. border.

The ease with which Discover Paris! enabled me to travel throughout Paris and to other areas of France allowed me to focus on my primary purpose for visiting the City—delving into the African-American experience in the City. As Monique revealed in her tour, this experience is wide and deep, with building after building in Paris testifying to the black presence in Paris. There stands, for instance, the Casino de Paris where Josephine Baker performed. Then, among the never-ending array of Paris cafes sits the famous Café de Flore where, in one of its upper rooms, James Baldwin wrote Go Tell It on the Mountain . . .

This legacy, this historical fact of the black presence in Paris is not merely a matter of history. African Americans are still living and working in Paris, as is the case of novelist Jake Lamar. After Discover Paris! set up an interview for me with Lamar, I learned from this Bronx native who has chosen to make his home in Paris that, for him, one main attraction of the City is the love Paris shows the literary artist, regardless of his or her level of notoriety. This stands in contrast, Lamar says, to the U.S., which tends to give greatest attention to the most acclaimed literary artists.
Francine Allen
Morehouse College
To read the entire review, click here.

*****


Monique and Professor Saladin Ambar at EccoMusée
© Discover Paris!

I can't thank you enough for leading the tours of Barbès and the Chateau Rouge market and Black Paris after World War II. I thought I knew a bit about the black Diaspora in Paris and now I know better! You made each street, apartment, and cafe come alive with your insights into the past and present. I hope our paths cross again the next time I'm in Paris and look forward to seeking you out for other tours you might be leading. Again, thanks for making my trip to Paris more than hoped for -- that is hard to do!
Saladin M. Ambar
Assistant Professor
Lehigh University
Department of Political Science

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For information on Entrée to Black Paris™ tours, click here.


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The Bernards at La Rotonde
© Discover Paris!

One of the highlights of our stay in Paris was "The Entrée to Black Paris Walking Tour" in the Montparnasse district. Monique's passion for art and the artists was contagious. History ceased to become a relic and became a living, breathing entity when Monique began to speak. Walking down the Parisian streets, seeing the dwellings of the artists and the establishments which they patronized and sold their art was so inspiring we decided to become involved with Les Amis de Beauford Delaney. If you want to experience Paris as the artists who lived in the Montparnasse district and see and learn about a part of Paris that only insiders know, you would be remiss if you didn't take "The Entrée to Black Paris Walking Tour".
Mr. & Mrs. Z. Bernard
Chicago, Illinois
*****

Dorothy M. Miller is an 82-year-old traveler who recently (Summer 2011) flew to Paris solo and took our one-day, self-guided, “African-American History in Paris” walking tour. She asked us to post her comments below in the hope that they will serve as inspiration for other seniors who are thinking of venturing out on their own.

“I followed most of the walking itinerary that you sent. Walking down avenue George V, I discovered the American Cathedral. There was a Gospel Concert that evening so I returned. Climbed the steps at L'Arc de Triomphe but decided not to do so at Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. Appreciated the suggestions for eating stops that you included in the itinerary. Was confronted with a variety of petitioners the moment I exited from the Metro, but thanks to your tips, I had my answer.”
– D. Miller
*****
I engaged Discover Paris! for a bus tour of Paris that featured French and black history for my group of sixteen travel professionals. Our guides, Monique Wells and Tom Reeves, were prompt, flexible, and well prepared for our excursion. They are personable and knowledgeable tour guides who work well together as a husband and wife team. The tour was very informative with regard to French history and black history, and all participants were intrigued and pleased with the facts and anecdotes presented.
Pam Biller

*****

From creative walks and professional presentations, Discover Paris leverages their treasure trove of knowledge offering an insight into the literary and cultural heart beat of Paris - past and present. Having such a resource made for a wonderful partnership, adding to our year-long programming for members (in the case of the 20th Century Literary Women walk) and for our general public (in the case of the Black Paris/Myth of a Colorblind France presentation). Looking forward to continued collaboration!
The American Library in Paris

Advertisement for La Revue Nègre, 1925

*****
We'd spent hours in the beautiful grounds of the Luxembourg Garden on each of our several visits to Paris, so when we decided to make the trip with our granddaughter Katie, we arranged for a Black History Tour with Monique Wells, with the garden as the heart of the walk. We thought that perhaps it would add a little interest for us on yet another stop at our favorite garden.

Jim Thompson, Monique, Katie Roberts, and Kathleen Wilson
© Discover Paris!

Oh, my! We'd never really seen the garden at all. The lively, vibrant culture brought to Paris by Black writers, artists, and musicians through several decades - and the lively, vibrant culture offered to them in return - is at every turn, both outside and inside the garden. Josephine Baker, Chester Himes, Richard Wright, Lois Mailou Jones, those jazz clubs - came to life for us. And there was the Statue of Liberty surprise as well.

We ended our tour at Fabrice Hyber's art installation, "Le cri, l'ecrit" commemorating the abolition of the slave trade in France.

If we'd had another week, we'd have booked a tour with Monique every day.

Maybe next year!
Kathleen Wilson
*****

The number 1 reason I enjoyed Discover Paris was the people. Everyone was pleasant, knowledgeable, and punctual and all were willing to tailor each tour to my specific needs.
Celeste Hart
(Click here to read a full testimonial from Celeste.)

*****
On a glorious spring day in Paris, I met Monique at Maubert Mutualite in the 5th arr. to walk and talk about Black Paris after World War II. Coming from Australia, this is certainly an area which does not even remotely come into our history lessons.

I found Monique’s knowledge and descriptions of the lives of many of the Black writers and artists to be fascinating and informative. We walked along the streets where they worked and lived and saw the cafes where they no doubt spent many hours, and learnt of the many influences they have played in the establishment of the Black literati in Paris.

I thoroughly enjoyed my morning, would certainly recommend it to people who are interested in the history of Paris, and I will definitely look for more books to read on this subject.
Barbara Paroissien


Monique and Barbara Paroissien at Présence Africaine
© Discover Paris!

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For information on Entrée to Black Paris™ tours, click here.


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For anyone looking for a tour with a warm and knowledgeable guide that goes beyond the usual monuments and landmarks, I highly recommend taking a Discover Paris! tour.
Arcadia Letkemann
TMM Public Outreach Coordinator/Special Projects
American Embassy Paris
(Click here for a full testimonial by Arcadia.)

Presenting Black History in Paris
Place Josephine Baker
© Discover Paris!

*****
It was such a pleasure to spend the morning with you and have our own private chance to talk and listen. I got so much valuable information and enjoyed meeting you immensely.... Somuch of what you explained and filled me in on is important for my work.
Julie Landsmann

*****


I was fortunate enough to take two private tours (“Black Paris after WWII” and “Rendezvous Eighteenth”) with Discover Paris recently, and cannot find enough superlatives as descriptors. Monique Wells is not only overflowing with a wealth of historical knowledge, but also has a memory-bank full of anecdotes, legends, gossip, etc. that adds tremendously to the experience.

“Black Paris after WWII” dispelled many of the notions I had about the travels and eventual move of many African Americans to Paris. Although there are a myriad of sites relevant to and part of the lives of the likes of James Baldwin, Buford Delaney, Chester Himes, and Richard Wright, their lives were equally intertwined with Charles de Gaulle, Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Beach, Pablo Picasso, etc. It was Monique’s bringing together of the interactions of these two groups and how these interactions affected both specifically the lives of blacks in Paris and the wider literary and artistic society as a whole that was so fascinating and filled in so many blanks for me.

And “Rendezvous Eighteenth” was a real eye-opener; having very little knowledge of this part of Paris, this walk has made me want to explore the area in more depth. It was interesting to not only put oneself in the scenes of Jake’s book, but also to learn how this area has evolved over the decades.

I will definitely recommend these tours to others, and am looking forward to taking others tours with them myself.
Vanessa Hulme
Paris, France


*****

As James Baldwin writes: "In Paris, I lived in all parts of the city—on the Right Bank and the Left, among the bourgeoisie and among les misérables, and knew all kinds of people, from pimps and prostitutes in Pigalle to Egyptian bankers in Neuilly. This may sound extremely unprincipled or even obscurely immoral: I found it healthy. I love to talk to people, all kinds of people, and almost everyone, as I hope we still know, loves a man who loves to listen." Indeed, Baldwin captures beautifully the hope, dream, and mystique of Paris, as did Discover Paris' Rendezvous Eighteenth tour, experienced by my students in 2008 during my "Black Paris" study abroad course. Meeting and engaging with the celebrated author himself, Lamar, was both sublime and instructive! A great time had by all! Highly, highly recommended!
Dr. Trica Danielle Keaton

Dr. Trica Keaton's "Black Paris" Study Abroad Students
with Jake Lamar and Monique Wells
Photo courtesy of Dr. Trica Danielle Keaton

*****
My number one reason (that I enjoyed my Entrée to Black Paris walk) was how well versed you were in the subject. Your level of knowledge and expertise was penultimate only to the beauty surrounding your lovely city.
Char Pearson

Ayanna and Char near the Café Tournon
© Discover Paris!

*****
An Alien Parisienne (a blog)
...I said to Monique at the end of the tour, “This was a breath of fresh air!” for it really was. In a tourist industry that is focused on very white, upper-class pursuits and interests, this tour showed me a Paris that felt down-to-earth and real. This tour did not show a “fantasy Paris” that glosses over some of the intense and bloody, discriminatory parts of French history, but a Paris that shows the city has drawn people from all socio-economic, cultural, and racial backgrounds and has a history rich in diversity. I loved as a bookish, literature-geek chick the emphasis on literary Paris in this tour.
Karin Bates Snyder
Read more...

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For information on Entrée to Black Paris™ tours, click here.


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Guide Review - Black History in and Around the Luxembourg Garden
About.com

The tour begins outside Luxembourg Gardens, most commonly associated with two celebrated women who made Paris their home: the Italian-born queen and wife to Henry IV, Marie de Medicis, and American writer Gertrude Stein, whose literary salon was at Rue de Fleurus in close reach of the gardens. A lesser-known fact about the area, however, was that it has also been a hotbed for some of the most noteworthy black intellectuals, writers, artists and other historical figures, whether native French or immigrants. The Discover Paris tour purports to shed light on the notable people and places related to black history and artistic achievement in and around the Luxembourg Gardens.
Courtney Traub
Read more...

Tom (creator of the Luxembourg Garden walk) and Courtney
© Discover Paris!

*****
Paris Focus (a blog)
Monique shared the facts, stories of the past with photos, and contemporary aspects of black life in Paris. Without imposing her own opinions to slant our views of controversial facts, she leaves us to contemplate Black Paris, post WW2. She watches our expressions as she smiles. She knows so much about Paris, it’s people, history, struggles, successes, it’s impossible to hear it all in 2 hours.

'If I told you everything, I’d have to shoot you.' is an expression used in my Military career.
If she told me everything she knew, I wonder all that I would know?
Her tour makes me more curious to know more, learn more, read more, ask questions, find facts...
Florence Richburg
Read more...

*****
30 Days in Paris (a blog)
It is so much fun, and educational, to have a guide as knowledgeable and passionate about a topic as Monique. We wandered the streets of the Latin Quarter for 2 hours as she pointed out historic locations and told us about interesting facts about the black experience in Paris. Did you know the “Latin” quarter is called that due to the Latin language spoken here in the past. The area has strong educational / university roots.

As a newcomer to Paris and Paris history, I was surprised to discover that African-Americans in Paris are just a small percentage of the black population. Paris is a melting pot of people of color from all over the world. But France has been slow to recognize this growing segment of their inhabitants. Monique brings today’s and yesterdays experiences to life.
Bruce Murray and Pamela Ford
Read more...

Bruce and Pamela (left) on the Black Paris after WWII walk
© Discover Paris!

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Entrée to Black Paris!™ is a Discover Paris! blog.