Any first-time visitor to Paris, intent on fully understanding the fabric, history and architecture of the city, would do well to book a tour with Richard Nahem’s “Eye Prefer Paris.” Nahem’s a native New Yorker who’s now living, working and taking fine photographs in the City of Light – and he’s got his tour gigs down pat. We spent three hours moseying through the Marais with him in July, and feel certain you’ll want to do the same the next time you’re there. Here we have a brief email interview with him:
Your background in the U.S?
I was a chef and caterer in New York for 21 years before I moved here. My specialty was catering fashion photo shoots for fashion magazines and catalog shoots, including Elle, Vogue, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bergdorf Goodman. I was also a chocolatier and pastry maker, and had my own shop in mid-town Manhattan with my own recipe for chocolate truffles.
How did you arrive at the idea of a tour of Paris?
The first year I moved here in 2005, I was taking a year off deciding what to do, as I didn’t want to do catering anymore. When my friends and family heard this, they came in droves to visit. I would walk them around the Marais where I live and show them all the interesting and cool things in the area. A few months later I came up with the idea to do private tours with small groups the same way I did them with my friends and family, more like a friend showing you the city rather than a formal guide just spouting facts and history.
How many different kinds of tours do you do?
Since I’ve had such a diverse career in different fields, I do many types of tours including other neighborhoods – Marais, Montmartre, Saint Germain des Pres and the Latin Quarter – plus some specialty tours such as food tours, chocolate and pastry tours, the flea market and shopping tours.
How many every year?
I average anywhere between four to seven tours a week in my busy season.
Your favorite highlights?
I really love taking clients to off-the-beaten-path, little side streets in the Marais and Saint Germain. The Palais Royal, which is not a big tourist attraction, is a personal favorite.
The intent of the tours?
To show clients the Paris they may never see on their own and wouldn’t know how to access.
A little about Monsieur Haussman?
Actually it isn’t fair to only credit Haussmann for making modern Paris. It was originally Napoleon III’s plan to make Paris the most beautiful and modern city in the world. He hired Haussmann to help him fulfill the dream, although I am not taking anything away from him. I think the building code of six-story apartment buildings in light colored stone with beautiful iron balconies were Haussmann’s most impactful contribution to the design of the city.
Why live in Marais?
It wasn’t necessarily my first choice to live in when I first moved here, even though I always liked it, but we lucked out and found a great apartment in an convenient location and have lived here ever since.
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