Whether you’ve been to Paris, or are planning your first trip to the City of Light, Paris in Stride: An Insider’s Walking Guide needs to be a go-to for experiencing Paris like a local. Paris in Stride is filled with over 150 watercolor illustrations featuring some of the most well-known monuments, gardens, markets and restaurants. You won’t even make it past the first few pages before you will want to jump on a plane to Paris with nothing but a copy of this book and a trusty French translation app.
Paris in Stride offers so much more than your standard travel guide, and features seven daylong walking tours that the author and illustrator walked themselves to give us a first hand account of what to expect on each tour.
Details about each location along the tour is written by Sarah Moroz, and beautifully illustrated by Jessie Kanelos Weiner a Franco-American Illustrator, Author and food stylist based in Paris. Jessie has quite an impressive resume and her work has been seen in Vogue, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair France and M Le Magazine de Monte just to name a few. Jessie lives in Vincennes, where she makes her home with her husband, a photographer of French architecture.
In this interview, Jessie shares about her arrival in Paris (just two weeks after graduating university), her life as an illustrator and a few of her favorite spots to check out in Paris.
You left for Paris two weeks after graduating university, what were your thoughts the moments you stepped off the plane in Paris?
I was frightened! I knew it was what I wanted to do, but the feelings of ‘otherness’ overcame me right away. Luckily I had a job and room set up. Other than that, I was completely vulnerable to the experience.
Out of all the people you’ve met during your 10 years in Paris, who has had the most impact on you as an artist/person?
My husband, of course, for changing my trajectory. I didn’t speak a lick of French upon arrival, but it’s no joke that it’s easier to learn the language with a French lover.
Although I still haven’t made it to Paris, I dream of visiting and spending an extended amount of time in the City of Light. What words of advice do you have for someone considering a move to Paris?
Learn French. Have a open mind and humble yourself to the experience.
When you were creating the illustration of a particular place for the book, did you visit in person to create the illustration or rely on photographs/memory?
My co-author and I extensively walked the streets of Paris trying to find the best angle and pragmatic way of discovering the city. I took extensive photos and created the illustrations in my studio. Watercolor is finicky and not always adaptable to the elements.
What’s an average day in your studio like?
I usually arrive between 9-10. I make coffee and catch up on a first round of emails for the day. If I’m inspired and have time, I will work on a current events illustration or develop ideas in my sketchbook. Otherwise, I’m working on various editorial projects, book #3, updating all my channels and social media accounts and writing when inspired.
Your husband is photographer of French architecture. Does his work serve as an inspiration for any of the illustrations you’ve created?
The first times we traveled together, I would look at our pictures. At first glance, it’s like we weren’t even on the same vacation. Now I know his taste very well and can spot out a shot he will take before he does. I also worked as a food stylist for many years and my approach is very micro, but his is very macro. I guess we meet somewhere in the middle.
You’ve worked for magazines such as Vogue, WSJ & T Magazine – what has been the most challenging project that you’ve worked on?
Publishing Paris in Stride was the most challenging project I’ve ever worked on. There’s the initial investment and intensity in creating the work and the painstaking effort of trying to make it a hit.
What is your favorite French pastry (or dish) that you like to order?
I always order a Paris Brest if it’s on the menu.
Paris-Brest is made of choux pastry, and praline-flavored cream, fashioned like a wheel. Created in 1910 by Lous Durand, it commemorated the Paris-Brest-Paris bicycle race he initiated in 1891. – Sarah Moroz
What is the current project you’re working on?
I’m focusing on recharging this Summer and really giving myself time to think of new ideas. It’s rare to find those moments.
Basic Paris Questions:
Where can you get the best pastries?
Du Pain et des Idees (pg 116-117 to read more)
Best café for people watching?
Au Petit Fer à Cheval
Best market for shopping for a picnic?
Marché President Wilson (see pg 32-33 for tips on ‘How to Navigate a Market’)
Best picnic spot?
Le Bois de Vincennes
Favorite neighborhood for walking where you’ll see more locals than tourists?
The 12th along with suspended walkway the Coulee verte Rene-Dumont.
Thank you so much for sharing with us, Jessie! You can pick up a copy of Jessie’s book here, or wherever books are sold. To see more of Jessie’s illustrations, follow her blog The Francofly and Instagram @jessiekanelosweiner
Note: All pictures in this post are via Jessie Kanelos Weiner and Rizzoli New York.