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Very pleased that my essay about the unexpected pleasure of traveling through France alone has won a Lowell Thomas Award for personal comment. I’m in great company: Here is a list of the winners, and here, again, is my story. And this is what the judges said:

Marcia DeSanctis’ strong, first-person narrative captures what one is supposed to feel for France: recognition of its unquestioned cultural and culinary preeminence. Yet, because she inverts the expectations of the accompanied traveler, she introduces us to a flawed, humane and solitary France. The accompanied traveler carries the awareness of another; the solo traveler converses only with memories. DeSanctis captures the joy of not sharing canelés (traditional pastries of Bordeaux) and the freedom to live extemporaneously. “I was travelling alone,” she writes with a spark of recognition “but not a single thing was missing.”


This is some of the most fun I’ve ever had: an essay written and inspired by objects hidden in my own library. Wisely, I asked my friend and neighbor Kate Uhry to take the photos. A story on travel, memory and books and how they all come together in a bookmark, for Tin House.

Hemingway, Dubai, 1990

Hemingway, Dubai, 1990

How about 99 Places in France? Or, skip Chapter 25. Here’s the background.

In 100 Places in France, I wanted to do some deep travel writing, and my editors at Travelers’ Tales were kind enough to let me. So, these 100 distinct stories are mainly about places in France with personal meaning for me and where I could, I integrated lots of memories into the narratives. But I also wanted to weave in plenty of travel advice and to include a couple of amazing new places, just barely on the radar. Still 100 Places in France isn’t a traditional guidebook, unless a spiritual guide counts.

One of the entries, Chapter 25, is about a place in Paris that was opening up in 2014 called La Jeune Rue. An amazing concept of 36 farm-to-table, high-design stores and restaurants that would be taking over a small section of the Marais. It was the talk of Paris last year and the international press covered it extensively, and though the project and its secretive founder Cedric Naudon were controversial, it was discussed in food circles as somewhat revolutionary. Restaurants at la Jeune Rue were just starting to open when 100 Places went to press, and I was assured the other openings opening were on course for winter and spring. Well, either for reasons political or financial (or both) La Jeune Rue has folded. This is from a friend who was involved: “JR has collapsed in April after a painful period of six months when Cedric Neudon was desperatly looking for millions of euros to continue the projects.” So that – sadly – is that. It was a waste of a chapter, and I will write another one to update and replace it. But if anyone has taken my book and looked around Paris unsuccessfully for La Jeune Rue, I’m as disappointed as you are and also, very sorry!


Cynthia Haven has one of the smartest, wittiest and most probing blogs on books – anywhere. So I’m rather incredibly blown away that she read and reviewed my book, and found some incredible illustrations to accompany her write up.