When her husband was temporarily relocated in 1988, Karen Fawcett ’64 moved, begrudgingly, to Paris. She quickly found that she was able to travel around the European Union and parts of Asia with relative ease. Over the next twenty plus years Ms. Fawcett has written for the international edition of USA Today and kept up BonjourParis.com, a website dedicated to helping American tourists discover the hidden secrets of the City of Light.
Why do you love France, especially Paris, so much?
I’m very lucky to have lived in Washington and Boston, both really lovely cities, but it’s the excitement of Paris that keeps me intrigued. It’s the quality of life, being able to walk everywhere. No matter what day of the week I walk out of my apartment I see something new.
Do you visit other parts of France as well, or just stay in Paris mostly?
We had a house in Provence for nearly 15 years and that was a wonderful experience, but I am not a country girl. I am happiest in Paris.
How did you come up with the idea for BonjourParis.com?
In fact, I inherited the website from a colleague who was returning to Washington. Back then, when I took over, I found the Internet scary. Now, I’m proud to say that BonjourParis.com was one of the first travel websites recognized by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs press office.
Have you ever felt scared while traveling in a foreign country?
No, but I’ve been challenged. Once, in Istanbul, a man tried to pull a necklace right off my neck. The thing to remember is not to look scared. If you think of it as an adventure, keep your cool, and not put yourself in dangerous situations, you’ll be fine.
Returning to the Pioneer Valley, who was your favorite teacher at Northampton School for Girls?
Mrs. Cantorella, my English teacher, hands down. She was everyone’s favorite teacher because she made English come alive. In her classroom, literature became 3D.
Tips for Travelling:
– Never walk around with your passport. Photocopy the important pages to carry on your person and leave the real document in your hotel.
– Take enough cash to get you through a day and have your ATM card on you so that you can get more cash easily.
– Travel carefully and smartly, and remember just because you’re having a lovely time that doesn’t mean there aren’t pickpockets.