Paris When It Giggles by Jill Coody Smits, a book review and Q&A
Travel inspires parents to do many things. We make photo albums, wall murals, decorate our trees with ornaments we pick up on the road, sketch illustrations, or in the case of Jill Coody Smits, you write a guidebook for parents that will make their adventures a little more manageable.
I got a chance to chat with Jill about her Paris guidebook to find out what inspired her to take the plunge and create a book that can inspire other families to pack their bags and head off to experience the city themselves in an exciting, yet in a way that is realistic for family. After all, not every parent or kid has the stamina to see the entire city in one trip. Why not enjoy it?!
Q&A with author Jill Coody Smits
When was the first time you went to Paris? What made you fall in love with the city?
My first experience in Paris was during a post-college “Clark W. Griswold” tour through Europe with friends. I think we spent 36 hours in Paris that in no way resembled a New York Times 36 Hours In… column. Still, with beauty at every swivel of the head, I saw enough to know it was one of the world’s most amazing cities, and that I would be very lucky if I ever got to go back. Since then, I’ve visited four times—three with adults and once with my husband and (then) five-year-old daughter. Though the awesomeness of Paris is much more than skin deep, I’m still in love with how ridiculously—sort of obscenely—gorgeous it all is.
What is one of your favorite spots to visit in Paris with your daughter?
Traveling with children is so different from traveling as a couple or with friends, and my husband and I really just enjoyed being in the city with her. There’s no pressure to rush from site to site, because you’ll all pay for it if you try. For example, we didn’t go into Notre Dame, but we had a blast hanging out on the adjacent playground, soaking up the atmosphere and being part of the landscape. It’s a fairly surreal experience, really, nibbling a croissant and spinning your child on a merry-go-round in the shadow of all that history. At the time, our daughter would have said Luxembourg Gardens (or our local Berthillon ice cream stand) was her favorite spot, but, now that she’s a bit older and has been exposed to Paris and Parisian things through school, culture, books etc., she has a deeper appreciation for some of her experiences.
What is one thing you must eat whenever you are in Paris?
Between perfect baguettes, gazillions of cheeses, pain au chocolat, daily specials in charming cafes, onion soup, roasted chicken and macarons, I am very easy to please in Paris!
What made you decide to create a Paris guide?
We had such an amazing time in Paris with our daughter, and came back feeling so grateful. I quickly posted a narrated photo album on Facebook that got an overwhelming response and sparked the idea to create something for parents who thought of Paris as an adults-only city. When my good friend, illustrator Virginia Shurgar Hassell, said she would make it beautiful, I knew we should do it.
Who should buy this guidebook?
I like to say Paris When It Giggles is part Fodor’s guide, part Madeline and part conversation with a travel-savvy friend. It isn’t intended to replace a nuts-and-bolts guide, but it will talk you into believing you’d have an amazing time in Paris with your kids, and provide some useful tips along the way. It is also a funny, pretty and sentimental little keepsake, and anyone who loves Paris or travels with kids will relate to and enjoy it.
Why did you decide to go with the photo illustrations instead of a more traditional illustration?
Virginia does really lovely photo illustrations, and we felt the dose of reality helped tell the story in a way that was beautiful but honest. Traveling with children isn’t perfect like a postcard, but it is grand and worthwhile just the same.
Will you be creating any other guidebooks for other cities?
Yes! The dream is to have a series of books, and we are working on Austin, Dallas, Amsterdam and Rome.
Publisher’s Synopsis: Paris When It Giggles is a city guide, picture book and travelogue all rolled into one pretty little package. Filled with true stories, useful tips, dreamy illustrations and inspiring ideas, this honest and sentimental handbook was designed to convince reluctant parents that the magic of Paris is best experienced with their littlest travel companions in tow.
Title: Paris When It Giggles: a realistic travel guide for adventurous parents
Author: Jill Coody Smits
Publisher: Blue Seed Publications; 1st edition
Publication Date: September 30, 2014, $10.34 paperback
For ages: toddlers through parents and grandparents