A tale of two hometown cities,Paris, France and Savannah, GA.

To borrow from Gertrude Stein, Savannah is my USA birthplace yet Paris is now my hometown. The similarities are striking. My grandmother lived her life in Savannah, hopping an open-air trolley when the tourist spirit moved her. Visitors to Paris call out “bonjour” to me from the open-top double decker buses, thrilled to be here as Savannah tourists love that beautiful city.

My Mother and I lived in the historic Sorrel Weed house in Savannah when I was a young child. I walked alone to Independent Presbyterian Day School, stopping at a corner cafe for a cup of tea and a cake donut. Now I live in an old Boulevard Saint Germain apartment building, converted from horse stalls into dwellings between the two World Wars. Around the corner stands the petite French coffee shop where I go for coffee and a little cake.

Turning left on the downtown Savannah corner by the Chatam Club and entering historic Savannah, friends oohed and awed over the striking sites that to this day never fail to move me. Arriving in Paris from Charles De Gaulle airport, taxi drivers delight in taking the long route home, not for the extra fare, but to showcast the Eiffel Tower and Louvre at daybreak.

Food used to take center stage in Savannah before chain restaurants invaded the city, the white-tablecloth Anton’s of my youth, Hester’s for a great steak, Gottlieb’s Bakery for a date-nut pastry. I still go straight to Johnny Harris’ for a pit barbeque sandwich when home, to Carey Hilliard’s for Brunswick Stew, River Street for a praline,  and to Mrs. Wilkes for a boarding house-style southern meal.

In Paris I head straight to the 13th arrondissement for an Asian meal at the renowned Lao Lane Zang, to favorite creperies near the Eiffel Tower and Montparnasse, to Kaiser for a hot Almond Croissant.

Tourists still come here in record numbers as they do in Savannah. Recently a woman from Russia asked for directions to the Musée d’Orsay, thrilled to be in Paris. I remember being asked directions to the Juliette Gordon Lowe birthplace in Savannah, Girl Scouts young and older, overwhelmed to be on a Daisy’s house sojourn.

A college friend told me she got goosebumps in Savannah when she sat where a famous person had held court.

Here’s to never-ending goosebumps in both of my hometowns.



Leave a Reply