Several years ago, a young American arrived in Paris with a dream to live ‘la vie Parisienne’. She knew no one, not one person; she did not speak French; she had no idea how she was going to earn a living. What she did know was that she had a fascination for the city of light and wanted to be nowhere else.
It was a huge leap of faith but does Lisa Buros-Hutchins from Wisconsin ever regret the move? “Absolutely not!” she says. “I remember it as if it was yesterday, sitting on the steps of the Sacré Coeur looking out over the city and just imagining, or rather daring to dream of what it held for me. I came to Paris as a writer, the epitome of the total cliché people would think… an American wanting to live the dream in Paris”.
Lisa is one of those people who make the best of everything, pragmatic, determined, smart and sassy. She learned the language. She made lots of friends and developed a very impressive network of connections. She worked her way up the ranks to run one of the biggest tourist companies in Europe that specialises in Paris. After years of living in Paris, visiting museums, galleries, restaurants, cafés, shops, parks, monuments – Lisa was herself a true specialist in Paris.
Several years down the line, Lisa met an Englishman, fell in love, got married and eventually set up her own company concentrating on giving visitors the ultimate Paris experience using all of her years of savoir-faire, her connections, and her expertise.
When asked how she became such an expert, Lisa has just two words “hard work”. She walked the streets, criss-crossed Paris by bicycle, visited every museum, every monument – she immersed herself in the culture of Paris and knows the city as well as any Parisian tourist guide. Lisa also has the advantage of knowing the city like a foreigner – a rare combination.
This know-how is what has enabled Lisa to turn her company Your Paris Experience into an acclaimed service for visitors to Paris. She says “I want people to be able to really feel Paris, to take the time to breathe it in and see it as I do – you can’t do that on your first visit or even your 10th visit without someone who knows how the city ebbs and flows. It’s so easy to miss out on something that was literally behind you if you had only known to turn around! Unfortunately, it’s easy to get the trip wrong and end up going home, feeling like you’ve missed something, not quite content. I take it so seriously when someone hires me to do their trip. Basically they are renting some serious space in my head until their trip is done because I never stop working on these trips. I’m either putting them together, organising everything and writing it up in a tailored document – or I’m shadowing them in Paris, confirming every reservation and handling unforeseen circumstances that come up”.
Often visitors will have a wish list – the Eiffel Tower, bien sur, The Louvre, a boat trip on the Seine. Then when they start thinking about it, talking about it, researching it on the internet – the list grows bigger and bigger and it gets a bit confusing as to how to put it all together. Paris is a big city, it isn’t possible to fit it all in, is it?
Well, if you talk to Lisa, she’ll do her best to find out exactly what you want to see, the key places, the experiences visitors desire and then she’ll put together a personally tailored itinerary. From arrival to departure; from picking you up at the airport to organizing tours and experiences through her elite network of contacts, honeymoon or wedding packages, restaurant reservations to concierge service – as little or as much of a helping hand as you want. Avoid the queues, see everything that’s on your ultimate wish list and relax rather than rush. Want to do a behind the scenes visit like a VIP at the Palais Garnier or at the Château de Versailles? Need a personal shopper in one of the big department stores? Dreamed of taking a themed tour but don’t know where to start? Lisa’s connections mean that she can get people in to those special places that you might not otherwise have access to – or even know about. Cookery classes, private atelier tours, wine tasting, theatre, chocolate and patisserie tours – Lisa has friends and connections throughout a broad range of the Paris tourist sector.
Lisa says “I start off on the phone with every single client I work with and I can tell you there is nothing more gratifying than to hear the excitement in their voice when they realise the trip they dreamed of is actually starting to come together and they see how it is all going to work”. She laughs as she says, “I am acutely aware that I am one very lucky person. I get to work with my clients and know that they come to Paris full of excitement for the trip we’ve worked on together and when they leave they are full of happiness. They have found the real Paris that I know and love and they will take home with them beautiful memories of this magnificent city. If my clients love Paris half as much as I do when they leave then I have done my job well.”
Lisa has an instinctive understanding of people and how to help them work out exactly what is the perfect planning for their holiday. There is nothing she likes better than helping her clients to find the best way to experience Paris that is also their own way, and says “There are times when I pinch myself at what I get to do for a living. There are moments I still feel like this little girl from Wisconsin who only ever dreamed of moving to New York City. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that one day I would be working with the best people in Paris, designing experiences and meeting absolutely the most amazing people who hire me to help them with their trips”.