A Family in Paris Cover

Read an extract from A Family in Paris and take a peek inside on the Penguin Australia/Lantern Books website. See where my books are available for purchase online here.


2012 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards – Winner Best Food Literature (Australia)

2012 IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) Cookbook Awards – Short-listed Culinary Travel

How the book came about

My six years in Paris were spent with pen in hand, scribbling away in notebooks, on serviettes, café coasters and any scrap of paper I could find. I was in awe of the place. Beauty beckoned around every corner. Art and style seeped from every pore. Unable to restrain myself, I would stop to describe the ambience of a garden or an intricate doorway. I was constantly documenting a thought, a flavour or a dish. A box from Ladurée contained a growing pile of restaurant cards and menus, along with entry tickets to museums and galleries.

However, it was not just when lapin à la moutarde suddenly appeared on blackboard menus or the first fat bunches of white asparagus hit the markets that I would turn to my pen.


As I sipped my café crèmes on sunny terraces I also vented my frustration on paper when the pages were ripped from my daughters’ schoolbooks. I recorded the sheer difficulty of everyday Parisian life and detailed the time and effort it took to carry out even the most menial task. Writing became my outlet and voice as I tried to decode the unspoken rules and rituals, to comprehend the contradictions and make sense of it all. Being unable to understand and be understood created constant despair. Attempting to purchase a torturously long list of school supplies that I could neither recognise nor pronounce, for example, was like navigating the Louvre sans map.

And so we soon discovered that the reality of everyday Parisian life did not match the glossy picture-postcard version we had naively conjured in our heads, especially with children in tow. Paris was Doctor Jekyll one moment and Mr. Hyde the next. The world we knew had been thrown out of the French window and in blew the antipode of our Australian way of life.

Our arrival in Paris set off a rollercoaster ride of discovery and a steep learning curve for us all. Living in another culture changes one’s perception of the world, of others, of oneself. It enlarges and enriches; shapes and challenges us. Life becomes one of exploration where you are constantly questioning and growing, looking backward and forward, and comparing. Slowly we began to make sense of our new world, to see it from a fresh perspective and to understand the Parisians and their culture. Slowly we became enamored.


Glancing back, I believe what truly captivated me is the fact that so many elements of French life are elevated to an art form. Great thought goes into the simple line of a scarf, the display in a perfumery window or the flowers at the market, stacked in pretty mosaic hedges. Combined with this quest for perfection was a tangible immediacy that never failed to thrill and inspire me. I relished pushing open our apartment building door and instantly connecting with the rhythm of the city. Days became a series of snapshots of uplifting moments, a continual blur of beauty that overshadowed the frustration.


It was the continual  ‘moments of joy’, along with the small, repeated experiences, the daily rituals, that I felt especially compelled to capture. The metro and the smell of la boulangerie early morning became part of our lives and memories, just like the whirl of the antique carousel.


A number of years have passed since our Paris days but France remains deep in our hearts. The mountain of scribble, stack of twenty dog-eared notebooks and boxes of ephemera were packed away but the desire to convey the experiences of a newly transplanted family in Paris kept snapping at me like a haughty poodle. Finally, I rolled up my sleeves, covered the floor with butcher’s paper and got to work. I decided it was time to do something with this pile of recollections and information, to decipher my notes and put them in some semblance of chronological order. Further drafts and exhaustive research followed, along with the re-visiting of people and places. Addresses were crossed off, others added, while the girls endured endless questions and conversations about Paris.


Finally, I have a book in my hands. A mix of memoir and travel guide A Family in Paris offers the reader an authentic taste of the city – with a bit of grit in the oyster. Through a collection of anecdotes, informative travel articles and observations, it conveys the joys and the difficulties of la vie parisienne, dealing with the real issues in a light-hearted way. A Family in Paris is a scrapbook woven with cultural tips, snippets of history and honest advice. It is also a food and etiquette guide, suitable for those planning an international move or simply a holiday to this most famous of cities. It’s filled with things I wish I knew on that sunny spring day when our family arrived in Paris.

Signing A Family in Paris

Signing A Family in Paris


A Selection of Reviews

Australian Women Online

Beatties Book Blog

T-Magazine/New York Times

The Weekly Review


Boroondara Bookends


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  • Christie
    April 23, 2013

    Hi Jane,
    I am an American living in Melbourne with my Canadian husband and four children. We have been here nearly three years, and I have spent most of my time supporting the family. Lately I have considered turning my blog about our experiences adapting to living in Oz into a book, and when I visited our local bookstore, the staff recommended “A Family in Paris.” I took it home and read it cover to cover, enjoying it immensely. Thanks for allowing the reader a glimpse into those six years of your life, and for offering up a vision of how to make the most of an overseas living experience.

    • janepaech
      April 24, 2013

      Hi Christie
      I’m glad you enjoyed A Family in Paris. I didn’t realise the depth and richness of material I had collected until well after I had left Paris, so my advice to you is to ‘keep writing’. Document everything, all your thoughts and all the details, because you forget what you think you never will, and it will all be used some day, whether in a book or just as a lovely memoir for your family.

  • Suzanne
    August 7, 2013

    Hi Jane, my daughters gave me A Family in Paris for Christmas two years ago. After my first ever visit to Paris at the ripe young age of 59 I fell in love with the city. I visited again at 65 in summer this time and whilst I preferred autumn there, I just want to keep going back. Your book brought back memories of places visited, gave me reasons to go back and visit other spots and if not then to just keep the memories special and HOPE to go back. Visiting with eyes wide is very different to setting up house there, of that you set out well in your book.

    Thank you for putting your memories of your life on paper so we could enjoy the day to day life in a beautiful city. I hope your life is happy now and full of exciting travel.

    • janepaech
      August 7, 2013

      Once you have fallen for Paris, no matter what your age, I believe there is no going back! It is a place of beauty, charm, culture and dreams, and as Audrey Hepburn said… ‘Paris is always a good idea.’ I hope you have the opportunity to make more memories in this special city.

      • Suzanne
        September 10, 2013

        I am trying my best. Fingers crossed for another visit next year towards the end of spring for a few days in between tours. Of my previous visits I preferred Paris in autumn, but as long as I get there.

  • Laney
    September 6, 2013

    Hi Jane,

    Just finished your book as I was feeling home sick for France (weird as I am Irish living in NZ).
    Loved your descriptions of Paris and your depiction of daily Parisian life made me giggle – the phrase “That happened to me!” occurred several times!

    I spent three months as an au-pair in the 6th and lived in the 13th whilst working as a lectrice at Uni Paris X. However, reading your book made me realise that there is so much of Paris I haven’t seen! Looking forward to going back to there and I plan on using your addresses. However, I think if I decide to live in France (hesitating between there and Luxembourg at the moment), I will live in the South – I like the relaxed life!

    I’m now looking forward to reading your blog as I enjoyed your book so much!


  • janepaech
    September 7, 2013

    Hi Laney

    Thanks for your kind words; stay tuned for my next book on Paris!
    Hmmm…which to choose, Paris, the South of France or Luxembourg. Paris will always win my heart but the little landlocked country of Luxembourg is beautiful too, and so close to many other countries and cultures. Bonne chance!

  • Mairie
    October 28, 2013

    Hi Jane,
    I first read your book a few years ago, and it developed my love of Paris from mild to passionate! I’m only 16 but your writing had a profound impression on me, and I adored your descriptive and eloquent style of writing and cultural tips and anecdotes. (One of my favourite articles was ‘Camembert ou Brie, ma Cherie?’ – it made me wish I was brought up in France, despite the strict schooling!
    I’m really glad you are writing another book about Paris, and that you are going back there – I was devastated when you had to leave Paris at the end of the book! I can’t wait until I actually live in Paris, though by now I feel I know more about the city than most of the tourists who have been there. The Ile Saint Louis and 9th arrondissement particularly interest me.
    Where are you thinking of staying on your next trip?

    Best wishes, Mairie (from Melbourne)

    • janepaech
      October 28, 2013

      Dear Mairie,
      Yes, a sit down lunch with a cheese course certainly can’t compare with a meat pie in a bag!
      So glad you enjoyed the book. It sounds like you are already a true Parisophile, even at your tender age.
      Next trip I am lucky enough to be staying at a friends’ apartment in Le Marais. Many people have asked me where they should stay in Paris so perhaps I need to write a blog about that.

      I hope you get to visit Paris soon.

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