Hello! I’m Heidi – Paris tour guide and creator of the Women of Paris Walks. I made the move over to Paris from London in search of a new adventure in the French capital where I began guiding. Through guiding my love for Paris blossomed; I developed a fascination for all things French and a genuine joy for what I was doing.
I was inspired to create the Essential Women of Paris walk when I realised that this is a grossly neglected topic in Paris tourism. Typical tours of the city are dominated by great men (Napoleon, Louis XIV, Victor Hugo etc) and often don’t include much reference to great women. Or, if they do mention women, it is often in a negative light.
After realising this and feeling disheartened I decided to make a change and create something relevant for our time – an evolving world in which patriarchal history is being challenged. As soon as I began researching, I was amazed by the rich diversity of names I was coming across, from Josephine Baker to Marie Curie. I hope that this tour will reveal a new side to Paris, already such a beloved city, and I hope that it will enrich Paris tourism by creating an awareness of some of the incredible women who have impacted the city.
Let’s consider the facts: France has never had a female monarch or president. Women didn’t get the vote here until much later than many of France’s European counterparts. This is the capital city of a country that has been ruled by men and its history largely dictated by a male voice. The women we do hear about are very often wives, mistresses or muses to great kings, writers or artists. Throughout history, women have very often been sexualised, objectified, but not all that frequently recognised for their own achievements.
In the past, Paris has been likened to a female muse, inspiring the many great male artists and writers who made their names here. But what about the women who lived here? What was Paris for them? Isn’t it time we heard their voices too?