Full of food, wine and good cheer, we stepped out into the cool, misty Paris night air. He bid us farewell with a kiss and a hug and we watched as he descended into the deep caverns of the Metro. I turned to my companions and asked “Who was that masked man?”….behind us from the shadows a tall, dark figure emerged, his trench coat pulled high about him, the brim of his hat so low we could barely see his features but for the red hot glow of his cigarette through the swirling mist under the flickering street lamp…then in a deep, rich voice he said, “Why Monsieur, you did not know? That was none other than Le Baron de Brooklyn et de Parriee”. Stunned, we turned to catch another glimpse of Le Baron, but he was gone….from the depths of the Metro rose the screech of metal against metal as the train pulled to a stop, and as the doors rolled shut we heard his strong voice sing out “I love Paris every moment, every moment of the year….Hi Ho Metro….Away.” We turned back to the tall stranger…but he too was gone.
Suddenly out of the darkness a muscular figure breathlessly ran up to us, clad in buckskin, with braided black hair held in place by a wide head ban with a single white feather. He turned and said “Need find Le Baron Pronto! Where he?” We pointed to the Metro stairs…he started down then stopped, turned back and said “Ugh, hate Metro, heap many stairs!” He let out a loud cry, waived his feather three times and a white Uber Mercedes with Pinto markings pulled up to a stop…he leapt in, entered “Le Baron” on the GPS and through the smell of burning rubber pealed off down the narrow street. I looked at our group and said, “Was that who I think it was? No….no way…but then again, this is Paris.” And that dear family and friends is the true — well almost — story of our first meeting with Terrance Gelenter, “Your American Friend in Paris.”
So just who is he and how did he fit into our Paris adventure?
Before we left San Francisco in April of last year, a friend down the hall in our condominium complex suggested that we contact Terrance Gelenter, who’s website is titled “Your American Friend in Paris”, Paris Through Expatriate Eyes”, and who offers Travel services, hotel and apartment rentals, tours, food and wine adventures, song and many stories of Paris and his International Travels.
This sounded like what we needed, as he also held weekly gatherings at local cafes where one could meet other international travelers, hear their stories and hopefully pick up some French expertise.
Although we enjoyed our first location and historic Marais district in the 4th Arrondissement, we had such a bad experience early on with the accommodations of that apartment, Elaine suggested we contact Terrance to help find a new rental. True to his reputation, he quickly found a delightful apartment, larger, brighter and better equipped for roughly the same costs, and that was willing to take just a 3 month lease in the 17th arrondissement offering a different cultural experience.
At the end of that lease he found our current 2 bedroom apartment in the 6th arrondissement for yet another aspect of Parisian culture, restaurants, historical and traditional offerings.
Since then, when we had a dispute with the previous landlord over returning the deposit, Terrance jumped in to help us solve that issue; arranged dinner for us and visiting family at the Eiffel Tower restaurant when we were unsuccessful in our attempts; made himself available to help other visiting friends and relatives either with shopping tips, restaurants or travel suggestions to make their stay more pleasant; quickly arranged for Elaine to see a Doctor at the famous American Hospital of Paris when she had a medical issue, then insisted on showing up to help translate the findings in a way we could understand; soon thereafter also helped me at the American Hospital with a back issue, again being available to help translate, and on and on.
In summary, I guess by now you’ve figured out that I would highly recommend Terrance if you are coming to visit Paris and want an expert to guide you and make the most of your visit…and what he can’t do himself, he arranges contacts with others who can. However, be warned, his energy level is so high and he is so outgoing that he may overwhelm you at first. Almost immediately he nicknamed me “Pierre”, for my legal name is Pierce, and I in turn him “Le Baron de Brooklyn”. But that is a whole other story he covers in one of his many published books.
The more we were around him, I could see under the smiling, fun loving exterior a man who truly enjoys what he does. Pure and simple, he just loves people and Paris, is very observant of client needs and makes a sincere effort to do the best for them, which we feel is the true mark of a professional! And, even if you’re not yet planning a trip here, his web site and free news letters are a delightful read and will make you feel like you are here, experiencing all Paris has to offer, as they are filled with a wide variety of interesting places, persons, books, experiences and suggestions that will surely entertain you. His website is Paris-expat.com.
Enjoy, be well and be safe….Pierre aka Chris Brothers