Bonjour Paris, A Brief History

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Bonjour Paris, A Brief History
Former owner Karen Fawcett reflects on the history of Bonjour Paris “L’Internet, c’est quoi ça?” is what the French said when Bonjour Paris (BP) first launched. It was a hard sell since the French couldn’t conceive of it– even though they were wedded to the Minitel.  In the beginning, BP was so much more than a website. It was a community of Francophones and Francophiles who wanted to know one another, no matter where they lived.  Initially, our readers were Americans because they were the first to buy home computers. Soon we had members from the U.K., Australia and all over the world as America on Line (AOL) expanded. Yes, we had content about Paris, hotels, restaurants, and tourist destinations but we also had chats. “Avec Dani” headed the French language chats with many other “Avecs.”  We held chats with authors including Diane Johnson (Le Divorce, Le Marriage), and actress Leslie Caron. We even had a wine tasting in the cellar of La Dernière Goutte, which was a challenge because AOL was on a dial-up modem and the wine shop’s owner Juan Sanchez had to stretch a phone line from the main floor. French chats were held practically every day but I was in charge of three chats per week; these were held at civilized hours for people in the U.S. but with the six to nine-hour time difference, meant that I  frequently went to bed at 4 or 5 a.m. To this day, I am amazed how many friendships were formed, even a few romances and marriages. And yes, I am still in contact with a few BP members. (A frequent visitor to the chat room was now bestselling author Cara Black, who would ask questions about Paris.) I nearly forgot about the message boards where people seeking information about France would ask away. The message boards became my domain and I became a master of  France-related information before the days of Google. There were frequent BP get togethers  in New York, Washington D.C., Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. They were tremendous fun and also an excuse to drink too much French wine. When I think about Bonjour Paris, I realize it was my home for many years. I am glad Mary Nicklin has possession of the keys. Karen Fawcett
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Lead photo credit : Paris. Photo credit: Patrick Nouhailler/ Flickr

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Comments

  • John Myers
    2020-09-01 08:49:57
    John Myers
    Hi Karen, I miss Bonjour Paris. For a short time I led a chatroom discussion under the name of Tayloravec. I met Avecdani several years ago hen she visited Florida. John

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  • Bonnie Nelson Schwartz
    2020-07-20 10:25:19
    Bonnie Nelson Schwartz
    Loved this article. It brings back memories. Encore les histoires de Bonjour Paris revisté Madame Fawcett!

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  • meredith medanich
    2020-07-17 06:16:56
    meredith medanich
    Dear Karen, Always enjoy Bonjour Paris and still do, loved meeting you some years back. Rue du Bac Apt.is our favorite place! Trying days for all of us now with this Pandemic and hope all is well with you and your family. Cheers, Meredith

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  • Eli Darron
    2020-07-16 01:15:03
    Eli Darron
    Love BP and print many articles to use in my next visit to Paris. And have read all of Cara Black's books!

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  • Priscilla Cockerell
    2020-07-12 06:49:43
    Priscilla Cockerell
    Dearest Karen, love your memories! When I think of my three years in Paris, you are front and center. How well I remember our days at WICE when faxing was au courant and magical. You have left a great legacy through Bonjour Paris.

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  • Barbara Felicetti
    2020-07-11 02:07:35
    Barbara Felicetti
    Ah Karen, so wonderful to share these memories. You became such an important part of Paris back when we were introducing our son, John Luke, to the city we loved beyond others. He has continued his love affair with Paris well into adulthood, (as have we in our dotage). It would be lovely to see you there someday.

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  • Margaret Kemp
    2020-07-10 11:32:50
    Margaret Kemp
    Cheers Karen! Hope you're well. What a crazy world we're living in now eh! Stay safe.

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  • Sofia
    2020-07-10 10:34:37
    Sofia
    How lovely, we need to revive the chats! And have new friendships and romances formed :)

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  • Seth Guggenheim
    2020-07-10 08:26:38
    Seth Guggenheim
    Karen, You should be very proud of BP! Congrats! I also love the reference to a "dial-up modem"! Seems so primitive now! Best, Seth

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  • Karen Fawcett
    2020-07-10 07:07:27
    Karen Fawcett
    Thanks to everyone for their loving comments. I hope each and everyone of you is safe during these trying times. My greatest wish is that we could have a reunion in PARIS. In the meantime, please be well.

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  • Karen Fawcett
    2020-07-10 07:03:49
    Karen Fawcett
    Yes - it has been a very long time. Thank you for your support and Bill for his articles. Hope you're both well.

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  • Karen V FAWCETT
    2020-07-10 07:01:42
    Karen V FAWCETT
    I think of you so often and hope you and Caroline are really well. Yes, it's crazy these days... xoxox

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  • Lloyd
    2020-07-10 06:18:11
    Lloyd
    Karen So nice to read your words again and reminisce about Bonjour Paris. It was an invaluable resource to us in planning our first trips to Paris. Thank you again. Lloyd

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  • Judith Brenner
    2020-07-10 06:10:54
    Judith Brenner
    Bonjour Karen, We all miss your knowledge of France that you shared with us through the years. you were my go to travel mentor before each yearly trip I took to Paris! I learned so much that I use to this very day. I can't wait til this Covid-19 is cured so my trips to Paris can resume. Stay safe and well. Merci beaucoup, Judith

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  • Lois Shepard
    2020-07-10 04:53:25
    Lois Shepard
    Hi Karen, Too many decades since we have been together. Always thought that Bonjour Paris was a Great idea - right from the beginning. Enjoyed the diversity of the articles and , of course, the over 100 Wine Articles that Bill wrote for you, at this site. We always enjoyed the feed-back on those, as they made French wine so much more accesable to the rest of the world...

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  • Dale Phillips
    2020-07-10 04:29:45
    Dale Phillips
    We old time readers of BP do miss you terribly. You made such a connection to all lovers of Paris and France. As a lover of travel, how eager I was to receive each new edition. Your stories were a joy! Glad you are doing well. I am gratified BP still exists in the changing world of print media. Hoping for many years to follow.

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  • Will Severson
    2020-07-10 04:02:31
    Will Severson
    Thank You for all the years of, well everything!! I have enjoyed BP since the day, I am sure, I accidentally found it while trying to plan a trip to France! I have shared the site with friends and family. Bon Jour Paris will continue to be an important travel/knowledge partner! Merci, Will Severson

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  • kathleen k townsend
    2020-07-10 02:41:46
    kathleen k townsend
    Congratulations Dear Karen What a joyful baby you produced!! Such happy Cheer!!!

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  • JOHN MALLICK
    2020-07-10 01:12:04
    JOHN MALLICK
    Just found this website again. I will submit a longer "comment' when I have read a few issues...

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