Haute Chocolate with Lynn Loring

What a treat to interview the fabulous Lynn Loring! We recently had lunch, and I was amazed by her energy, ideas, and great events that she organizes as Vice President of Activities at the American Women’s Group here in Paris. As some who has had a similar role organizing weekly events, I know and appreciate how much work and thought she put into the events. Originally from Pittsburgh, she says her parents had the good sense to move to sunny Coral Gables, Florida, when she was seven. After graduating with a degree in Art History from Boston University, Lynn worked as an art teacher before changing careers. She says that after spending millions of dollars traveling white knuckled everywhere each summer, she decided to become… a flight attendant. Currently, she divides her time between a jam-packed work schedule and la belle vie in Paris.

What brought you to Paris?

I have been a boomerang when it comes to coming, and coming back to Paris. I had my first trip in 1970 and it hasn’t stopped. After I quit teaching, I became a flight attendant, and came to Paris even more. After I married my husband, we spent four summers here.

Recently, when we were told that someone wanted to rent our home in Scottsdale, AZ (that wasn’t even for rent), Paris was first on our list.

What keeps you coming back? 

There is one Paris I had as a tourist, one Paris I have as a flight attendant when I can be here for work every week and explore, and one as a resident, when you start to hate the metro and love the fact that Mean Monoprix lady starts to give you a half smile after 3 years.

My husband and I have a contest on who can charm more of the shopkeepers in the neighborhood. I won this week because the lady at Picard gave me the better greeting than the woman at the bakery who deals with my husband. But I digress. I guess I am saying that two things keep me coming back: the people and what I learn from them.

How did you begin as the AWG events director?

I was asked to have hot chocolate one day. Months later I asked the activities director if they could have a hot chocolate group.  She said sure, you do it. Oh.

I called it Haute Chocolate.

So I looked at all the reviews in the French papers on the Internet, and picked the top places. I started to really learn about hot chocolate.  After 2 great places, I decided to try a  top hotel, combining great hot chocolate with beautiful surroundings. It was a real hit. Twenty-four Euros for a cup of hot chocolate, and I had to say no to the latecomers.  Then I added a quiz “Are you a real Parisian” to the mix, with prizes to the top winners, a bouquet of baguettes, a one euro Paris scarf.

The biggest losers have received fake dollars to go back to the States, or a map of Paris, or a Pariscope to study up. What is the worst  Metro correspondence? What is the worst day to shop at Monoprix?  How many Statues of Liberty are there in Paris? You know your arrondissement, but which district do you live in? What is the most popular dog in Paris? The winner said MY answer and I asked how she knew? She said she lived near the Bois de Bologone and has not seen hundreds of the dogs through the years, but THOUSANDS! I have lots of questions after lots of hot chocolates! I asked where do you go to get shoelaces and someone blurted out, AMERICA! Cracked me up.

But I digress…

I asked why, since we are in the gastronomic capital of the world, does the club not have a dining group. You guessed it, she told me to do it.

Then the activities director stepped down for the next year, and I found myself doing it and with a partner. We work well, as I think outside the box, and she’s good at the technical things.

You organize such great events! What are some of the challenges and rewards?

The challenges started off as money, so since I was so green and didn’t know how to fight, so I became inventive. I found guides for 10 euros who are great.  Found “Mr. Mushroom” who took us to the forest to hunt for a small cost, had a lunch for 4 months worth of birthday girls, and the restaurant came out with a flaming cake and waiters singing happy birthday. I added hotel tours when we had an food event at a hotel; Christmas decoration tour, where between the decorations I talked about the architectural history of  Plâce Vendome (I was an art history major); minute made jiffy jewelry (I used to be an art teacher); theater (‘Singing in the Rain’ and ‘An American in Paris’); Cinema chic unique–going to the unique movie theaters in Paris-Le Royal Monceau for ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, the Rex for ‘West Side Stor’y; Ladies Who Drink in the View-hotel Raphael’s Terrace, Pershing Hall among many others; classes at Laduree, just to name a few. That’s just me, I’m not including all the tours and classes my partner Kathryn comes up with.

The rewards are learning more about Paris–never would have found out about some of these venues if I didn’t want to wow the members. The friendships I have made in the club. When I first went to the meetings, it was torture, I didn’t know anyone. Now I know all the active members!

The challenges are getting time away from the IPad. My husband will name it in any divorce proceeding if it comes to that! People who cancel drive me crazy, and since I have only been an art teacher (the Principal left me alone, he didn’t know what I was doing) and a flight attendant (no boss above me), I have been isolated from politics and that has been an eye-opening experience.

More and more people spend time on social media. Can you talk a little bit about the importance of groups like AWG?

I had never really joined a group before, other than volunteering in a museum. This experience is different, and I feel is outside the confines of social media’s impact. We are all diverse women with very little in common in the beginning (this is not an ex teachers group or Catholics getting together). We are all ex pats yearning for friendship and contact with others that understand our background in a city where we are the foreigners. Friendships are made fast, we aren’t too busy or as another excuse, have enough friends like we do in the states. We are making room for new friends because we are outside the confines of our feel good old home in Wherever, USA.  It works and works well. Facebook and Twitter just can’t compete with what the evolution of the species came up with in our psyche that we can’t live without, FACE-TO-FACE FRIENDSHIP.

What books are on your nightstand?

Some of the books on my shelf are ‘Cardinal Richelieu’ by Anthony Levi, ‘Out and About in Paris’ 3 editions, ‘The Captive Queen’ by Alison Weir, and ‘Glittering Images’ by Camille Paglia!

What is the best advice you have ever received?

You can’t talk reasonably to someone when they are emotional.

What’s next? 

For me: London in February, my other favorite city, where my husband will meet me on some of my layovers.  I know London better than Paris!

For AWG:  Cupcake and wine pairing class is coming up, tour of the Georges V with a talk by me on the history of Champs Élysées ending at Guerlain –maybe I should call it the ‘Sacred and the Profane’ tour!

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