What is Girls’ Guide to Paris? I’m just a regular ‘ole gal and GG2P is a dream of mine. How could I get more travel and more France (my country of preference) into my life? So I designed a business around my passion…hey why the heck not? I come alive when I travel, when I’m exploring and when I’m seeing, tasting and feeling something new. I love to help other women experience this sensation as I truly feel it helps us see a larger world of possibilities within ourselves. Girls’ Guide to Paris is an invitation to travel with me to explore another part of the world while we explore another part of ourselves.
Why France? This marvelous awe inspiring country got under my skin when I first arrived as a newbie traveler at the tender age of 17. I’ve been trying to live there full time ever since. 19 years ago we bought our first home in France. Since that time I’ve managed to divide my time between NYC, Bordeaux where we have a home and where we will retire and Paris where we have a flat. Incredibly my husband hasn’t divorced me even though I spend a lot of time away from “home”- bless him.
Tours. The first tour I took ladies on was a girlfriend experience I invited my own friends to back in 2001. That memory led to a friend suggesting I call my new passion project Girls’ Guide to Paris. Much later I designed my first real tour of Paris in collaboration with famed life coach Debbie Phillips, author of Women on Fire. I began doing tours full time about 7 years ago and I can’t get enough of it.
What keeps me going is my selfishness. Say what? Yeah, its all about what I get out of it and that is the connection I feel with the ladies that I have the pleasure of getting to know over the course of a mind-bending week in France. That connection is what gives me energy and drives my passion. We women come from around the world and meet as strangers in France. We are different ages, skin tones and backgrounds yet we always depart as friends. This is the magic sauce of Girls’ Guide tours… each person feels it and it’s the true power we women have when we come together. I’m now getting a lot of repeat travelers which makes me feel terribly grateful. Read reviews here.
Who is Doni Belau? An inveterate traveler, I’ve been to nearly 70 countries. I’m obsessed with food….gourmet Michelin star level meals to pigs in a blanket.
I relish finding that unique place with the chef who really cares what he or she is putting down on the plate…plus I’ll try anything once. Weirdest foods sampled to date: frogs legs (very good~), escargot & foie gras (duh!), eland (in Africa), zebra (same), fermented whale (in Iceland – GROSS) and fried grasshoppers (tasty!). I hail from Nebraska and I’ve lived most of my life in New York (35 yrs). I’ve been a brunette and a blond and blond is better! I try to stay fashion conscious but sometimes I just have to throw on the mom jeans. I started a not-for-profit in South Africa helping kids with HIV and I believe in the motto “Never act your age!”. Oh and I’m obsessed with gardens and flowers.
Output: I wrote the book Paris Cocktails, published by Cider Mill Press in 2015. I’ve written countless travel articles and blog posts for Matador Network, Hip Paris Blog, Huffington Post and more. I’ve been interviewed by the New York Times, Forbes and many others including being a guest on the radio and on podcasts from Martha Stewart to Rudy Maxa. I’ve had my own radio show on Expat Radio where I interviewed many guests such as Marc Levy (best selling French author) or normal folks like you and me to learn about their experience of living as an expat in France.
Family: Like you, I’ve tried to have it all. I’ve had a few careers over my pretty long life, the most important of which is being mom to my son Max and daughter Franny. We got them through college and now they are successfully off the dole as my hubby likes to put it. I had a long career in television production back in the day, stayed at home with my kids for a few years (and am grateful for that) and then did some time trying to save the world in the Not-for-Profit arena as well as in Politics. After serving on President Obama’s national finance committee I decided to start something new and follow my heart. My passion for travel and France is why Girls’ Guide to Paris was born back in 2009.
I launched Girls’ Guide to Paris in September of 2009, a travel website and guide about everything Paris related. GG2P now has over 1 million readers per year and 75,000 social media followers (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest). In 2019 & 2020 I am leading 10 trips a year to France and beyond. They are always small, intimate and profoundly enjoyable!
re: Paris Cocktails
“[A] delicate balance of chic and kitsch references… and no shortage of drinks inspired by French artists, writers and revolutions, shared by some of the city’s finest mixologists.”
– Elaine Sciolino, The New York Times Style Magazine
Top photo by @charlottebergan