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Article Archive/May 2011
Updated April 28,
Browne -- Walking the Spirit Tours
The Real Deal!
I stumbled upon this interesting
venture in a forwarded email from Mr. Thomas Clarke
who is like the forwarding guru of Charlotte, NC.
The email was short and to the point but opened the door and my mind
to someone who I would have never met in my little contained world.
She is Ms. Julia Browne – not to be confused
with Downtown Julie Brown, the Black
European actress – CEO and founder of
Walking the Spirit Tours, a
Canadian-based tour company that conducts
Black Heritage Tours of Paris,
France. Yes I said Paris France. Parlez
I immediately began researching Miss Brown and her
company and was quite surprised at the swift positive response that I
received after contacting her about this article. It did not take her
long to jump at an opportunity to gain additional exposure here in
the United States for her
Canadian-based company. On the flip side, I
too was elated because this is my first crack at international
exposure for Trend Magazine
Online™ which is part of our 2011 goals.
So we can both say that this cooperative is mutually
Ms. Browne is indeed a pro at what she does and it
is evident from the beginning. We have been both directing tours for
about the same period of time, since the early
1980’s, so I am not one to fall prey to
pretenders and/or wannabes. She is the real deal and it was truly a
pleasure conversing with someone in the business who operates in
three different countries; the U.S.,
Canada, and France. It is her
Black Heritage Tours of Paris
France that I am currently mostly interested in and will
serve as the subject matter of this article.
It was in 1984 when
Ms. Browne found herself standing on the
Pont des Arts (Bridge of Arts) that
leads from the Left Bank to the Right
Bank and into the courtyard of the Louvre.
“Look left and there stands the Eiffel Tower, look right
and beckoning in Notre Dame Cathedral, Ile St. Louis and the Seine
River. This spot galvanized me when I first stood there, and still
does today. That's Paris – timeless,” she reflects.
As far as her company name (Walking the Spirit), the
inspiration came from out of the blue as she walked and walked and
researched into the ghosts of Black expatriates in
the city (Paris).
17 years later and she now offers a wide variety of both
walking and motorized tours to include: Tour #1
Writers, Artists & Intellectuals, Latin
Quarter/St.Germain-des-Pres; Tour #2 The
Entertainers Lower Montmartre; Tour #3 Africa In
Paris, Spirit of Black Paris 3-3.5 hour Bus Tour, Spirit of Black
Paris 5-hr combination Bus/Walking Tour; all in which she personally
developed. As we do at Queen City
Tours® and Travel, guests are picked up from their
hotel in a climate controlled van or minibus, and whisked away for
their informative and exciting journey.
Ms. Browne, a native of England ,
currently lives near Toronto, Canada (Where she grew
up), however, has spent 11 years in Paris.
She has two guides permanently in Paris conducting
tours year round. Her tours attract people from multiple backgrounds
(Black and white) whom are interested in Paris
history. Although African-American history is her
main focus, she also includes lots of relevant tidbits on
French and Diaspora culture for a
well-rounded vision. All tours are guided by her personable and
knowledgeable guides and guests are mostly intrigued by the
French daily life. Some well-known guests that have
taken her tour include author Sapphire (novel 'Push'
was made into the movie 'Precious'), actress C.C.H
Pounder ('Bagdad Cafe', TV shows: ER, West Wing, nominated
for an Emmy as Best Supporting Actress), and Carole
Simpson (First Black female television reporter in
Chicago, IL). Some of the famous people covered on
her tours are singer Josephine Baker, poet
Richard Wright, author James
Baldwin, and trumpeter Miles Davis.
Like me, her favorite part of her job is
conducting and developing tours which can take up to two months of
research and labor. And for a fee, she will develop a customized
itinerary just for your group (Large or small). We both also are not
too keen on the administrative part of our jobs which is a necessary
evil. In this business we encounter and interact with many
people from a wide variety of backgrounds, countries, and cultures
which occasionally leads to some strange happenings. For instance,
Ms. Browne was completely astonished to learn that
two of the women on her tour in Paris, France,
actually knew her biological father from St. Kitts,
West Indies. In addition, she was watching
House Hunters and was surprised to see a woman on
that show that took her tour. I have actually had neighbors on my
Charlotte city tour that lived right down the street
from each other in California. As the saying
goes,” It’s a small world!”
Ms. Browne holds a degrees in
Tourism and Broadcast Journalism,
and before venturing out on her own she taught
English in France at a state
school, and worked in film production and research. Her short and
long term goals are to continue to educate her guests on
Paris history, as well as spreading
Black heritage around the world. She is currently
developing tours of Washington, DC, and
Canada. Her favorite person is the
African-American female artist and Howard
University educator Lois Mailou Jones. Her
tours make you look at Paris from a different perspective and are not
just a history lesson but offer culture as well. “Travel
opens the mind and soul, helps you gain additional knowledge, and
gets you closer to French and Black culture here,” she
If you would like to plan a trip and tour of Paris,
France; or Toronto, Canada; contact
Queen City Tours and
May 2011 Edition
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