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Cliquez ici pour l'Article en français ! Fourni par Microsoft !

Article Archive/May 2011

Updated April 28, 2011

Ms. Julia Browne -- Walking the Spirit Tours
The Real Deal!
Paris, France

Click to Enlarge Julia Browne Pic!By Jay Whipple/Trend Magazine Online™

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 vous francais?

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 beneficial.

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.

Click to Enlarge Walking the Spirit Tours Pic!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.

Click to Enlarge Julia Browne Pic!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 states.

If you would like to plan a trip and tour of Paris, France; or Toronto, Canada; contact Queen City Tours and Travel.

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