Renata is a Montana-based photographer, writer, and book author. She credits Paris for sparking her photography career after her first visit there in 2014. Since then, she has returned to Paris several times and continues to do so on a regular basis. She is also absolutely smitten with the French Riviera, to which she dedicated her first photo book, published in July 2019. She is currently working on a Paris-inspired poetry collection.

Urbansider: How would you describe your love affair with Paris?

Renata: Paris and I have an enduring, passionate long-distance relationship that’s still in the honeymoon phase, despite the passing of years. Challenging at times because I can’t be there as much as I wish, but always rewarding when I’m in the city. Paris inspires and fuels my creativity. I’m a better photographer and writer because of it, that’s for sure.

Urbansider: What words do you associate with Paris?

Renata: Art, creativity, longing, history, potential, poetry.

Urbansider: If Paris were a song?

Renata: It would be “ICU,” by Lou Doillon.

Urbansider: What is your favorite Paris-related movie?

Renata: Mr. Morgan’s Last Love, with Michael Caine and Clémence Poésy. A gem!

Urbansider: What would you change in Paris if you had a magic wand?

Renata: I’d put a genuine smile on Parisians’ faces. They never smile! Not in restaurants, not in stores, not on the street. Everyone seems so formal and cold. For an American, that is hard to ignore or get used to.

Urbansider: What souvenir would you bring back from Paris for yourself or for your friends?

Renata: I’d love to bring French cheese, but due to difficult customs regulations I never know which one is safe, so I don’t do that. I do like Fragonard products, like little soaps or soap dishes. And macarons are always popular with everyone!

Urbansider: How has your relationship with Paris evolved?

Renata: I’ve learned very quickly to get out of the touristy areas and explore the neighborhoods thoroughly. See how the locals live. Immerse myself in daily life. Accept that there are certain aspects of Paris I might not like. See it as a living, vibrant city with bruises, baggage, and issues, instead of a stuffy museum collection always looking pretty on display.

Urbansider: What’s your favorite daydreaming spot in Paris?

Renata: The bridges over the Seine, any of them.



Sightseeing: Jardins du Palais-Royal in early spring, when magnolias and tulips are in bloom. Musée Jacquemart-André. Walks along the Seine on a night with a full moon. Tour Eiffel at night.
Stroll: Rue Montorgueil, Place des Vosges, the covered passages, Rue des Francs-Bourgeois
Luxury experience: A drink at the Ritz
Restaurants: Ralph’s Café for atmosphere, Le Coupe-chou and Les Cocottes de Christian Constant for delicious food
Bakeries: Sébastien Dégardin in the 5th has the best pain au raisins I’ve found so far
Shopping: Ralph Lauren flagship store, Galeries Lafayette
Chill: Terraces of Galeries Lafayette (just ignore the crowds – the views are amazing), Luxembourg Gardens, and once again, Palais-Royal
Experience: A fashion show at Galeries Lafayette, Paris at golden hour viewed from the top of the Panthéon, Nuit Blanche

Renata's picks