Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Research Trip: Paris Metro, the Eiffel Tower, and Monet

I love research. I could do it forever. It’s a great procrastination technique. While trolling Facebook or Pinterest is hard to justify during my writing hours, researching art nouveau Paris Metro signs is much easier to rationalize.

I usually do my research through the library and the Internet, but I now have a new favorite sub-set of the research phase:  the research trip.

I’ve just returned from a short research trip to Paris. I’m working on DECEPTIVE, the third book in the On The Run series, which features suspense, mystery, international destinations, and a dash of romance.

I’d already roughed out the Paris section of the book, and it was interesting to see what changed after a first-hand look at the city. I’d been lucky enough to visit Paris once before several years ago, so I’d relied on memory, guidebooks, and my photos.

I’d described my main character, Zoe, holding onto a ceiling strap during a ride on the crowded Metro. The Metro was indeed packed, and the basics of the transportation lines were right, but I had one thing off. Turns out that the Metro trains I used (which my main character will also be on) don’t have straps.

I’d also described Zoe getting her first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower when she emerged from the École Militaire station, which should have been possible according to the map, but when I surfaced from that station all I could see where five- and six-story buildings, a tangle of roads converging, and several sidewalk cafes. The sound of a jackhammer echoed over the whole scene from a nearby building under renovation. Not very romantic, but realistic. However, I did find a Metro with a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower, the Alma Marceau.

Some things I had spot-on, like the twin beams of light that shine from the Eiffel Tower at night as well as the delicious food. Much sampling was necessary on the Rue Cler to ensure I had the food part just right. :)

DECEPTIVE is about a search for a missing Monet painting, so I spent time at the Musée d’Orsay, taking in everything I could:  the thickness of the brushstrokes, the size of the canvases, and the size, shape, placement (and sometimes absence) of Monet’s signature. 

I wish this was a Monet painting! Photography wasn't allowed. :( 
I love Impressionist paintings, and I have to say that seeing them first-hand is a completely different experience than looking at them in a book or on-line. I was amazed at the difference a few feet made in the viewing experience. Up close, the brushstrokes dominated in splats or dots of color; a few steps back and—viola!—the cathedral had depth and detail. It was amazing, almost like a hologram. 

The Louvre makes a brief appearance in my book, but only the exterior courtyard with the glass pyramid, so I really didn’t have to spend a whole day inside. 

But I did. 

What can I say? I love museums almost as much as I love research.  

I’m sure I can use it in a book someday…


When not plotting new books that require research trips, Sara writes mystery (Ellie Avery series) and suspense (On the Run series). Deceptive, On the Run Book #3, will be out this summer. The first two books in the series, Elusive and Secretive are available now on Kindle, Nook, iTunes, and Kobo. Publishers Weekly called Sara’s books, "satisfying," "well-executed," and "sparkling."

Sara loves all things bookish, considers dark chocolate a daily requirement, and is on a quest for the best bruschetta. Connect with Sara at You can also find her on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or Goodreads.


  1. A research trip to Paris? You smart cookie!! Guess I'm going to have to include a scene in Paris in MY next book....

  2. This is definitely a research trip I want to take! I love Impressionist paintings and Monet's works are among my favorites. DECEPTIVE sounds intriguing. I'm looking forward to it.

    1. Thanks, Reese. Glad you're looking forward to the book.

      I've been trying to work a Monet painting into a book for years!

  3. Katherine Hall PageMay 2, 2013 at 7:48 AM

    Can't wait to read the book—you're hitting just about all my favorite things and yes, those research trips to places like Paris and Rome are essential!!

  4. If only I'd known how much fun research trips are. Love them! And Rome is on my favorite places list. Looking forward to catching up with Faith in Italy!

  5. I'm obviously setting books in the wrong places. Maybe I should starting thinking outside of the South...Greece would be nice!

    1. I'd love to go to Greece, too. Joint research trip?? :) Far enough away that I can save up??

  6. I can only claim my portion of the expenses, but it's better than nothing!

  7. P.S. I should have mentioned that if you'd like to receive an email notice when DECEPTIVE is out, you can sign up at for my newsletter here:

    I won't overwhelm you with newsletters--promise! I only send one out when I have a release or a sale. :)

  8. Make me want to go to France, why don't you?

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