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Adrian Leeds at her desk

Adrian Leeds came to Paris twenty years ago with a husband and a baby and a plan to stay one year. The baby is now a grown daughter, the husband is no longer in the picture, and she’s become the undisputed queen of the American real estate market here. And a permanent resident.

She may be best known outside Paris as the main character in 19 of the popular “House Hunters International” TV shows on HGTV. (If you’ve missed it, the popular show follow buyers or renters as they kick the tires of three properties before choosing one. The French shows are set mainly in Paris and run the gamut from multi-million-euro pads with view of the Eiffel Tower to student housing that’s considerably less grand.)

Her business empire, now operating under the name Adrian Leeds Group, finds properties, handles rentals and promotes fractional ownership.

Her main vehicle for contacting customers and prospective customers is the written word. She publishes three newsletters – the original, Parler Paris; a more technical one called French Property Insider; and her newest, begun when she bought an apartment in Nice, Parler Nice.

She lives and works in a very trim and very white apartment in the “haut Marais,” on the Right Bank between the Archives Nationales and Place de la République. We had lunch at the busy Café Charlot, one of her favorite lunch places, then walked around the corner to the old-fashioned carriage entrance that leads to her building on a quiet courtyard. It’s a popular neighborhood for Americans, and you’re likely to hear as much English as French around the café.

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Café Charlot, a busy bistro in the Marais

Everyone who’s watched her House Hunters International shows has seen the apartment, because a part of every episode is filmed there. The living room is dominated by her long desk under the windows, where she keeps two desktop computers and parks her ever-present Macbook Pro (plus, the day I was there, a copy of my novel Treasure of Saint-Lazare).

The opposite wall is all books, and at the end there is a striking 1988 composition by the photographic artist Barbara Kasten. You’ll see it in the background of the video.


Part-Time Parisian interview with Adrian Leeds