Laura Byrne Paquet

Travel Writing

Along with my books, Wanderlust: A Social History of Travel and Secret Ottawa, I’ve written dozens of travel articles about destinations as disparate as Malta, Tokyo, Paris and Istanbul. My article for the Ottawa Citizen about the Caribbean island of Montserrat won the 2006 award for best newspaper article about an international destination from the North American Travel Journalists Association.

One of my specialties is writing about ways travellers can “live like locals”—whether that involves renting an apartment, doing a house swap, working as a volunteer or meeting like-minded people abroad.

Here are a few of my favourite pieces.

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Mellow Montserrat
Published in The Ottawa Citizen

When people found out I was going to Montserrat, they usually had one of two questions: “Where on earth is Montserrat?” or “Wasn’t it destroyed by a volcano or a hurricane or something?”  
Read on

World at My Doorstep
Published in The Ottawa Citizen

Can you imagine living on a street where you could pick up just about anything you might need for an elegant dinner party, from rare wines and a festive cake to sandals and a floral centrepiece, all within a five-minute walk of your front door? I couldn’t, either, until my husband and I rented a studio apartment on the rue Delambre, an inconspicuous four-block street in Paris’s 14th arrondisement.
Read on

Home Sweet Time Machine in London
Published in Islands

Wax candles have burned low in their holders and the salty smell of roasting mutton fills the basement kitchen. On a scarred table, a gingerbread cookie props open an ancient children’s book. Upstairs, a bundle of silks awaits a seamstress, with a note attached: “Coronation date July 19, 1821. Do by July 1.”   
Read on








Meze in Istanbul
Published in National Geographic Traveler

As we sat on a terrace on the Asian side of Istanbul, overlooking the ancient city’s domes, our waiter covered the table with Turkish hors d’oeuvres, or meze: marinated vegetables, flatbread topped with ground lamb and peppers, fried eggplant. 
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Bathing Beauty
Published in Glow

Gülay Basmaci, our guide, couldn’t believe I wanted to go to a public hamam—a Turkish bath. In a hopeful voice, she reminded me there was a nice hamam in our hotel. 
Read on








Mugged by Deer in Yonkers
Published in The Ottawa Citizen

I saw the deer just north of Yonkers, New York. At first, I was convinced he was a lawn ornament. He had to be. On my left, rush hour traffic hummed south along Route 9 toward Manhattan. Beyond that, commuters read papers on Metro North trains clattering beside the Hudson River. On my right, not 300 feet away, construction workers were erecting an apartment building. No deer would live in the midst of all this, I told myself. Then he moved.    
Read on

Sleep, Interrupted: Fortuitous Trip to Outhouse Exposes Magic of Swiss Mountain
Published in The Ottawa Citizen

“Is this it?” we asked each other in confusion as we looked at the Oberhornsee. “Are you sure?”   
Read on


You can also read my evaluations of many of Ottawa's best-known sites and attractions at