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She loves Paris, pastries, and ‘Women Who Rock’

We caught up with photographer Susan Wilson to talk about all things travel

Susan Wilson feeds pigeons on the Seine in Paris.Handout

During National Women’s Month, it’s only fitting that the Boch Center’s electronic marquee on Tremont Street is displaying (until mid-April, actually) a digital photo exhibit called “Women Who Rock.” The rotating images of an eclectic mix of artists, ranging from Carly Simon to Judy Collins to Tina Turner, were all shot in Boston by acclaimed photographer Susan Wilson. “I was honored to be asked to do this,” said Wilson, who is also an author, scholar, and house historian at the Omni Parker House. “And it was so much fun going through all of my old negatives for this exhibit.” Over the years, Wilson’s photo-taking trajectory shifted from rock and folk musicians to classical performers, and now that she’s “working toward retirement,” she is looking forward to traveling more — including to her favorite vacation destination: Paris. The Madison, N.J., native and her partner, classical violist Rebecca Strauss, split their time between their homes in Waltham and Wellfleet, and their photo studio in Cambridge. We caught up with Wilson to talk about all things travel.

Favorite vacation destination?


Paris, France. Since early childhood I have been obsessed with Paris. Perhaps I had a former life there; if I did, I’m guessing it was the 1920s. When I’m there, it feels like I am home. I love the Seine, Ile de la Cité and Ile St. Louis, the cobbled back streets, the ancient architecture, the museums, the parks, the bookstalls along the Seine. Whenever possible, I try to light a candle in Notre Dame cathedral and visit the graves of Edith Piaf, Frederic Chopin, Jim Morrison, and all the rest of the notables at Père Lachaise Cemetery. In 1980, I made a vow that I would never let three years go by without visiting Paris. This past year was the first time I was off-schedule.

Favorite food or drink while vacationing?


A nice red wine and fresh-baked bread, rolls, or pastries.

Where would you like to travel to but haven’t?

Prague and Budapest, because everyone I know says I would love [the two cities] – for their historic architecture, winding streets, extraordinary old cemeteries, and general Old World charm. Hmmm, it sounds like I’m describing Paris!

One item you can’t leave home without when traveling?

My camera.

Aisle or window?

Window, to take aerial photos, especially on takeoff and landing.

Favorite childhood travel memory?

When I was a kid growing up in New Jersey in the 1950s, I was obsessed with Disney TV shows and movies. So when my best friend’s family asked me when I was about 11 if I wanted to join them on a summer trip to California, I knew that my greatest fantasy — going to Disneyland — would become a reality. And it did.

Guilty pleasure when traveling?

See my answer to favorite food or drink while vacationing.

Best travel tip?

Wear black clothes that don’t require ironing; that way you can mix and match anything without worrying about clashing colors. And you can look respectable and respectful whether you’re at a cafe or in a cathedral.