Valérie Levilain talks about her passion for film and TV, as well as her success as a blogger. Having maintained her blog Shunrize for more than ten years, Valérie Levilain has distinguished herself by gaining thousands of followers and receiving a Golden Blog Award Culture, recognized by the town hall of Paris. In her exclusive interview with LocalBini she gives tips to aspiring bloggers, and reveals her insider knowledge and recommendations for travellers visiting Paris for the first time.
What is your passion?
I am passionate about many different things, such as writing. But, my two greatest passions have always been TV and cinema. It’s a passion that was fostered through my parents, who often took me to the cinéma, and allowed me to rent films and watch TV without any restrictions.
Would you say you fulfill your passion for a living?
I still watch as many films and television shows as I did when I was younger. Also, thanks to my blogging success, I get invited to attend movie premiers. I also have an unlimited UGC card, while my subscriptions to Netflix, Canal+ and OCS allow me to watch as many films as I please. Furthermore, I am very grateful for the fact that I get to combine my passion with my work, since I am a journalist in that field.
How did you manage to advance your career as a blogger?
I never imagined that blogging would become such a great part of my life. But I don’t actually make a living out of my blog, because there are no advertisements, affiliations, or sponsored tickets. However, Shunrize has helped advance my career as a journalist, by providing me with both visibility and exposure to the industries I am most interested in.
What advice would you give to young bloggers who aspire to become as popular as you?
Honestly, when I first created my blog in 2005, I didn’t really aspire to have so many followers. Ambition is sometimes a strong motivator, but starting a blog just to become popular is not, in my opinion, the right way to go about it. There is no miracle recipe to success. If you want people to stay interested in what you are doing, you simply have to be yourself and do things with passion.
How would you define success? How do you measure up to your own definition of it?
I believe that each person’s definition of success varies according to his own goals and ambitions. Building up my audience to seduce brands was never was something I was concerned with. In creating my blog, the only thing I wanted to do was to share my opinions and discoveries. Everything that resulted from that, for me, was a success: from the very first comment, to meeting new people, to being able to keep the blog running until now. Knowing that I get easily distracted, I consider the fact that I managed to maintain my blogging for 11 years a great victory.
Does your job allow you to meet people from all around the world?
Through interviewing people, I get to travel to Toronto, to Los Angeles, to London and many more places. Despite my shyness, meeting people is one of the favorite parts of my job. Getting to know people from all around the world is such an enriching experience, and it often makes you reflect on yourself and on what you want to achieve in life.
What advice would you give to someone visiting Paris for the first time?
I would advise travellers to walk through the Aligre market, explore the Garden of Plants, or to explore the heart of the covered galleries (Véro-Dodat, Grand-Chef, Vivienne, Panoramas…). I also recommend enjoying the view from the banks of the Seine, or discovering street art at la Villette. The most beautiful things to see in Paris are not always things you have to pay for. By walking around and losing yourself in the streets, instead of taking the metro, you can discover wonders. That is how you can obtain a truly authentic Parisian experience, and discover Paris beyond all the “must-sees”.
How important is travelling for you? Is it a big part of your life?
Travelling is important to me as I consider it a means of accumulating enriching experiences. It is an opportunity to see new things and discover new activities, new people, new smells, new flavours… Travelling makes me feel new emotions and helps put my everyday life in perspective. For example, after having lived 3 years in Martinique, I have come to appreciate the public transport system in France much more than before!
At LocalBini, we believe that the people you meet are what you remember the most; they are the ones who can turn your trip into a memorable experience. What is your opinion on this?
I completely agree. Last July, my husband and I went for a tour of West Canada for our honeymoon. It was the first time I was travelling as part of a group, and I learned so much. Apart from the beautiful landscapes and all the great adventures we had, one of the main reasons our trip was so memorable was because of Joe, our delightfully friendly Quebec tour guide. He was a remarkable man, who managed to transmit his passion for Native American culture to us. Not only did we learn so much, but we also caught his passion and enthusiasm!