it's the journey, not the destination....
The truth, of course, is far more complicated.
When in Paris, it's both the journey and the destination.
The art of travel double-dips into our emotions.
Nostalgic flashbacks of previous visits commingle with
our endeavors to live more in the moment.
It's healthy to recall best-loved loved journeys even
as we're on the prowl for fresh sights, experiences and emotions.
Whenever we try to get from Point A to Point B on the Paris map, we've
learned it's a good idea to take an extra minute to ponder these comfortable memories of times past while searching for something new and uncharted.
Inspiration comes in many forms so paint a picture in your head; stay sharp.
Lost in thoughts and dreams, it's easy -- and mistaken -- to
become absorbed in the task alone.
I've long considered Paris to be the sweetest spot on earth.
Paris was built for pedestrians; it's a virtual walk on cloud nine.
If we wholly commit to the culture of traveling on foot, we can center
our focus on unexplored territory at the very time we're enjoying
the most basic of Paris' simple charms.
Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before. Let your soul take you
where you long to be......and you'll live as you've never lived before."
Erich Fromm, psychoanalyst, philosopher, writer
Walking Paris is a religious experience for many of us.
We become connected -- mind and body -- to the city we love most.
But where do we begin?
Friends are always quizzing me about what to see and do in Paris.
At times, I want to pull my hair out, especially when
they've only allowed a few hurried days of "sight-seeing."
The challenge of narrowing down this magnificent city to a list
of must-sees is both frustrating and unreasonable.
I can't possibly send them down every street/alley/corridor
that I've discovered and fallen in love with.
Nor do I care to stuff my incessant infatuation down their throats.
Instead, I try my best to offer a taste of a bit of this and bit of that,
careful to include not just cathedrals and museums but also a few of my
favorite boulangeries, parks, and local markets to get them started.
I slow-walk them through the Metro, my favorite way to get around the city
when I'm not dancing down its magical pathways on two feet.
And I encourage them to get lost -- to take control of their amusement/education/pleasure by veering off guidebook plans
and onto their own impromptu stairway to heaven.
It's transforming when you gather the guts to change the channel.
Some of our happiest moments begin when we stumble on one
thing while looking for something else.
Don't travel with any hard and fast rules.
Instead, rely on a few hard learned insights:
1. Soak it all up before you move on.
Though it may sound trite to say "stop and smell the roses," it's sound advice. When you're in the middle of something unexpected -- colorful,
quirky, surprising -- stop cold and enjoy the moment.
2. Sit down!
Sure, I'm talking about being a pedestrian in Paris, but that
includes taking a seat; Take a time out for the little things:
Champagne. A plate of olives. People watching. Whatever floats your boat.
Abandon the walk for at least an hour to recharge your battery.
3. Visit a cemetery.
It doesn't have to be the biggest or the most famous -- although who can resist
a couple of hours in Père Lachaise? Hunting down Jim Morrison and
Edith Piaf provides sexy fodder for your photo album, but I promise, you may
find something even more memorable as you casually wander around,
discovering the artistry and emotional impact of those immortalized for all time.
4. Eat something that scares you.
And for heaven's sake, don't just stick to the same cheese you eat at home.
Skip the brie and try some etorki.
5. Don't be an over-achiever.
Take time to enjoy the sun.
Then pause to enjoy a gray day when the city's most
iconic architecture looks more ravishing than ever.
6. Remember that Hemingway was into walking Paris, too.
Just like you. Go ahead, find your inner celebrity.
7. Learn a little about who came before you.
Paris is much more than a long list of kings and artists you already recognize.
Check out those who may inspire you on a new level:
Aristide Maillol, AJ Liebling, the Knights Templar, Napoleon III
(no, it's not the guy you're thinking of).... the possibilities are endless.
8. Wonder out loud how the 2024 Summer Olympics
is going to change the city.
It's a good conversation starter in a café.
9. Observe kids and dogs -- always well-behaved & adorable. Almost as amazing as The French Paradox.
10. Make like an astronaut.
"One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" ...
Find your inner explorer and walk off the beaten trail.
Peek into doors and courtyards every chance you get.
11. Embrace your imagination.
That couple over there, is it love or a torrid affair?
Eavesdrop, ask questions, google everything that makes your head spin.
Who is this Mistinguett/Balzac/Baron Haussmann I keep hearing about?
Find out and then write your own story.
12. Spend a day searching out art deco* or art nouveau**.
*Begin here: Jardins du Trocadero & Palais Chaillot
**Begin here: 29 Avenue Rapp and H. Guimard's metro entrances
13. If you're shallow (like me), spend long hours
staring into jewelry store windows.
14. If you're insatiable (like me), spend long hours
staring into cheese shop windows.
Chocolate, ice cream, pastry shops work here as well..... too many temptations to count...
15. I usually don't go for quantity but...
...on the subject of beautiful Paris bridges, try to see and
walk across as many as possible -- twice.
16. Look up, look down, behold inspiration
from every direction.
Paris is a marvel.
17. Go ahead, spend a bit more €€ than you planned.
Life is ridiculously short. Oysters + Sancerre are pricey.
You're worth it and damn it, you don't really need that new phone.
How 'bout that manicure? -- Save your dough and get more Paris.
18. Play make-believe.
House Hunters International fans, if you can't afford to call Adrian Leeds,
strike out on your own and peruse the residential neighborhoods.
Bonus: No need to give a fig about the "perfect view" or that extra bedroom
for friends & family....just enjoy the fantasy.
19. Water, H2O, the essence of life.
Yes, the news stories are true.
You can find FREE SPARKLING WATER at a number of Paris fountains.
Only in Paris. Drink up.
20. Think Twice about Climate Change
Paris is the place where we should all consider
the ramifications of our presence on earth.
There's always time to make the whole world better.
This green city works every day to walk the walk -- and so should we.
Here in Paris, you won't have to look far to find it.
Paris is for pedestrians who can't sit still for long.
They take delight in being alive, grateful for the chance to soak up the dream.
Walk to wake up. Walk to expand your intellect. Walk to find your personal joy.
Walk Paris and feel the love.
If you need a little more inspiration, crank the music up.
"I wish that I could fly
Into the sky
So very high
Just like a dragonfly
I'd fly above the trees
Over the seas in all degrees
To anywhere I please
Oh I want to get away
I want to fly away
Yeah yeah yeah
I want to get away
I want to fly away
Yeah yeah yeah
Let's go and see the stars
The milky ways or even Mars
Where it could just be ours
Let's fade into the sun
Let your spirit fly
Where we are one
Just for a little fun
Oh oh oh yeah"
Lyrics by Lenny Kravitz
I think he must have been to Paris, don't you?