You won't find it on the pages of a travel brochure
or wrapped up in a long line at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.
A better way to satisfy your Paris hunger is to concentrate
on the ordinary, the unembellished, under-reported places
that seem to emerge, like magic, out of thin air.
Pay attention to little things -- the everyday minutiae
that connect you to the city in ways you've never imagined.
It will bolster your Paris awareness, helping you experience
the city like a local -- and isn't that what we ultimately crave?
For a change, concentrate on the straightforward, small-potatoes stuff.
Remember the tv show about "nothing"?
Seinfeld's concept was simple -- episode after episode about the
every day absurdities of life like hanging out in a
parking lot or waiting for a restaurant table.
Of course, in Paris, you'll look for something a bit more elevated -- yet
it is those wonderful little moments -- les bonnes choses de la vie --
that make life in the french capital so interesting.
Yes, in a city best known for its overwhelming monuments, sometimes a day
doing "nothing" is exactly what you need to make your heart go pitter-patter.
where English is spoken without regret.
My husband loves The Moose*, a cosy Canadian sports bar where
beer and friendly conversation welcome all those who long for a taste of home.
It's an "everyone knows your name" kind of place -- good beer, good cheer
and a warm welcome make it a treasure for those far from home.
*officially named The Moosehead
Of course, if you're a scheming wife, The Moose offers ample
opportunity for a few hours of freedom.
I get the privilege of solitary wandering while my grateful husband
is exempt from what he calls the "forced march."
We're both happy.
Tracing the streets of my favorite neighborhood or chancing on
a new jewel is the only priority on easy days like these.
A favorite pharmacy on rue du Four is a must
when I have a few hours to "kill".
This melting-pot of fancy french skincare goo holds court to my
feminine side, nearly as enlightening (I'm lying) as
the great works of art at the Louvre.
Aaah, but it's Paris -- where laugh lines are celebrated....
I'm not referring to the Champs-Elysées or Place Vendome type destinations.
For these relaxed "less is the new more" days, target less
complicated addresses like Place Dauphine and rue des Barres
which then lead you to the spiritual calm of St. Gervais-St. Protais
church which then leads you to .... get the picture?
Romantic, utterly Parisian, ridiculously beautiful,
these are the wanders that you'll cherish forever.
Some of the best "reality shows" in all of France are the hidden-
in-plain-sight spots where locals gather and tourists overlook.
Like slathering chocolate icing on a freshly baked cake,
you know it's going to be good.
The french way of life is on parade and it's yours for the taking.
Whether it's an outdoor market, a candy store or
a café, if it whispers your name, heed the siren's call.
One of the fringe benefits of searching for the small stuff is that
you'll never feel like you're in a competition.
Happy endings are your blue ribbon and they come as
easily as saying yes to your imagination.
Taste something you've never before tried.
It will open you up to something ELSE.
And that's exactly when and where the real magic happens.
that popped up when I least expected them.
Like the "pee pee" picture just above that points the way to the WC.
Or the charming little alleys and courtyards
that you chance upon on an early morning walk.
Don't follow a script, just lead with your gut.
This is the real Paris.
You won't be able to get enough of it.
and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
Ferris Bueller, man-about-town, high school wise guy philosopher
So there you have it.
Even in an imposing superstar city like Paris,
so often it's the small stuff that fuels your travel joie de vivre.
Grab the small change.
Go to the perfume counter.
Or sit in a tiny neighborhood park.
Find your spiritual calm.
Bookstore, library, shoe store -- no matter, just about any
small Paris pleasure is worthy of your time.
Some may call these diminutive gifts "guilty pleasures".
Not me, this is air, this is living.
Liberate your confined conceptions of travel.
"What's my guilty pleasure? The thing is, I never feel guilty about my pleasure."
Tom Hiddleston, British Actor
A day of doing nothing can be the best day ever.
You never know what doors will open for you.
And believe me, that's no yada yada yada....