Paris is a sure thing.
Attracting over 27,000,000 visitors a year,
Paris is the high priestess of the travel industry.
One thing you can bet on, Paris oozes personality.
Multiple personalities, that is.
Subtle shades of light and shadow, womanly curves and brutal legend.
Magnetic, dynamic, distinguished -- sometimes a bit
formidable and cranky -- but always -- ALWAYS,
If you begin your visit expecting one thing, then you'll probably find it.
But if you like to search out the subtle differences, the complex character
that surprises and inspires, start looking for her variegated textures,
opportunities that don't necessarily show up in your travel guide.
Discover delightful stops and unexpected whiffs of experiences that
are really quite easy to find if you have the guts to tempt fortune and roam the city.
It's all there in the diverse smorgasbord we call Paris.
Let's face it.
You don't wear a badge that says "slightly odd female, Paris fanatic"---
that would be me --- nor do you want to be viewed in only one color.
It's the same when you visit this city.
If you think of Paris as a place to knock out in 3 days with the
you've heard about, then indeed, that's probably what you'll find --- and not much else.
Instead, let's talk about what Paris does best.
Then, as you decide what works best for your heart's desire,
I'm betting your thoughts of this world-class destination will evolve.
Get out of your logical brain for a minute so you can uncover
the uncommon and catch the curve-ball Paris offers.
First things first.
It's not a catastrophe to get lost for an hour or so, to ditch your usual
well-organized common sense and play the ponies.
Take a chance, enjoy the uncertainty.
Before long, you too may turn into an oddball Paris fanatic,
ready to trade in a kidney for the chance to return again next year.
Oh yeah, they've got this one covered.
L'amour is everywhere.
Rodin's "The Kiss", lovers on every bridge, in every park, on every street corner.
Sex and sexy must have been invented on these streets.
Annoying to some, attraction for others, this is one Paris legend that you really can't avoid.
So just join in.
Or at least allow for a little flight of fancy.
Flirt with a waiter or write a love letter, unclog your itinerary to take pleasure,
slow --- slower ---- there, that wasn't so hard, was it....
At the very least, you'll love yourself more.
The French language is ridiculously romantic and everywhere you turn, you'll see
stimulating art, fresh flowers and gardens, lovers loving, and platters of raw oysters.
I say, turn up the volume.
Kiss a frog.
Eat some chocolate.
Buy some sexy underwear.
Be passionate --- at least for your french fries.
Whether you're a morning person or a night owl, you'll
love it when the lights come on in the late evening.
Paris is called The City of Light for two reasons.
Number one, it was the center of ideas during the Age of Enlightenment,
a time when learning and sharing and thinking rocked the world.
It remains a city of enlightenment, where writers, philosophers and creative people
share their vision, inspired by the streets that surround them.
A second reason Paris is called the City of Light is the seemingly
supernatural phenomenon of their gorgeous nightly light show.
The whole landscape looks as if it's been designed by celestial spirits versed with
a talent for making the city's already gorgeous architecture even more ---- Paris-y.
Paris at night is so ablaze in beautiful lights, you'll stop counting your steps
and forget about your aching feet and emptying wallet.
Paris is one of those lucky "ladies" who doesn't need any makeup.
But hear me now, those nighttime highlights they put in her hair
transform the already stunning Paris into the goddess she is --
shimmering, over-the-top, shot through and through with uncontested glamor.
Paris at night is red lipstick and Chanel No. 5, unpredictable, irresistible.
We've seen the videos.
Statuesque models strutting down the runway,
their savage good looks fine tuned to perfection.
But that's not what "gets" me when I visit Paris.
It's the everyday man and woman on the street, polished, classic
-- even in jeans --
looking better than your average earthling.
They don't just schlep around like the rest of us.
From their cool eyewear to their hip wrap-around mile long scarves (sometimes even
in the heat of summer), your average Paris local looks pulled together and distinctly Parisian.
David Lebovitz, the American pastry chef turned Paris-based food blogger/cookbook author, once described a scene where he knew he was finally a Parisian as he pulled on
a button down shirt and pressed jeans just to take the garbage out.
So if you don't have the budget to visit the House of Chanel or
shop on Avenue Montaigne, at least take a few notes.
Look at the quality of their shoes and handbags, the sophistication of a vintage watch.
Admire the restraint they cherish when it comes to makeup, hair and accessories.
So the next time you run to the grocery store in your yoga pants or
slap on every piece of jewelry you own, all at the same time.....
Paris fashion = style, taste and careful editing.
Does anyone do food as well as the French?
While some may throw stones, calling French cuisine tired or overly rich,
I double-dog-dare-you to try not to eat well when you're in Paris.
You'd have to make a real (and foolish) effort.
Enjoy the culinary banquet.
Look for out of the way places on side streets and in
neighborhoods that don't surround the top tourist targets.
Take your time.
Let's "do lunch" means something different here.
The gastronomical meal of the French is listed on UNESCO's World Heritage List -
the same list that promotes the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Colosseum in Rome.
The ritual of fine dining is as important to the French as the food they eat.
That doesn't always mean a white tablecloth and four courses.
Sunday lunch in the country or dinner at Grandmere's table is proof positive that the
social aspects contribute as much as the food to the passion for French culinary arts.
Food here, and the time spent enjoying it, is golden.
A treasure and a pleasure enjoyed by all.
Order a cheese plate.
So whether you dine at l'Arpège or Guy Savoy -- or hanker for the rotisserie chicken
dripping its golden fat on some lucky potatoes down the block, please look
at your plate the way a Paris local does -- not just nourishment
or calories, but an esteemed part of a long culinary tradition.
And for heaven's sake, please don't forget -- wine is food, too.
Tilt a glass or two with every meal.
Writers, philosophers, cartoonists.
These are the people that influence Parisians.
Artists and innovators, chefs, intellectuals and designers.
Political debate is hot.
The price of your home is not.
Knowledge and history are sacred.
The Fine Arts, a good liberal arts education, language and conversation are admired.
Liberté, égalité, fraternité is not just a clever slogan.
Look around, listen.
When you're sipping a coffee at your new favorite café,
compare it to the voices in your own head.
Yes, French people love sports too --- but their discourse seems a bit more cerebral than ours. Books, movies, and abstract ideas often hold center court.
I'm not saying Parisians have a higher IQ, just that the ability to use words
and share ideas -- succinctly, intelligently -- are given their due.
Go to a bookstore.
Discover new art.
Learn to ENJOY disagreement in a political discussion.
Join the conversation.
Catch the fever -- beyond the Eiffel Tower.
Truly The Best of Paris