Mental & physical vitality give you a leg up on the good life.
Alive & kicking or dull & indifferent, the choice is simple.
Our basic needs boil down to some pretty uncomplicated fundamentals.
EAT, DRINK, SLEEP, THINK, MOVE.
So what does this have to do with traveling to Paris?
You'll want to be rosy-cheeked and full of esprit
to get the very most out of your dream vacation.
Too many of us plan THE BIG TRIP and then get
preoccupied with just one or two of the basics.
We go for a fancy make-our-friends-jealous hotel -- or,
worse yet, blow all our cash on one big-shot dining experience.
Travel is a life force.
So to make the most of it, I suggest you find a balance between
the feasting, decanting, snoozing, learning and moving your buns.
If you hope to experience Paris like a local -- and who wouldn't --
think first about the nuts and bolts of daily living and
take special care to lay a solid and mindful foundation.
I recommend potatoes.
Better yet, try aligot, the ooey gooey fantasy song and dance
made of potatoes, Cantal cheese and a strong arm.
You see, in Paris, even the humble potato is noble.
It will make you sing.
There is absolutely no rule that you must go to a Michelin starred restaurant
or go begging for a reservation with monsieur-chef-du-moment.
If that's important to you, fine -- do it -- but remember, if you don't blow your
cash on just one or two over-the-top dinners, you can afford
to stay in Paris longer -- and experience & taste -- so much more.
My own personal preference is grand-mère cuisine -- you know -- the
heart-warming, health-giving cookery that someone's french grandma
served at Sunday lunch for the last 60 years.
Read up about food before you leave home and search for
out-of-the-way local eateries serving up real food to real locals.
Alec Lobrano's "Hungry for Paris" is a good place to start.
Try something new -- maybe even a little scary -- and the rewards
will stay with you for a lifetime -- a la Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast".
Ban the electronics at the table.
Focus on the tastes and smells and good cheer that surround you.
Slow down. Enjoy.
Stop just short of a tummy-ache.
Keep in mind, you get to do it again tomorrow.
Aah, the best part.
Café crème, aperitif, digestif -- just saying the words make me thirsty.
Indulging in liquid savoir-faire has never been so rewarding.
Paris has it all and though you need to take care not to over-nourish
your desires with too many alcoholic pleasures, I say it's an
absolute necessity to irrigate your throat well and often.
Here too, a little pre-trip homework is in order.
Paris does not live on wine alone so even if you're a true-blue wino,
have a little fun by trying something new and strange.
Taste the sparkling waters born in the bucolic mountain streams of France.
Or sample a unique aperitif or two, perhaps a glass of Chartreuse --
an exotic brew still made by monks, instilled with
130 fresh herbal extracts drawn from the green Alps.
Whether it's cider from Normandy or an exotic Gallic cocktail,
drinking in Paris is second to none.
And the choices!
If you are pre-programmed to order only one type of grape,
branch out and embrace a new vine.
Don't be afraid to ask your server or your bartender for suggestions.
This is THE place to drink while drinking in the magnificent
sights, sounds and culture of Paris.
A votre santé -- To your health!
Sleep comfortably, but not too much.
You're in Paris!
My personal theory, after much experience agonizing over this very issue,
is that your accommodation choice is less important than
most of the other fundamentals of trip planning.
The location-location-location mantra does apply but lucky you,
there are dozens of choice locales in this fairy-tale city.
I've stayed in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 14th and 17th (arrondissement)
and expect to find a brand new adventure in the 11th next time.
My point is this.
Each new neighborhood unveils a new Paris secret.
I once stayed in a hotel because it was the love nest of the
famously passionate Man Ray and Kiki de Montparnasse.
I didn't love the Wi-Fi but savagely savored the historical soap opera context.
Hotels are perfect for shorter stays -- in and out, nothing to worry about.
Apartments are better for longer stays.
If you're staying a week or longer (and I hope you are),
don't miss the chance to "own" your own flat and feel like a real Parisian.
You'll be able to enjoy breakfast at home, throw in a load of laundry
and get excited over taking out the garbage (kidding).
So find a place that suits your basic needs and stop worrying.
And be free to concentrate on all the fabulous art, architecture,
food, drink, love and personality that you can stand.
Because this is Paris, theater of dreams.
Your innermost thoughts are crucial to an upbeat experience.
Positive, negative and everything in-between punctuates every step you take.
Fill your days with new experiences.
Explode your brain.
Museums, art galleries, conversations, shopping -- it's all new and exotic.
Work your mind and expand your horizons.
"Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right."
Whenever I hear someone carelessly say "The french are rude" or
"They don't like Americans", I know it's because they've heard it
before and arrive expecting nasty treatment.
Their presumptuous negativity likely drives a negative experience.
But if you forecast nothing but the best, you'll usually find it again and again.
Study a little french history.
It will reward you as you walk the streets of Paris.
Look up and find the little plaques on buildings that
commemorate the legends who lived there.
Take a chance and get lost in a new neighborhood.
You're usually just steps away from a Metro
where you can find your bearings again.
You'll discover amazing experiences in places just around the block.
The pharmacy down the street, the butcher shop around the corner,
the school two doors down ... all offer illuminating glimpses
into a life that's different from your own.
Opt for something atypical from the Paris Top 10 List -- perhaps the
Musée Guimet or the Musée du quai Branly where you'll find
a whole host of different cultures.
You already know there's much more to the Louvre than just the Mona Lisa,
so check out their anything-but-vanilla offerings such as the Islamic arts collection.
Lose yourself in graffiti on the streets of the Belleville neighborhood.
Listen to french music. Go to a concert. Break your routine.
Get interested in something and do it with gusto.
Study and imagine. Understand and digest. Then start all over again.
Beautiful thoughts will energize you as your inquiring mind works overtime.
Compare popular culture in France to your own brand.
Look at ads and magazine covers, graffiti and subway posters.
This trip will change your life.
"Life's short. Anything could happen, and it usually does, so there is no point
in sitting around thinking about all the ifs, ands and buts."
This one is easy, right?
You're going to walk and walk and walk until you collapse in a cafe chair.
No FitBit, no counting calories, no logging steps, no worry about
the belly roll above your lycra pants....
Roaming Paris is all about the joy of discovery.
You can bike, roller-blade, swim or do tai chi in the park, but
remember, walking is your best friend and number one essential --
and it doesn't take up any space in your suitcase.
Whether it's a slow evening stroll or a brisk morning walk, this is the kind of exercise we dream about -- and it's fun because it comes so naturally.
Truly, a good wander is the best medicine in life --
and a wander in Paris will make you feel immortal.
MOTION and EMOTION go together and Paris is perfect for both.
With this much inspiration surrounding you,
it's easy to put some snap in your stride.
It all boils down to ENTHUSIASM.
"If you're walking the right path and you're willing to keep walking,
eventually you'll make progress."
If you're walking in Paris, you're definitely on the right path.
Be your own hero in Paris, the fun person who's underneath
crusty old layers of obligation and circumstance.
Quarterback of beauty, knowledge, and pleasure.
Even as you confront the sometimes disheartening stress of travel,
you'll soon discover if you keep the essentials balanced,
the best of Paris will come to you.
Travel helps you overcome obstacles, take control and prove to the
world -- and yourself -- you can accomplish anything.
Keep it real, strike a balance and eat, drink, sleep, think and move.
You'll feel the earth move.
Your face will light up, the tone of your voice will change,
and the happy-go-lucky version of you will re-emerge.
Remember, no matter how far you have traveled,
you can never get away from yourself.
Take good care of number one and Paris will do the rest.