On My Terms
October 3, 2012 § 1 Comment
My day in Paris only got better. After coffee, I had lunch at this gem. Then I hopped on the Metro to the Marais, arguably one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the entire city.
As I strolled through the streets of the Marais, listening to my ipod, I started to crave ice cream. A severe pang of nostalgia followed. One of my fondest memories from my family’s visits to Paris was eating ice cream cones on the Ile Saint-Louis. So I headed straight for Ile Saint-Louis. I charged through the crowds queued up for Notre Dame and across the bridge to the first Berthillon ice cream stand I could find. I ordered two boules of coconut ice cream and gazed at the Seine.
I took the rest of the afternoon off. I came back to the Marais early in the evening for a cocktail at a “hidden” bar. I capped off the day with a cheap glass of red wine at a brasserie a few blocks away from my host. Even the most unassuming establishments in Paris have extensive wine lists.
I think this trip was such a success because I managed to reach the middle-ground between old and new. I explored places new to me in addition to those I already knew and loved. I primarily sought out the cool, sophisticated side of Paris but embraced clichés. Like Berthillon ice cream.
(Hey, clichés are clichés for a reason, right?)
I’m also reminded of a striking passage from Alain de Botton’s The Art of Travel, when the author visits Madrid but allows a travel guide to more or less dictate his visit. He uses this instance to illustrate the importance of taking a place on your own terms. I used a few online guides–mainly this one— to structure my brief visit to Paris. These were excellent sources of inspiration, though I didn’t adhere to them entirely.
I knew what I wanted to get out my visit: a few good meals. I spent what the average American tourist would spend on admission to museums and monuments on food, drinks, and Metro rides.
I’ve arrived in Dublin. I plan on taking the same approach here as I did in Paris. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.