I’m not really a city person.
When I travel, I prefer to stay in lively, smallish university towns, small villages with good train connections, or even somewhere in the wilderness. I like being able to walk from one end of a place to another, mapping the whole thing on my feet over the course of a few days or weeks. I like that villagey community feeling. I like wide-open spaces.
Which is why it shocked me when I arrived in Paris and immediately fell in love.
I was expecting another big city. Certainly one with lots of things to see. Certainly one beloved around the world. But a big city all the same.
Instead, what I found was a hundred tiny villages all cobbled together, each with their own distinct feeling. As one of the interviewees in my new book says, “we all have our own tiny Paris.”
I was particularly fond of Montmartre (so I wasn’t surprised when it was the top recommended neighborhood by my interviewees), where many of the great writers and artists I studied in college lived, making art and trouble, so many years ago.
I also loved Le Marais, the lively gay and Jewish neighborhood (pause there and take that in). And so many other back streets and tiny neighborhoods my good friend (and fabulous tour guide) led me through.
Each place felt so different—La Defense so corporate and buttoned-up, the center of town so bustling with travelers from around the world (let’s be honest: that part was a little too much for me), Bercy Village so quaint and, well, village-like, and, of course, Montmartre, hilly and beautiful and so very lived-in.
In short, I finally found a city that felt like the European villages and university towns and hidden-away corners that I loved so much.
Which is one of the reasons that Paris was so high up my list of places to write a guidebook for.
I started with Italy because it, too, has a special place in my (foodie) heart. And I’ve spent lots of time there. And when I surveyed my readers early in the year, it was high up on their to-visit list.
And then, earlier this week, I published my new Paris guide. Because it’s my favorite city and because so many of you surveyed wanted to travel there as well.
Gathering and reading and editing the interviews for the guide made me nostalgic.
I miss the small cafes with big glass windows, where I could have a multi-course lunch for 15 euros while people-watching and waiting for my elegant American-turned-Parisian friend, Dani, to join me after work.
I miss wandering the cobblestone streets in search of a worthy boulangerie (hint: they’re all pretty worthy) or a new handbag.
And most of all I miss girls’ nights in luxurious leather-seat bars with bright-colored cocktails, or in smallish neighborhood bars with delicious tapas and strawberry mojitos, or in my friend’s living room, where we’d try new wines with warm appetizers as we gazed out the window at the typically Parisian streetscape.
Just in case you’re planning your own visit, I’ve pulled together some of my favorite things. Recommendations. Old blog posts. Etcetera. (And, of course, there’s the guidebook, which does Paris far more justice than I ever could on my own.)
For my own experiences, favorites, and recommendations, though, see below:
Where To Stay In:
Costs + Budgets For:
My Favorite Experiences:
SHOPPING THE LES PUCES FLEA MARKET / DRINKING RHONE WINE FROM CAVES DE ABBESS
Going to Paris?
I wrote a book for you.