How to make the most of a trip to Paris? We travel for the same reason we read fiction: to expand our life experiences via the magical “what if …?” (What if my little sister were drafted to compete in The Hunger Games? What if I lived in Paris?) Fresh perspectives and new information are exhilarating.
I’d like to be more of a “visitor” in Paris than just a “tourist” zooming past the landmarks in a big air- conditioned bus, but it’s not that easy. Here’s my plan.
- Take as much time as I can. Three weeks.
- Stay in one place. Squander that time, lavish it on a small slice of Parisian life rather than spreading it thin around the entire country. In this case, we’ll be centered around Isle de la Cite, walking whenever possible to our destinations.
- Live in a residence, not a hotel. This match-making of visitor to landlord has become so simple via the Internet. AirBnB can locate a home, a room or an apartment for a range of budgets. I found an apartment overlooking the Seine, across from Notre Dame, using ParisAttitude, http://www.parisattitude.com.
- Take a class. A little structure added to the weeks is a good thing. Striding with the crowd on a busy street, I’ll be headed to an appointment: in this case, cooking classes for English speakers, discovered at http://www.lacuisineparis.com. French grammar classes to be scheduled. There are many options.
- Be a regular. Walking the neighborhood, we’ll choose a coffee shop, a newsstand, a café/bar and a laundry. For a little while, we’ll drop by on a daily basis.
I hope this combination will work the magic to bust us out of the tourist bubble and let us live as friendly visitors, absorbing the atmosphere, observing and expanding our horizons.