Hello from somewhere near the French-German border! After a thoroughly satisfying week in Paris, James and I are headed to Munich. Boy oh boy, did we learn a lot in Paris — about ourselves, about what it’s like to travel with a companion (we’re both seasoned solo travelers), and, most surprisingly, about what it truly means to love a place.
To Flan or Not to Flan
As we were planning our trip, I was absolutely convinced that I wanted to get my next tattoo in Paris. Somehow I became aware of, and subsequently consumed by, the French word flâneur. Used as both a noun and a verb, it means a person who wanders around aimlessly, or to embrace the idea of getting lost. I always thought this concept was so beautiful, so quintessentially French, and the perfect tattoo idea. For months I’ve been determined to embrace my inner flâneur, especially in Paris, or “flan about” as James and I have lovingly abbreviated it. After a week of faux flanning, I can report that I’ve failed — epically. I’m a failed flâneur. Some people believe that getting lost in a city is the best way to really see it. For me, it’s the best way to make me cranky. Here’s what I learned:
It’s more comfortable to wander around aimlessly when you’re own your own. Traveling with James made it more difficult for me to feel free enough to wander in and out of shops and cafes. There’s an added pressure, whether we like it or not, to make sure our fellow traveler is having a great time.
I’m a planner, not a flanner. Going with the flow is just not in my DNA. Much to my chagrin, I’m never going to be a person who doesn’t want or love to plan and organize and obsesses over the details. There are times when I wish I could loosen the reigns a little bit. But then I plan a trip like this one and think — way to go me.
I left Paris sans a new tattoo but with a deeper understanding of the crazy control freak that I am, feeling empowered to embrace it.
More Paris Recommendations (You asked for ’em!)
La Piccolina – There are lots of restaurants close to the Eiffel Tower that are happy to scoop up a few extra euros from the tourist crowd. Trudge a few more blocks north of the Champs de Mar and you’ll find tiny La Piccolina. Pizzas and pastas on a prix fixe. We did it all + a bottle of Chianti for under €50. They have no website (how adorable) so here’s the address: 31 Avenue de la Bourdonnais, 75007.
Café des Deux Moulins – If you’ve ever seen the movie Amelie (and if you haven’t, for the love of God, stop what you’re doing and watch it immediately), this is the cafe where she waitresses and bats her weird little eyelashes at strangers. I can’t vouch for the quirkiness of the staff but they do a great bottle of champagne here.
Le Chinon – After getting lost a few times trying to find this store, we missed our walking tour of Montmartre and decided it was a sign from God that we should sit down and eat again. This place feels more like a bar that serves food than the reverse and is more on the busy than quaint side of Montmartre. But good food, good people watching. Pretty much true of all of Paris.