Paris Your Way: in 2 Days or 19 Years
Nineteen years ago today (the 4th), my ‘then husband,’ my daughter and I landed to a new life in Paris, France. We had rented a furnished apartment in the 17th arrondissement, brought with us only personal affects and shipped over our most precious possessions — a collection of art to hang on the walls and make us feel more at home.
We had been tourists for years with an addiction for the city to the point of distraction until one day we realized that if we set the wheels in motion, we could plan to come for a trial period (one year) and see what it was like to actually live in the City of Light.
The rest is history. Getting to know Paris takes more than a year. It takes a lifetime. Even after 19 years, I feel as if I’ve just scratched the surface.
Over dinner last night with Margie Rubin, founder of “Paris Your Way,” who makes it her life’s work to know every nook and cranny of the city, we both agreed. If you think you can come to Paris for two days and see the city, then just don’t bother!
It’s like the old joke based on the 1969 movie, “If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium” where a group of American tourists visit seven countries in 18 days by bus from London to Rome. Sure, maybe in two days you ‘see’ the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre and the River Seine and the Arc de Triomphe…but do you really ‘see’ Paris? No way!
In Julie Delpy’s 2007 film “2 Days in Paris,” at least the “neurotic, hypochondriac, chain-smoking, heavily tattooed American interior designer” Jack spends two days with his French girlfriend’s (Marion, a photographer living in New York City) family and discovers a real inside view of Parisian life skipping all the monuments and superficial side of the city. Jack goes through culture shock as he meets Marion’s numerous ex-lovers and her eccentric parents. (This is my favorite Julie Delpy film and is certainly her funniest!)
When we first moved here and I encouraged my family to visit, one of my relatives asked, “What is there to do outside of Paris?,” to which I was dumbfounded. “Why would you want to leave Paris?” was my initial response, then remembered that some people simply don’t feel comfortable in an urban environment. Meanwhile, Margie discourages visitors who have a limited amount of time in Paris from spending one full day outside the city at Versailles or Giverny in lieu of the zillions of attractions one can take in within the “périphérique.” She jokingly told me, “They can buy a beautiful book of photos and enjoy those sights without having to leave Paris!”
She’s as addicted to Paris as one can get, although she’s not yet a full-time resident. Nevertheless, Margie knows a lot more about the detailed secrets of Paris than I do and can put together an itinerary for visitors of every level that will enlighten even the most jaded tourists.
Last night she was conjuring up a way to get into the Agoudas Hakehilos Synagogue on rue Pavée for Rosh Hashanah services in spite of her all-pants wardrobe. It’s not only a great way to celebrate the Jewish holiday, but to see its interior and learn more about this Hector Guimard designed 100 year-old edifice. (Interesting fact: On the evening of Yom Kippur in 1941, the building was dynamited along with six other Parisian synagogues.)
We fantasized about how she could dress to look like an orthodox Jewish French woman from the neighborhood with a “babushka” and baggy black pants to disguise her chic Parisian-San Diegan look. Naw…isn’t going to work this time around!
Note: You can find Margie on Facebook, too. As it happens, I was the 100th person to “Like” the page.
Shana Tova (Happy New Year).
A la prochaine…
Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC
(photo by MICHAEL HONEGGER)
P.S. Eating well and affordably is just as important a part of travel as is where you stay. If you’re travels this fall bring you to Paris, you’ll want to arm yourself with the Adrian Leeds Top 100 Cheap Insider Paris Resturants, available from Amazon .com. Get your copy today!
P.P.S. See you next Tuesday, September 10th at La Rentrée’s next “Parler Paris Après Midi!” from 3 to 5 p.m. at La Pierre du Marais — Antonio Meza will be talking about “Smart Skills for Success” — a coaching and training methodology for you to design a life plan that is congruent with your values, have a strategy, overcome obstacles and celebrate success. Don’t miss it! It’s free and it’s fun!