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Good morning from Paris, where the trip begins


We have landed in Le Marais, our neighborhood in Paris for the next week. It’s an Airbnb apartment three floors up from a street which, as I write this, it is bustling with people going to work, and opening their shops.


I love staying in big city hotels, where the lobbies and bars and coffee shops make you feel like a fancy traveler. But we’re after something both different and more affordable on this trip. Mary is sitting at our kitchen table going through emails over coffee, and I’m on the couch writing this. This is also the “full nest” portion of our empty nest trip, and both our children, along with our son’s girlfriend, are staying here with us, still asleep after a rich dinner and long walk last night. We have more traditional Paris vacation plans for later in the day.


We’ve already walked across the street to the boulangerie, where we picked up croissants, beignets, and coffee.


Kudos to Mary for finding this spot, a thriving neighborhood on the Rive Droit – the Right Bank – of the Seine. It’s a nice mix of youngish working people, cafes and shops that range from discount outlets for everyday items to fancier boutiques with an artsy flavor. The internet tells me this was once popular with artists. It was also one of Paris' Jewish enclaves, and saw some bad days during the Nazi occupation. It has become a center for Paris’ LGBTQ community.


The first thing one notices on the streets of Paris are the cafes, of course. Café culture is a real thing. Part of the vibe of the city is that one does not simply go from one place to another. One occasionally pauses, sits in a chair at a table, sips a coffee, or perhaps something stronger later in the day, and either watches the city go by or catches up for a moment with an old friend or two. It’s a nice way to live.


There are tourists, of course, though fewer here than a mile or so away near the river. I sat at a café downstairs from our apartment yesterday afternoon, fighting jet lag with an expresso, and observed a mixed crowd. Behind me was an American couple visiting with some Parisienne friends. At another table were two fashionable 20-something professionals, laughing over their glasses of beer. They both seemed to be cool and funny, which lead me to wonder if they were in the early, try-hard-to-be-cool-and-funny days of a relationship, or if they were simply cool and funny.


Coming from a city like Nashville, where if you rode your bike to work you’d be taking your life in your hands, it is nice to see a fully protected bike lane on the Rue de Turbigo, a major thoroughfare near us. As I observed the morning commute today, I saw more bikes than cars, with the cyclists running the gamut from the younger folks one expects to see, to well-dressed professionals closer to my age, in suits and nice dresses, happily peddling away.


I’ll try not to fall into the “everything is better here” narrative. But why fight it?




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Sounds like a lovely way to enjoy Paris!

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