Why I never stick pins in maps
As one would expect as a travel blogging person I do get asked a lot about where people should go.
I’m always delighted to talk about it with just about anyone, but I have two rules: If their personal hygiene is poor, I run a mile; and if the person in front of me dismisses a place because they’ve been before, I cut off the conversation pronto.
It’s a response that tells me this person is probably not a true traveller. They are just ticking boxes so that they can stick pins in their map on the wall at home. That’s not a problem, lots of people like to do that, but it’s not a mind-set I could ever get down with. I will never dismiss a place because I’ve been once before. A pin in a map suggests a place is done. I don’t think a place is ever done!
As regular readers will know, I live in London. This city surprises me all the time with the constant flow of new things – restaurants, markets, shows, exhibitions. It’s hard to keep up! So if someone said to me they didn’t want to visit London again because they spent a long weekend here in 1999, I’d think they were less than smart, to put it nicely.
This weekend, someone did say something like that to me, but not about my darling London. It was about Paris, glorious Paris! For Londoners, the city of lights is just a short train ride away, so it’s like our spiritual sister city. Like a sibling, I’m protective of my Paris.
This person went to Paris 7 years ago, walked along the Champs Elysee, explored the Louvre, climbed the Eiffel Tower and strolled along the Seine. Amazing. What wonderful things to do. But if Paris were a present this person has barely untied the bow.
In an attempt to persuade anyone reading this who has decided to never go to Paris again purely because they’ve been before, I’ve come up with five things to do that you probably didn’t know you could!
- Pop into Les Jardins de la Villa hotel to look at their original works of art and relax in its landscaped courtyard while enjoying a drink from the honesty bar. With an emphasis on Parisian couture throughout, the hotel blends modern design with Parisian chic. Look out for the drawings by Hoppolyte Romain and the giant black sofa in the shape of a high heeled shoe in the lobby.
- La Promenade Plantée or The Green Walkway for non French speakers is a three mile elevated green space built on an abandoned railway line. It’s a great place for a run as the path is rich with trees and shrubs. Or if you enjoy picnics you can stroll along it until you reach Jardin De Reuilly, which is a hidden garden in the middle of the city.
- For regular travellers, cemeteries are a huge draw in places such as Havana in Cuba, and Buenos Aires in Argentina. On the list of incredible cemeteries to visit is the Pere Lachaise Cemetery. With cobbled walkways and incredible trees, it’s a beautiful spot featuring the graves of Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde.
- Once a week the Paris Flower Market (which is a must visit in itself) becomes an incredible bird market. Almost every bird imaginable is on sale here from parakeets to chickens. The containers the birds are kept in are almost as astonishing as the birds with a huge array of cages. It’s a fascinating spectacle and as one would expect from a market there’s great food to be had too.
- American readers might be particularly surprised to learn that the oldest basketball court in the world is in a basement in Paris. The sport was invented in a Massachusetts YMCA but one of the sports teachers moved to Paris and created a court using a pair of fruit baskets. The Paris YMCA court is still in use today although there are actual hoops in place now.
There are so many more things to do and see but I’ve run out of time! I’ll leave you with a plea… if you are going to put pins in maps then make sure they have three little letters on them… TBC.