This is the first in what I hope will become a series of travel blog posts, albeit infrequent. We are a global music show, so it only makes sense that we should travel the globe. The proof is in the pudding, right?
In any case, I want these posts to serve as some form of culture-focused travel guide. The way my wife and I like to travel is this: find the places we want to eat, fill in the rest. My posts will follow a similar template, in that I want to provide recommendations and tips that allow for some element of personalization and improvisation. I also want to tie it back to our radio show because, well, that’s the whole damn point right?
I’m fortunate enough to work for a company that, every year or so, goes on what we call a “Mystery Trip.” Ignite Social Media employees gather at the airport after receiving 3-5 clues and a packing list sufficient enough to prevent hypothermia. We then receive our destination. This year, we headed off to a nice long weekend in Paris, France. Throughout this blog, I’m going to refer to “we” as various coworkers, not one specific person. I just want to clarify so you don’t think I’m losing my mind.
I’m not big on doing the “touristy” thing. I prefer to try and embed myself into the local culture as much as possible. It’s hard, especially when you’re only in town for a few days. However, one thing I have found is going on a massive touristy blitz the first day (and only the first day) is a great way to check the boxes and, more importantly, get your bearings. By blitzing through, it can relieve a lot of pressure to SEE ALL THE THINGS for the rest of the trip and your adventures are not tied to SEEING ALL THE THINGS. Also, if your travel time is very long, there’s a good chance that you, like I, will be delirious the first day and riding around a hop-on/hop-off tour bus is the perfect combination of taking it easy and hardcore tourism blitz.
(PRO TIP: no matter how much you want to, stay up that entire first day. You’ll thank me later)
The French have a reputation of being a bit pretentious and rude to outsiders. I’m not going to lie, I did experience a little bit of that but I found it to be isolated to the touristy areas. It really wasn’t that bad, either (especially if you used something that resembles manners). But it was there.
However, once we wandered off to areas where there was a mix of locals and tourists, we ran into some of the nicest people I’ve ever encountered (in the world). Make that a boot in yer ass to get away from the Champs Elysees.
One of my favorite things to do was wander in a general direction. We picked a spot we wanted to go, I looked at the map on my phone and eyeballed the direction, checking in every 10 or so minutes to make sure we weren’t headed in the completely wrong direction. Doing so led us down some beautiful alleyways and into amazingly manicured parks that have existed for centuries where people go to picnic and make out. So French.
Our destinations were most frequently food and, on one occasion, a record store (more later).
The best damn crepes of my life. I’m actually glad I ate one of those street crepes near the Eiffel Tower. It was one of the best crepes I’ve ever had, but it was dirt in comparison to the majesty that is Breizh Café.
In the vein of “things I consumed in Paris that forever ruined that thing for me in the future,” I’m pretty sure I drank some of, if not, the best coffee in the world at Loustic. Run by an English native who has lived in Paris for 14 years or so and attracts a clientele of locals, ex-pats, and coffee tourists, Loustic will probably be the first place I go whenever I return to Paris. A random aside I picked up somewhere, maybe a Google review, apparently iced lattes are hard to find in Paris and Loustic is one of the few to actually make one. I had one. It was delicious. I think he makes them with maple syrup. Top-notch. The cappuccino is equally delicious and beautiful both to the eyes and the pallet. The beans come from Caffènation (Antwerp, Belgium) and, I believe, he’s the only client in Paris and compared the quality of those beans to local roasters Counter Culture (nice work on the global reputation, y’all!).
(PRO TIP: If you go to only one place in Paris, make it Loustic.)
Other culinary highlights included escargot and a chocolate mousse that made my soul cry for joy and my hours of walking absolutely necessary.
On recommendation, we journeyed to a wine bar called Ô Chateau which features wine tastings and flights. I opted for a flight of Bordeaux and a charcuterie plate. Did. Not. Disappoint.
If you take a more hedonistic approach to life and are, like I am, addicted to the liver of tortured goose, trying foie gras in France is a must. I ended up at this joint called Comptoir de la Gastronomie. Our waiter was probably one of the coolest people in Paris; a super fun dude who sent us further down our journey.
The climax of my quick trip to Paris occurred at Le Duc des Lombards, also known as “the best jazz club in Paris” according to our waiter at la Gastronomie. We missed the first two billed shows of the night, but at 11:45 pm a house band went on (free show – aww yiss) and somehow we scored seats right next to the drummer. The really cool thing about this show was, by the time we left at around 2:30 am, there was a completely different group of people on stage. Musicians would swap out as people, even musicians just passing through – several from New York, would just hop on stage and start playing.
(PRO TIP: Cocktails in France are not weak and watered down like they are in America. At least not at this jazz bar. Or maybe it was just the purse hooch generously shared by the woman from Martinique who sat next to us – and later got up to sing.)
(PRO TIP: Travel with Pedialyte powder. It’s great for travel-induced dehydration. And hangovers prevention. Or minimalization at least.)
Paul and I have been doing a lot of research for this show since we first started. In this research, we came across a record label, Born Bad. Born Bad also has a record store in Paris and, unintentionally, on Record Store Day I found myself there. I, in terrible French, told the guy working the counter that I speak terrible French which I hope was evident in how terribly I spoke said French. Anywho, I told him about this here radio show and asked for recommendations and boy did he deliver. Here is what I came away with (all links go to bandcamp/soundcloud so you can listen for yourself):
- Os Noctàmbulos – “I Cannot Read Your Mind“
- Police Control – “Question de Survie“
- Frustration – “Atour De Toi“
- The Cavaliers – “Dancing Party EP“
- The Chemist & The Acevities – “Sounds from chemistry town #4“
- The Staches – “Placid Faces“
- Qúetzal Snåkes – “II“
- The Madcaps – “Slow Down“
- Moonrite – “Moonrite“
- Pierre et Bastien – “Musique Grecque“
- V/A – “Hamburger Saignant II“
Somehow I managed to get these records safely home in my luggage. The last record on the list introduced us to Frantic City Records. If you want to hear some of these tracks, check out our most recent episode of Global Garage dedicated entirely to France (and a few surrounding countries) and curated by Frantic City.