Hand me a map of Paris and I will often guide you to your exact destination, and only occasionally turn you in the wrong direction and send you miles away. Don’t hand me a map and the following happens.
My husband and I embarked on the Hemingway haunts walking tour as carefully laid out in Easy Hiker’s Hemingway’s Latin Quarter. Easy Hiker advises its readers to begin in a park at the end of the Île de la Cité, which is a natural island in the Seine and the center of the city.
Before leaving our hotel I found a reference in my guidebook to the original site of the best Paris ice creamery — Berthillon — also on this island. So we made a slight alteration in the official hike plans and decided to start from wherever we found two scoops.
We had no trouble getting to the island. It’s large. But the ice cream? I had forgotten the map. “Let’s try this street,” I said for no good reason, as I looked at the jumble of cafés, restaurants, shops and tourists around us.
We had walked a few yards when a young woman approached us. “I’m taking a survey. May I ask you a question.”
As I prepare to be distracted from my mission, which was now ice cream and not Hemingway or a survey, I look across the street. “There it is,” I shouted and we abandoned the surveyor for more important things.
Next planned stop: Shakespeare and Company Bookstore. We knew Hemingway didn’t borrow books from the store on the current site, because it existed somewhere else in the 1920’s, but it has such a wonderful ambiance and it does carry his books.
“Where do you think it is?” I asked.
“Across a bridge.” (As an aside, there are thirty-five pedestrian bridges in Paris.)
“The bridge with the memorable graffiti we used as a landmark when we were here last year?
“Yeah. I think so.”
Sadly, Buble But had disappeared since last fall, but we did eventually find the bookstore, and the neighborhoods we explored almost daily a year ago.
I pulled out my iPhone and clicked on Easy Hike and we started wandering.
“We know this street,” I said.
“Yeah and we know this one too. This is where we stopped to listen to a jazz band.”
“We passed this restaurant a dozen times.”
And so it went. The only important sites we’d missed before were the “Hemingway Slept Here” signs. Thanks to Easy Hiker, we spotted those and our tour was complete. (We skipped the Luxembourg Gardens — another part of the tour — because we walked through it every day)
“When we travel, we just walk around,” complained my husband afterwards.
Where did he get that idea?
We found Berthillon at the end of a long day walking from the Bastille area to the Eiffel Tower and back. The ice cream was good but not quite as good as its reputation. Walking around Paris, however, is one of the great joys of life.
Thank you. I enjoyed walking with you vicariously. Paris is a joy.