Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wilder Words + Musings: On London and Paris and Eleven Years Later

The question is, was John Berger, an English painter, correct in his above assessment of these two great cities? I wouldn't be able to tell you unless I were to visit both places...and, since I AM LEAVING FOR LONDON AND PARIS TOMORROW (!!!!!), I will have soon have the answer!

I understand this trip might seem to be out of left field. I haven't talked about it much in the past few weeks, namely because it has seemed far too good to be true and because I didn't want to jinx it. However, I did mention it when I wrote that post back in January about the places I'd be going this year and included these pictures I drew (more after the jump):

Having crossed off New Orleans and New York (with a surprise trip to Antigua thrown in), the amazing spring of travel completes itself with my mother's birthday, celebrated in Europe. I can't believe that I've never been to London or to Paris; I kind of did Europe in reverse, with the somewhat more obscure places first. In college I spent a month in Greece, and prior to that I'd been to Switzerland, Germany, the French Alps, and Italy. I am so beyond thrilled to get to London and Paris, to stroll the streets, to see all of the art I've been intrigued by from afar and the places I've read about for years.

I am also, however, almost more excited to see the places in these cities that I don't even know exist; the nooks and crannies of alleys, the riverbanks with that one patch of grass I just have to sit in, the bookstores filled with musty bindings, and the open markets where I hope to find a thousand Beautiful Things of the Day. I want to wander the cities until my feet fall off, eat cheese, drink wine, and read and draw and just soak up the cities.

It's the a gift to be going with my mom, especially since exactly eleven years ago we spent a week in Venice together. She was writing her book about George Eliot, an brilliant novel called The World Before Her (which you should all read if you haven't already) and we went so she could research the portions that take place in Venice. We strolled around together, and she bought me my first pair of designer shoes; the most beautiful chartreuse Prada platforms you've ever seen. Extravagant for a twelve year old, I realize, but something about that city made nothing seem of consequence. And the exchange rate was still in our favor back then.

While last time we went together as mother and child, we are now going as fellow adults, as partners-in-crime. And I can't think of a better way to spend the birthday of the most important woman in my life than to wander the streets and hallways of two cities she loves so dearly.

Any suggestions for nooks and crannies to check out while I'm in London and Paris? Any great bakeries, bookstores, markets, cafes, sneaky museums, or great walks that I probably won't know about unless you told me? Tell me, please, in the comments!

Also, what books should I read while I'm there, assuming I have time? You know, like "this book changed my life and I read it in Paris" type of books. Books that I'll remember I read there. And love.


  1. OMG okay. well it isn't exactly off the beaten track, but you should definitely go to the hammam at the mosque when youre in paris ( and spend time with naked french women - you also feel so good afterwards. and if you don't have time to do the whole thing, even just getting a cup of tea is totally worth the visit, and the mosque itself is beautiful. also the louis vutton store on the champs elysees has a cool (free) museum up the top of various modern art, and once youre up there you can get a class view out the windows.

    in london, if youre in the british museum, i would highly suggest going to see the lothar crystal (, and then reading up the story behind it - its part of the best divorce scandal story EVER, let alone of the early medieval ages. (it is also located right next to a room which has a history of clocks and is great). and if youre around westminster and looking for somewhere delicious to eat after looking at how pretty parliament is, there is an amazinggg indian restaurant called the cinnamon club in the old westminster library, which is delicious and beautiful because it has kept the feel of the library and there are still loads of books lining the walls ( they also do yummy breakfast if you want to start there before exploring that area. and, if you do go there, stand outside and look to your right across great peter street where there will be a pret a manger, and the windows about that pret are where i interned last summer!

    and after youre done doing those things, i would get on a plane and come to dublin, because it is the best city in the world and puts london and paris to shame.

    have so much fun!

  2. EMMA!! you are just the absolute sweetest, I can't thank you enough for these suggestions. I suggest you meet me in London, how does that sound? ;) I can't wait to see you, whenever that may be, and in the meantime will try to visit all of these places you suggest. I'm intrigued by the Vuitton and the crystal...and the naked women and yummy indian breakfast. So, everything you mentioned. I also love libraries. Thank you, thank you, you are a rockstar. Let's talk soon, and properly, not via blog.

  3. Borough Market!! And St. Paul's Cathedral. Those are 2 of my favorites.


I'd love to hear from you. Just don't be mean.