I am deep into a book about 19th-century Americans in Paris and beyond—The Greater Journey, by David McCullough—that is, in many ways, a celebration of the powerful and enduring attractions of Europe. Before transatlantic steamship voyages, determined travelers such as Samuel F. B. Morse, the painter and inventor of Morse code; Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., the poet and doctor; and the renowned writer James Fenimore Cooper weathered perilous Atlantic crossings to study at the feet of European masters in painting and sculpture, medicine, or simply the art of living. They dined in Paris’s elegant restaurants, ordered made-to-measure wardrobes in the latest styles of the day, attended balls and parties with the city’s beau monde, and carried home with them a higher appreciation for matters of refinement and taste.
In place of the salt cod with garlic at Les Trois Frères Provençaux or the prototypically French offerings of Lointier, on the Rue de Richelieu, some of Paris’s restaurants of the moment offer jewel-like presentations of fresh-from-the-farm provisions (I am thinking here of two reasonably new Paris spots I tried last fall: Spring and Agapé Substance, both of which I enthusiastically recommend). Despite transformations in style and content far beyond the ken of Morse and his friends, Americans still arrive in Paris seeking peerless experiences of food, fashion, and art.
This month in Travel + Leisure’s annual Europe issue, we spotlight “Affordable Small Hotels in Paris,” intimate hotel hideaways where guests can make themselves at home. Today’s travelers are beating their own paths: to Copenhagen for dining; to Italy’s Maremma region; and to the Mediterranean on a cruise retracing Odysseus’s route. In anticipation of the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations this summer (as well as the ongoing commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens), we offer our “Smart Guide to London,” and, ever mindful of present realities, we provide advice on how to find the best values in Europe this season.
As for my own upcoming travels: I’m also Europe-bound. You’ll find me hiking with my husband and friends in Switzerland’s Engadine—something that our 19th-century American forebears may well have done.
Where to Find Me
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