Just Choose A Direction (Why Paris Is The Most Visited City On Earth)
Paris is possibility. All the best of what all the world has to offer is all here and always available, meaning that, any time of the day or night, you could pursue any experience. If you can imagine it, you can have it. All you have to do is walk out your front door and choose a direction.
That’s what Paris means for many, including the nearly 30 million who visit each year. This city sees more tourists than any other and more all the time.
“Our business fell off for a few years,” explained a friend who leads walking tours of the city. “Everybody’s did,” Emanuela continued. “But it has come back. For the past couple of years, we’ve been busy, mostly with British groups, but this year, finally, we’re seeing Americans again.”We’re in the off-season, but everywhere we’ve been, both in Paris and elsewhere in France, has been lively. We visited Galeries Lafayette yesterday for a birthday shopping spree with Jackson (who turns 14 later this month) and had to push our way through crowds on the street and inside the mammoth department store. Early Christmas shoppers, I guess.
Paris is dressing herself for the season. White lights are being strung in the trees that line Boulevard St. Germain, as they are each year this time, and all the windows at Galeries Lafayette are covered with shades indicating that the holiday displays are currently works in progress and will be revealed soon. Viewing stands have been erected all around the store so that those passing by for the purpose of enjoying the Christmas window scenes will be able to do so without impeding sidewalk traffic.
Paris follows regular cycles. July and August are summer travel, when all the city decamps for the south of France or beyond. September is le rentree, the return to school and work. Then come Halloween and Toussaint…followed by, now, the Christmas season…which leads into the New Year…and on and on, reliably, without fail.
“It’s all the same,” Jackson remarked last weekend as we drove into and through the city to the apartment where we’re staying. “The shops, the restaurants, the bakeries, the stalls along the river…it’s all just like it was when we were living here. I like that, don’t you, Mom?” he asked.
Yes, I do.
We moved from Paris to Panama City five years ago to start the Live and Invest Overseas business. Panama City is the best place on earth right now to pursue the kind of business agenda we’re currently pursuing. Panama City is also an exciting place to be, a city at one of the most interesting turning points in its history, a landscape reshaping itself, and a market repositioning itself before our eyes, changing noticeably every day. Go away for a month, and the Panama City you return to will be unrecognizable in some ways from the one you left.
The opposite of Paris.
“You’ve slotted yourselves right back in, haven’t you?” Emanuela said when we saw her last night. Jack had spent the day playing soccer in the park with a former classmate. Lief and I had had a business lunch and have other business meetings scheduled through the week. Lief, Jackson, and I were having dinner in our favorite neighborhood pizzeria with Emanuela and her two children, making plans for Jackson to help Emanuela’s daughter Emma with her English homework.
Every morning, Jackson dresses and walks down the street to the boulangerie for croissants and pains aux chocolats. Meantime, Lief and I power up our laptops. We enjoy the pastries that Jackson provides while responding to e-mails and writing the day’s dispatches. We work until midday, when the three of us venture out together for lunch, choosing to seek out a restaurant in a different direction each day.
In Panama, we delight in the excitement that change brings; here we’re savoring delightful habit. Lief and I appreciate contrast, so this situation suits us well.
So well that we’re looking to make it more regular. One agenda of this Paris visit is to shop for a small apartment that could serve as Live and Invest Overseas’ new Euro-base. We’re reconnecting with old contacts and making new ones with the intention of being able to cover this part of the world (not only France, but Europe in general) more reliably. Being more on the ground on this side of the Pond will facilitate that objective.
French interest rates remain low, and the market is soft, meaning this is a good time to be shopping. We’ve made a list of purchase criteria and are meeting tomorrow with a real estate agent we’ve worked with in the past. Lief will update his Marketwatch members in greater detail.
Continue reading: Retiring Overseas In Series