Why Americans travel to Europe for what?

Why Americans travel to Europe for what?

Americans go to London for social triumph, to Rome for art’s sake, and to Berlin to study music and to economize; but they go to Paris to enjoy themselves. And there are no young men of any nation who enter into the accomplishment of this so heartily and so completely as does the young American.

Paris determined to see all that any one else has ever seen, and to outdo all that any one else has ever done, and to stir that city to its suburbs. He saves his time, his money, and his superfluous energy for this visit, and the most amusing part of it is that he always leaves Paris fully assured that he has enjoyed himself while there more thoroughly than any one else has ever done, and that the city will require two or three months’ rest before it can read just itself after the shock and wonder due to his meteoric flight through its limits. Paris, he tells you, ecstatically, when he meets you on the boulevards is “the greatest place on earth,” and he adds, as evidence of the truth of this, that he has not slept in three weeks. He is unsurpassed in his omnivorous capacity for sight-seeing, and in his ability to make himself immediately and contentedly at home.

The American visitor is not only undaunted by the strange language, but unimpressed by the signs of years of vivid history about him. He sandwiches a glimpse at the tomb of Napoleon, and a trip on a penny steamer up the Seine, and back again to the Morgue, with a rush through the Cathedral of Notre Dame, between the hours of his breakfast and the race-meeting at Longchamps the same afternoon. Nothing of present interest escapes him, and nothing bores him. He assimilates and grasps the method of Parisian existence with a rapidity that leaves you wondering in the rear, and at the end of a week can tell you that you should go to one side of the Grand Hôtel for cigars, and to the other to have your hat blocked. He knows at what hour Yvette Guilbert comes on at the Ambassadeurs’, and on which mornings of the week the flower-market is held around the Madeleine.

While you are still hunting for apartments he has visited the sewers under the earth, and the Eiffel Tower over the earth, and eaten his dinner in a tree at Robinson’s, and driven a coach to Versailles over the same road upon which the mob tramped to bring Marie Antoinette back to Paris, without being the least impressed by the contrast which this offers to his own progress. He develops also a daring and reckless spirit of adventure, which would never have found vent in his native city or town, or in any other foreign city or town. It is in the air, and he enters into the childish goodnature of the place and of the people after the same mariner that the head of a family grows young again at his class reunion.

The Château Rouge was originally the house of some stately family in the time of Louis XIV. They will tell you there that it was one of the mistresses of this monarch who occupied it, and will point to the frescos of one room to show how magnificent her abode then was. This tradition may or may not be true, but it adds an interest to the house, and furnishes the dramatic contrast to its present wretchedness.

The Supremacy of Paris

The Supremacy of Paris

One of the most distinctive features of France is the great importance of Paris in the life of the country as a whole. The location of Paris is almost ideal. Orleans alone among the cities is more central, but it lacks the waterways of Paris and the surrounding fertile soil.

Located originally on an island where it is easy to cross the Seine River, Paris has become not only the capital of France, but also one of the world’s greatest cities. The term “greatest” applies not so much to the number of inhabitants as to cultural influence. In this respect no other city rises to such a level, and no other city attracts so many visitors, temporary as well as permanent, to enjoy that culture.

Paris exerts an almost mystical attraction not only on Europe but on the rest of the world as well. Its architecture may be rather oldfashioned, its general appearance far from clean, and its entertainments not always of the highest, but the visitor forgets all this.

The Supremacy of Paris

The wide tree-bordered boulevards with their sidewalk cafes, the crooked streets of the Montmarte, and the Latin Quarter, where little shops offer all sorts of products from paintings to bad-smelling cheese, the quiet border of the Seine River where open-air bookstalls invite the literary enthusiast, the public gardens and parks where children, guarded by uniformed nurses, sail tiny boats on the grass-bordered ponds, all this is the Paris which one learns to love.

Nevertheless, the educational, social, and political attraction of Paris has been a tremendous drain on the rest of France. No other city has had a chance to become even locally a cultural center. Today, as for many centuries, Paris is the focus of all ambitions, the magnet attracting the country’s brains and energy.

The Business of Travel

The Business of Travel

Americans of today have become the world’s wanderers. The character depicted in Sue’s great novel has its modern counterpart, not only throughout the United States, but all over the globe, with baggage marked “From America,” and destination everywhere. Another human wave flows from city to sea and mountain with the approach of summer, and crowds every outgoing ship bound for the Old World. This national restlessness has aided in coining such words as “commuter” and “suburbanite,” for the daily movement in and out of the great cities of the country is partly the result of the desire “to go somewhere.”

The passing of the multitude to and fro has created the business of travel and developed it into a mechanism which is wonderful in its movements, considering the comparatively short period of its existence. It devises ways and means for all classes and to suit all purses. By it the wealthy man secures his private car, in which to flee from the grasp of the frost king to the shade of palmetto and pine. It provides the clerk with his half seat in the common coach, or conducts the hundred or thousand in the excursion party through the highway of Europe, or around the world. In 1841 that 600 people were taken from Leicester to Loughborough on the first excursion train on record.

It is worth while to turn a few pages of British history, for here originated the system that has since spread throughout the New World as well as the Old. Until the printer, Cook, took his townsfolk to the Father Matthew meeting at Loughborough the excursion train was unknown. The talk it created set people to thinking, and from this obscure village developed the idea of modern travel. Up to that time intercourse between the countries of the Kingdom was confined principally to visits among one’s relatives, the trips of the commercial agents and government representatives.

The Business of Travel

The railroads terminated south of the Scotch borderland; the traveler to the North Country had his choice of stage coach or steamer from the end of the track. To the average Englishman, both Scotland and Wales were almost unknown countries. Popular travel produced a revolution which converted Highland and Lowland alike into a summer holiday encampment for the people of the middle and southern England. It built hotels on hillside and in valley, and bordered the seacoast with season resorts.

The throng of pleasure-seekers spread throughout North Wales as well, and even into Ireland. In spite of the present attraction of English tourists to the Continent and the United States, it is estimated that the yearly “bank holidays” find 200,000 Londoners alone transferring their homes temporarily to the Land of Burns and the Bard of Snowden.

The few miles across the English Channel, until 1856, had barred all but the nobility and wealthier British people from visiting the Continent for pleasure, and the comparative few who ventured through northern or southern Europe were considered by the hotelkeepers as their legitimate prey, and compelled to pay exorbitant prices in city and hamlet alike; perhaps mine host had in mind traditions of former days when the earl or duke, with his retinue, rode from town to town demanding the best the inn afforded, and expecting nothing out of the purse of gold thrown down in payment. But with the advent of the tourist agent came a change which benefited host and guest alike, for what was lost in the reduction of charges was made up in the increased patronage.

Another exposition—that in Paris in 1867—caused the tour promoters of the Old World to think of crossing the Atlantic. A few trips to such resorts as Niagara and Saratoga had been arranged by Americans, but the business of travel, as conducted abroad, was practically unknown.

Less than a thousand people went to the other side as a result of the reduced steamship rates and other inducements; but those who attended the great fair returned to become personal advertisements of the modern idea. The average American who had gone abroad previously was possessed of a bank account which could withstand the heavy inroads of the foreign landlords; but few cared to repeat a journey which was attended with such discomfort. Thanks to the tourist agent, the visitors to Paris were relieved of much of the trouble with which those who had gone before them were afflicted.

The fortunate combination of scenery and history possessed by the Old World has always been enticing, and the public was ready to welcome any assistance in smoothing the way to reach it. Consequently it is not strange that each year, with a few exceptions, since the sixties has witnessed a steadily increasing exodus to the other side, and the trip to Europe, once considered the epoch of a lifetime, has become an ordinary event—to be regarded of as little moment as the journey between city and city.

The modern system of travel has planned its every detail with admirable nicety. Enter one of the offices to be found in the important cities, and tell the man behind the desk of your proposed journey. In exchange for the check or bank bills, he gives you a piece of pasteboard which will carry you by railroad and steamer to every city in the civilized world, if you so desire. Another package of pasteboard slips pays for food and shelter wherever you may desire it, in the heart of London or on the shore of the Nile. Europe or around the world, as you choose.

If one wants a special car in which to cross the continent, over the wires goes a message, and in an hour it may be linked to a train on its way to meet the tourist, or bearing him on his journey, provided with chef and porter, supplied with food and bedding— turned into a traveling home, in which he can live a week or month, as his purse allows. At a day’s notice a special train can be provided—a hotel on wheels with its bedrooms, library, dining-room, boudoir, and even barber shop. And in the same office where the millionaire engages his “special” the clerk with his month’s vacation secures his bunk or railroad excursion ticket, and pays for his daily meals and lodging.

The modern agency for our pleasure is ubiquitous in every sense of the word. It has developed into an encyclopedia of geography and history so complete that any of its representatives can not only give the location of a particular point of interest, but advise the best land and sea routes to be taken to reach it, and the hour of arrival and departure of train or steamer. The upto-date agency has men, who speak every modern language, stationed in all the important foreign communities to answer inquiries as well as to sell tickets.

At these offices the stranger can write and mail his letters, have his mail forwarded to him, obtain information as to the best hotels, be directed to the most reliable shops, have his money and jewelry cared for while in the city, and perhaps get a glance at the home newspapers. After a few weeks abroad he soon comes to look upon these agencies as links which connect him with the far away home land, and he notes their signs with a feeling of gratitude—here is something which is not entirely foreign.

In some countries where the native hotels are not satisfactory the tourist company has built hostelries of its own. Banking departments, where the American dollar or the English pound can be exchanged Euro, form another branch of the business that is welcomed, as is shown by the report of one concern which in a year changed half a million in American cash for its patrons.

The machinery of travel, too, has smoothed the path of the modern wanderer in more than one sense. It has built ways of stone and steel to enable him to reach some attraction of nature hitherto almost inaccessible The cable car with its uniformed conductors ascends the lava-lined sides of Vesuvius, and you can dine at a restaurant nearly on the brink of the smoking crater.

The hum of the trolley is heard among the palms of Egypt, in sight of the tombs of the Pharaohs. The visitor in New England fans himself in the summer heat at the foot of Mount Washington, and a half hour later buttons his overcoat around his throat as he alights from the car in the region of winter on its summit. The “cog-wheel” route up Pike’s Peak has divested it of some of its fascination—for danger is often tempting—but it is far more comfortable to rise above the clouds seated in a cushioned chair than plod along the rocky road, the day’s journey required, afoot or ahorse.

Traversing a part of Florida is a railroad originally called the “Millionaire Line,” because a millionaire constructed it, and men of millions reached the American Riviera by it. Five hundred miles in length, it was built solely in the interest of the tourist at a cost of over five millions of dollars. But its promoter had the satisfaction of knowing that it revolutionized the mode of reaching the land beyond the frost line and acquainted the American people with a region which before had been almost as unknown as the wilds of Africa. The company’s yearly earnings prove that its enterprise was not unprofitable, for it has gradually changed into a highway, for the masses as well as the classes.

Nature’s attractions as an inducement to the seeker for variety. With the beginning of each season those remarkable people, the modern passenger agents—vie with each other in the production of pamphlets, even books of generous size, profusely illustrated in various colors. Ten thousand, perhaps a hundred thousand, of a single issue may be scattered over the country in the time-table racks. The preparation of railroad and steamboat literature has become an important part of the machinery of the passenger department—principally to secure the interest of the tourist.

But remarkable as has been the activity of railroad managers in the promotion of the tourist movement, the gaze must be turned seaward to fully appreciate its present dimensions. In a single month of spring or early summer fifty steamships leave New York alone. On a Saturday, a procession of ten great liners may be seen wending their way through “The Narrows.” As the purser records tickets from “upper deck” to steerage, he expects to find at least ninetenths having tourist transportation; for the Italian fruit vendor, who has saved enough to visit the old home once more, realizes the advantages of the system as well as the banker who engages his suite of cabins.

The tourist agent and the transportation company have provided all of these facilities naturally for their own profit, but in so doing they have been benefactors. The opportunity for education by travel has been placed within reach of a multitude of Anglo-Saxons who could not avail themselves of it otherwise. The Briton has gained knowledge of America and Americans, and the American has gained a knowledge of Great Britain and the Britons which could not be obtained in a life-time study of history.

The personal contact with not only the people but the manners and customs of the Old World has broadened the tourist from this side to a deeper appreciation of his own land. He has also acquired a fund of information not to be found within the book covers, which is beyond price, for the eye and ear note a thousand sights and sounds daily, which combine to make a most valuable history.

Place de l’Odeon, Paris

Place de l’Odeon, Paris

As our last Left Bank hotel area, we’ve chosen a locale for older readers who’d like to be near the excitement of the Left Bank, but who wish to stay in quiet and relatively dignified surroundings. That prescription is filled by the stately Odeon, a square dominated by the marble Theatre de France, which is one of the three state-run theatres in Paris. Only three blocks away is the Boulevard St. Michel; but here it’s a different world.

On one side of the square, the Michelet Odeon, 6 Place Odeon, is a beautiful budget hotel, service and tax included. On the streets that run off from Odeon, several other fine hotels include the Hotel Racine, at 23 Rue Racine, wiht prices similar to those of the Michelet, and with especially posh rooms with private bath, breakfast included.

There are red carpets on the stairs and a bust of Racine in the lobby. The cheaper hotels are on the Rue Casimir Delavigne, where three low cost choices, all close to square, are excellent for older tourists: the Hotel des Balcons, 3 Rue Casimir-Delavigne, the excitingly low-cost and highly recommended Hotel Delavigne, 1 Rue Casimir Delavigne; and Hotel St. Sulpice, 7 Rue Casimir-Delavigne. The metro stop for all three choices is, of course, Odeon.

The Luxembourg Gardens, Paris

The Luxembourg Gardens, Paris

For families traveling with children, the top hotel section in Paris is just below the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens (still on the Left Bank), where there are enclosed playing areas, with attendants, and an atmosphere of peace and charm. And on a quiet street called Rue Madame, which runs just parallel to the gardens, there are three superb budget hotels to which families have flocked for many years, with good results.

I’d rate them in the following order: first, Regent’s Hotel at 44 Rue Madame, in a completely new building, modern and sparkling clean, and with elevator; and then, further up the block, the older Hotel de l’Avenir at 65 Rue Madame (it also has an elevator), and the Hotel Perreyve, 63 Rue Madame. The latter two are only 50 yards from an entrance gate to the lovely gardens. At Regent’s, two breakfasts included; at the l’Avenir, quite elegant, turn-of-the-century-Perreyve!

Finally, this area possesses one of the best pensions in Paristhe “Orfila”-a big place (the deceptively small main building actually extends into other buildings), which stands at an intersection where the Rue Madame meets the Rue d’Assas, at 60 Rue d’Assas, a minute’s walk from the gardens. This is an old and quite quaint Parisian building in the center of a nice neighborhood, well-maintained inside, and with a pleasant proprietress.

To reach any hotel in this area, take the metro to the St. Sulpice stop. You’ll find that you’re only a short walk away from the bustling St. Germain des Pres, and yet in a calm residential section.

St. Germain des Pres Budget Hotels

St. Germain des Pres Budget Hotels

Although the Sorbonne area has more budget hotels than any other district in Paris (and thus provides you with the optimum chance of finding a budget room in the summer months), nevertheless, the district can’t compare in color and charm with the bustling area around the Ecole des Beaux Arts, near the Seine.

How would you now like to live la vie Baherne, and plunge into a world of art galleries and studios, palettes and beards? Walk down the Boulevard St. Germain to the breathtakingly-beautiful Eglise (church) St. Germain des Pres, and turn right on the Rue Banaparte, to the Seine. As you approach the river, you’ll pass the Rue Jacob. And if you turn right on the Rue Jacob, you’ll come to the Rue de Seine. These are the three blocks for budget hotels in this area: the Rue Bonaparte, the Rue Jacob, and the Rue de Seine. The metro stop for all three is called: St. Germain.

Five hotels on these blocks offer especial values. On the Rue Jacob, the Hotel des 2 Continents, at No. 25, is an unusually appealing, sunny place, taxes and service included; and a few feet away, the Hotel d’Isly, at No. 29, is slightly higher in price, but much better appointed, with an elevator and newly-redecorated rooms. On the Rue Bonaparte, the Hotel St. Germain des Pres , a moderate, two-star hotel, has the best location of all, just a few short steps from the Boulevard St. Germain….

On the Rue de Seine, at No. 52, the Hotel de Seine (14), has “grand lit” (double beds), twin beds, an elevator, and is just as highly recommended…. Nearby, on the Rue des Beaux Arts, which is lined with high-priced art galleries where you ought to browse but not buy, the Hotel d’Alsace, 13 Rue des Beaux Arts, is the place to which Oscar Wilde was exiled af ter his release from Reading Gaol. lt’s a quiet, peaceful hotel, with a deep, sunny stairwell running through its six stories. The Hotel de Nice on the same block is quite elegant, but too high in price.

Several other hotels in this area are almost equally as good. On the Rue Jacob, for instance, you’ll also find the elevator-equipped Hotel du Danube, 58 Rue Jacob (including breakfast, service and taxes for two) and the Hotel de Tours, 15 Rue Jacob (everything included), both in the direction of the post office as you look left, facing the street.

On the Rue de Seine, no more than 10 feet from the Boulevard St. Germain, you’ll pass the Hotel Welcome, 66 Rue de Seine, which is marvelous for younger people, wıth same rooms overlooking the Boulevard St. Germain itself, and with rates, for perfectly proper doubles. On the Rue Banaparte, only 20 yards from the Seine, the Hotel de Londres & Malaquais, 3 Rue Banaparte, is one of the better third class hotels in the area, quiet and nicely-furnished with service and taxes included.

Again on the Rue Bonaparte, but this time on the other side of Boulevard St. Germain, you’ll find the Hotel St. George, at 49 Rue Banaparte, and the Hotel Nancy, across the street at 56 Rue Bonaparte. The Nancy is nicest, breakfast included, and is highly recommended. The St. George is about as typically French as a French hotel can get: narrow, winding hallways; a red-geranium lined walkway over a patio; and attractive, buxom maids; they don’t speak English here, but you’ll get along perfectly well with sign language….

Finally, just down the street at 61 Rue Banaparte, the Hotel Bonaparte, is a turn-of-the-century-type establishment, with elegance, chic, and enormous rooms, breakfasts included. Many ladies stay here and love it; don’t be discouraged by the small and incongruous service station on one side of the street-around the corner is a lovely little square. How would I rate this confusing batch of choices? In the “higher-priced” category, the Hotel St. Germain des Pres is by far the best, followed closely by the Hotel Bonaparte, Hotel de Seine and the Hotel Alsace.

In the moderate range, the Hotel du Danube and the Hotel de Londres & Malaquais seem best to me, followed by the Hotel d’Isly and the Hotel de 2 Continents. In the rockbottom category, the Hotel Welcome and the Hotel de Tours are your best bets. if all these hotels are filled, then walk down the Boulevard St. Germain (or the parallel Rue Jacob) to the Rue Saint Peres, where a long-time favorite of students, the well-appointed Hotel de l’Academie, at #32 Rue Saint Peres, has good double rooms and its own little restaurant off the lobby. Throughout this section, inexpensive restaurants abound, and there are markets, cafes, theatres-much life. Jean-Paul Sartre lives one black from the St. Germain metro stop.

The Pantheon, Paris Budget Hotels

The Pantheon, Paris Budget Hotels

If you’d like to live cheaper (or if the hotels on Rue des Ecoles are packed), then keep walking up the Boulevard St. Michel for two more blocks until you hit the Rue Souffiot, and again turn left. 100 yards ahead stands the Pantheon, a shrine to France’s most illustrious public figures (entombed here are Voltaire, Rousseau, Zola, Victor Hugo, among others). At the right of the Pantheon are two long-established budget hotels, the Hotel des Grands Hommes, 17 Place du Pantheon, and the Hotel du Pantheon, 19 Place du PantMon, both with plenty of singles for less.

The Grands Hommes’ location and view remain spectacular. But the Pantheon is quite suitable, and a third hotel-the University Hotel, at 160 Rue St. Jacques, just a few feet from the Rue Souffiot -is not only on a par with the Pantheon, but offers twin-bedded rooms. All three hotels are mainly recommended for young tourists, who will be excited by the flavor of this central university quarter.

The Sorbonne Area Budget Hotels

The Sorbonne Area Budget Hotels

Take the “metro” (Paris’ subway system) to the St. Michel station. Go up the steps and you’re on the Boulevard St. Michel-heart of Paris’ university area. The Sorbonne and the Ecole des Beaux Arts are all within walking distance. The Boulevard St. Michel, itself, is a broad avenue lined with bookstores and sidewalk cafes. Walk up the Boulevard as it goes up hill. Three blocks along, you’ll find the Rue des Ecoles. Turn left. This, to me, is one of the great hotel streets of Paris. If has some of the cleanest and most comfortable budget accommodations in the city.

The very best budget hotel on the street (although it’s also by far the most expensive) is the Hotel Claude Bernard, at 43 Rue des Ecoles, which offers neatly-arranged singles, numerous beautiful double rooms (prices include breakfast, taxes and all service charges).  Often, the Claude Bernard charges less for rooms on its top floor (“au sixieme etage”), yet here, you’ll have tall French windows, which open onto a small balcony, and provide a view of the entire Latin Quarter. Primarily, the hotel is typically French and family-run; sneak a look behind the counter, and you’ll see a living room where the owners dine at night.

‘Directly across the street from the Claude Bernard, the big Hotel California, at 32 Rue des Ecoles, with breakfasts, taxes and service charge included. Next door to the Claude Bernard, the Hotel St. Jacques, 35 Rue des Ecoles, is, to me, an equally attractive hotel. The St. Jacques offers twin-bedded rooms without bath, but with breakfast, taxes and service included. Try it, and you’ll join the ranks of those who think Paris is an exceptionally cheap city in which to live. Similar prices are charged by the Hotel des Carmes, a block away at 5 Rue des Carmes, which is now under the same management as the St. Jacques, and probably maintains the former’s standards.

As you continue walking down the Rue des Ecoles, you’ll pass many other hotels with prices in the St. Jacque’s range-and lower. The Grand Hotel Moderne, for instance, at 33 Rue des Ecoles, taxes and service included, while the Hotel d’Orleans, 31 Rue des Ecoles, goes down for a double bed, for twin beds, for three persons in a room, all taxes and service included.

Both hotels have courtly old Frenchmen as proprietors, who’ll treat you with great dignity; but the Moderne is not nearly as good a hotel as the others on this block. In the better Hotel d’Orleans, you’ll have breakfast each morning in the combination living room-dining room hotel office. Next door, at 29 Rue des Ecoles, the lobby of the Hotel des Nations has  the rooms are clean, and some of them are newly and brightly furnished. Breakfast and all else included.

A few steps on, you’ll pass the Rue de la Montagne, which leads uphill, in about a hundred yards, to a truly medieval section of Paris that remains, even today, a quarter for impoverished writers and artists-the poet Verlaine wrote his famous “Il pleure dans mon coeur…” in one of these very buildings. But keep walking along the Rue des Ecoles.

In another twenty yards, you’ll pass, on the left, the tiny Rue des Bernardins. Ifs here that the linguistic M. Rene Corre was forced to transfer his Hotel du Square Monge. The new hotel, at #42 on the street, is called the Hotel du Square Monge et Bernardin. They are perhaps too small for families, but they are utterly clean and well-maintained, they contain bidets and outlets for both American and European electric razors (a touch of thoughtfulness you’ll appreciate when you travel through other towns), all service and taxes included (breakfast is available, but it is not required that you take it in the hotel).

The hotel receives the same high recommendation that M. Corre has had in the past. Across the Rue des Ecoles from the Hotel Square Monge Bernardins, the almost-as-good Hotel Plaisant, at 50 Rue des Bernardins, continues to charge an astounding. It has nice proprietors, and perfectly acceptable rooms, some with balconies that look onto a little square…. if you ‘re willing to walk farther down the Rue des Ecoles, you’ll come to the somewhat basic, but friendly, Hotel Minerve, 13 Rue des Ecoles, and next door, the Hotel Familia (a good choice), but by this point, you’ll probably feel that you’re too far from the exciting Boulevard St. Michel.