France is getting ready to elect a new leader. Emmanuel Macron and Marine LePen are vying for the job in a run-off election set for May 7. The election happens at a pivotal moment for the European Union, with Britain’s exit looming, and nationalist sentiment growing in various member states.
While Americans are watching the French elections unfold from across the Atlantic, KNKX travel expert Matthew Brumley finds himself in Paris this week.
“There hasn’t been a huge surprise here. Everyone expected Macron and LePen to be in the final round. But everyone I speak to says there’s absolutely no way LePen is going to make it to the finish line.”
That said, Paris is not LePen’s stronghold. Brumley says asking Parisians whether LePen has a chance can be a lot like asking whether people in Seattle last fall were optimistic about Donald Trump.
The election is happening after a shooting on the Champs Elysees – one of the most popular areas for tourists in the French capital. But if there are security enhancements in place, Brumley – who has been traveling to France for decades – doesn’t see them.
“I’m sitting in a café on the Bastille, across from the Modern Opera House, having a beer … and I don’t see a single person in uniform,” he said. “Certainly in front of the Louvre, the Musee Dorsee, the Champs Elysees, you’ll see some uniforms. But the cafes are full. It’s April in Paris.”
Beyond The Sights
First-time visitors to Paris will, of course, want to see the big attractions – the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Notre Dame, for example. Brumley’s seen those, so now, he explores neighborhoods.
The night before we spoke, he had been out at an open mic night that turned into an open mic morning.
“We were listening to different French groups come in and sing, mostly American classics from the 1930s and '40s,” he said. “It was really a beautiful evening and I kept thinking, all evening, ‘Oh, I’ve got to get home,’ and the next thing would happen. People were dancing, my wife was singing. It was so much fun.”
He says that kind of fun is accessible to anyone who’s willing to wander a little in the City of Lights.
Actually Getting There
Airfare, Brumley says, will run you between $800 and $1,200 from Seattle. In the off-season, you might find cheaper fares.
Airbnb rentals, which is how Brumley and his wife are traveling, will run between $80 and $140 a night for a one-bedroom apartment.
And dining out in Paris is comparable to the prices you’d find in Seattle.
“And don’t forget,” Brumley said, “You have to eat in Seattle anyway, so why not do it in Paris?”
"Going Places" is 88.5's weekly exploration of travel. Our travel expert, Matthew Brumley, is co-founder of Earthbound Expeditions on Bainbridge Island, which provides small group travel to clients including KNKX. Never miss an episode again. Subscribe to Going Places with iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher.