I travel a lot. But it’s always for business. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of true “vacations” I’ve had in the past 10 or even 15 years. Now, that’s not to say I don’t enjoy traveling, or that I like being able to experience the sights, sounds, and people of different cities even if there’s work involved. But it’s quite the unusual experience for me to get on an airplane and go somewhere simply for the fun of it. But earlier this year my girlfriend Jessica suggested that it was time we went on a trip somewhere, perhaps over Thanksgiving. Why not. I figured I could use a break. “How about Paris?” I said.
Of course, having never been there before, we had to do all the “touristy” things–the Eiffel Tower, L’Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Couer–but we also took advantage of the opportunity of having absolutely nothing set in stone to do, and walked and walked and walked. Whether from our rented flat in the 2me arrondisement for the first half of the trip, or our quaint little hotel in St Germaine de Près for the second, we explored the city on our own terms and schedule, and discovered a wonderful city.
In between, we took a 2-hour TGV ride down to Beaune, the center of Burgundy wine country. Being rank amateurs as far as wine is concerned, we enlisted the services of Mike McAndrew, an Englishman who retired to Puligny-Montrachet and now shares his love of the area, its vignerons, and the fruits of their labors with clients via private, custom-designed tours of local wineries. After a few tastings and a fine lunch, Jess and I still wouldn’t pass for so much as extras in “Sideways,” but we were certainly more comfortable with tasting, and above all appreciating, Burgundy reds and whites.
I traveled light this trip, trying to strike a fine balance between being a tourist and making pictures. I brought only a Leica M 240 and 4 lenses: a 21mm Elmarit, a 90mm Summicron (which never left my bag), and 35- and 50mm Summiluxes, which proved very useful in evening and night shooting. The whole kit also had the added advantage of its small size; being able to tuck the camera inside my jacket and the lenses in its pockets made for a much more enjoyable experience walking around.
Of course, having a travel companion who’s in the business and therefore understood my desire to “just give it another minute while I shoot this another way…” didn’t hurt, either. What a great week!