Every day it seems somebody wants a “bonne adresse” (an inside travel tip basically on where to eat, buy, or see something). It could be the Parisien friend who’s about to visit New York, the American friend about to come to Paris, or the neighbor looking for a good resto in the 10th, not to mention the freaks on Facebook: “My dog’s sick and I’m in Sacramento. Anybody have a name of a good vet?”
My friend Caro feels the same way about bonnes adresses.
“I should be flattered when people want my advice, but then again, it’s a lot of pressure. Do you give them the addresses you actually like (like the café downstairs) and risk having people know a little too much about yourself and worse, risk having them downstairs when you come out in the morning.”
Caro also brought up a good point. “Do we give addresses we actually like or addresses we ASSUME people expect us to like (like that concept store you actually hate), which then makes us come across as cool.”
I’m not sure, but at least, Caro has some bonnes adresses to give. I, on the other hand, don’t, yet people can’t help but think I do.
It’s probably because I used to live in New York (10 years ago), and people want a bonne adresse from a “true New Yorker” and for that reason, I’m the one on the phone with a friend of a friend, finding a diner in real time in Brooklyn. And when I do; when I find the GPS setting and what’s good to order on the menu, what do I get in response?
“Cool! Thanks, man! Got an after dinner drink or maybe a night scene we can catch? Not too expensive.”
How did I become responsible for the NYC trip of someone I don’t know? And why am I feeling pressure this person might not like it? All because I lived there or visited there once? All because everyone always feels they need a fucking bonne adresse?
Living in Paris hasn’t helped either, especially as an American who everyone visiting simply assumes is on the pulse of Paris. “Hell John writes for GQ. He knows everything. (It’s true. Writers from GQ do know everything).
During the day, these people send me the hourly SMS: Hi John! On the Velib! Looking for a cocktail thingy in the 3rd. Ideas?
Take the Velib into traffic and kill yourself. Right at place des Vosges, right at the statue. Right at sunset. It’ll be perfect. Send.
My parents traveled a bit. But the bonnes adresses they got from friends were broader. “Tuscany in the spring is great,” said Babs McGarry. “Try Scotland. We loved it,” said Jean Marlow. And that was it. That’s all my parents needed as a bonne adresse.
Nowadays if you travel without bonnes adresses, you really aren’t traveling the way you should. In fact, you shouldn’t be traveling at all. Traveling (and living for the most part) today is a privilege, not a right, for people with bonnes addresses.
The worst part is when I do give out some bonnes adresses, people aren’t really that appreciative. They assume I gave them the bonnes adresses not the super bonnes adresses. And they’re right.
“John thanks for the spots. Mostly on point. Some a bit touristy, though, a bit cheesy.”
You’re a bit touristy and a bit cheesy. Now you know. Send.
In fact, bonnes adresses have nothing to do with the addresses themselves. They’re just a way for people to indirectly tell you they’re out there traveling eating, fucking, and dancing in the world, probably at the same time you’re not. And they want you to know this.
SMS: In the spa mud bath in Palm Springs you told us about. It rocks!! How’s work going BTW?
Not great. Hope you drown. Send.
Not having a great list of bonnes adresses has made me realize I no longer really know the city I come from, nor do I really know the city I live in, which makes me feel a bit old and a bit out of the mix. And the bonnes adresse I do have (some as old as eight years now) only make me feel like I’m living in some horrible Truman Show routine.
So please, next time you’re thinking of asking me for a bonnes adresses, don’t. Look it up on a blog or in a guidebook or just call Caro. I don’t have the time, and I don’t need the pressure. And honestly, giving them to you wouldn’t be keeping them “bonnes” anymore.
Sorry, but you’re the one who asked. Send.