Last time I visited Paris, it was for Le Web 2007. I was tired and exhausted after what was a tough year — long work hours, sleepless days unhealthy eating habits and a grueling travel schedule essentially were acting like a millstone around my neck. It was hard to enjoy the conference which attracts thousands of entrepreneurs from around Europe as I sleep walked through various sessions.
All I remember is a spectacular meal with Martin Varsavsky, Lars and Daniella Hinrichs, Dominique and Kathy Johnson. I also remember going for a walk around Paris with Diggmeister Kevin Rose. But that’s all I can remember. I didn’t even see Eiffel Tower. And before you could say au revoir, I was off, back to San Francisco. And then my mistakes caught up with me, leaving me unable to travel for quite sometime.
So when it was time for Le Web this year, I checked with my doctor, packed my bags and decided that I am going to stay for an extra couple of days. And I am glad I did. Instead of attending only the conference and its ancillary events, I decided that I am going to enjoy the city of lights.
I ended up sitting next to Eiffel Tower, after a long run along the Siene. I was so spell bound that I forgot to take pictures. I walked among the throngs that packed the Champs-Élysées, all decked out in pre-Christmas finery.
In order to compensate for some of my unhealthy eating habits, I took long walks, randomly, getting lost on purpose to just see Paris, up close and personal. I didn’t mind the cold weather, or the gray skies or the damp. I have never felt completely isolated like I did when I went for a walk: I don’t speak the language and I had no sense of direction. All I had was my trusted Blackberry Tour (with its GPS) as a guide. I walked and walked — and thought about things I have been putting off in life.
That to me is bliss!
And while I thought about technology, mostly it was about life. It has been most refreshing four days for me, enough for me to look forward to the next year, and re-prioritize. And while I am sad that I missed the True Ventures holiday party, and that I slacked from writing, I am not going to make any excuses. I had fun.
For the first time in years, I was happy not being connected — writing in a moleskin, scribbling notes, taking snapshots here and there. Despite being at Le Web, a technology conference, I tuned out the digital and focused on what Paris and rest of the old have to offer: life and the beauty that comes with it.
I need to come back,, perhaps for a couple of months. Look at the art, sit and watch people and maybe even figure out how to order in French. For now, that is wishful thinking!