If there is one era I’d want to visit more than any other, it’s Paris in the 1920s. I’m in love with that decade. The literature, jazz, optimism, style, and atmosphere — I love it all. Midnight in Paris is my favorite Paris movie, and I often wish I could make that real life.
However, unless you have a time machine, you can’t really visit 1920s Paris. What made les Années folles special can never be relived — the spirit, psyche, people, and music have long since faded away. But, as we have seen with the rise of Gatsby-themed parties and Prohibition-style bars, you can pretend! And that’s what I did on a recent visit to Paris, where there are still enough spots that recreate the era’s vibe to fill a visit.
20 rue Jacob – Back in the ’20s, a lot of American expats hosted salons that would bring together artists and writers to discuss and debate specific topics. One of the most famous was led by writer Natalie Clifford Barney. Although the building she lived in has been rebuilt since her time, during the day, you can often peer into the courtyard and garden where she held her salons. The Luxembourg Garden (Jardin du Luxembourg; 6th arrondissement) – This is one of my all-time favorite places to visit when I’m in Paris. These beautiful and gigantic gardens, which surround the Luxembourg Palace (now home to the National Assembly), are also full of walking paths, chairs to relax in, ponds and fountains, statues, and finely manicured lawns that can’t help but inspire and soothe you. On a warm day, the gardens are bursting with people. In his day, Ernest Hemingway was also a fan, and it is said he wrote a lot during his strolls around the gardens. Shakespeare & Co. (37 Rue de La Bûcherie, this site) – Located across from Notre Dame, Shakespeare & Co. is one of the most iconic bookshops in the world. The original store opened in 1919 and served as a popular haunt for writers such as Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, and others who fancied themselves writers (Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast has a chapter about his visit). The original location closed during WWII. The current store and location dates to 1951. It still captures the spirit of the writer class and does a lot to support writers (it has 13 beds writers can sleep in for free!), hosting readings and events throughout the year. I love wandering through its stacks and picking out unknown titles. Montmartre – The Left Bank was the main hangout of artists and writers, but when they crossed the Seine, they went to Montmartre, where the cheap shops, cafés, and restaurants served as a backdrop to their discussions and work. They painted in the squares, debated in the streets, and wandered the tiny cobblestone streets in solitary thought. Today, thanks to the cheap housing, the area is still home to artists and painters (though it is far more touristy)! 27 rue de Fleurus – Another salon was hosted by the famous Gertrude Stein, who lived at this address. Anyone who was anyone attended them, including Joyce, Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Guillaume Apollinaire, and Ezra Pound. Today, the rue de Fleurus is a quiet street and the house she lived in has been remodeled, but there’s a plaque above the address marking this famous spot, so you can sit for a moment and imagine what it would have been like to see all the greats walk in and out!
Where to Eat
Les Deux Magots (6 Place Saint-Germain des Prés, this site) and Café de Flore (172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, this site) – These two cafés are most synonymous with the Lost Generation (those who grew up during and just after World War I). Located right near each other in the now-trendy Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter of Paris, these cafés are where all the artists and writers hung out in the 1920s. Picasso, Hemingway (again), Simone de Beauvoir, André Gide, Jean Giraudoux, Jean Paul Sartre — they were always here. Les Deux Magots sits on the corner of Boulevard Saint-Germain and Rue Bonaparte and fills the sidewalk with its chairs and tables, while the inside retains its old look: white walls, columns, and large mirrors. Café de Flore, with its large plants and flowers in the entranceway, is cozier but also retains its old-style marble floor and red leather seats. La Closerie des Lilas (171 Boulevard du Montparnasse, this site) – At the far end of the Luxembourg Gardens, you’ll find this tiny little café with a dimly lit interior and large outdoor patio hidden from the street by giant plants. It is said that Hemingway first read The Great Gatsby here. Like the other venues, the interior is still identical to how was it was 1920s. Le Polidor (41 Rue Monsieur le Prince, this site) – In Midnight in Paris, this is where Gil meets his idol, Ernest Hemingway. During the 1920s, this was actually a popular location for the likes of Joyce, Hemingway, André Gide, and Antonin Artaud. Thanks to the movie, restaurant is doing a booming business, but if you can find a seat, you’ll see that the hard-wood interior and décor has changed little since the ’20s. Imagine yourself sitting next to some famous artist of the day over delicious food and wine!
Where to Listen to Music
There aren’t many original music and jazz clubs left that have been around since the 1920s. Most have shifted focus, but if you want to listen to some good music, I recommend these three jazz bars:
Le Caveau de la Huchette (5 Rue de la Huchette, this site) – This place has become increasingly popular since it was mentioned in the hit movie La La Land. Le Caveau des Oubliettes (52 Rue Galande, this site) – An awesome club in the Latin Quarter. This small venue is an ex wine cave dating back centuries. Small and intimate, it’s my favorite of the three. Le Duc des Lombards (42 Rue des Lombards, this site) – On the right bank, this jazz club is probably the most famous (and touristy) of the city but it gets incredible acts and pumps out some of the best jazz and blues in the area!
Where to Drink
Harry’s New York Bar (5 Rue Daunou, this site) – This is where they created the Bloody Mary and the Sidecar. This nondescript bar opened in 1911 and was a popular hangout for Fitzgerald and Hemingway. The tiny bar, with its deep wood finish, carved ceilings, and red leather seats, still remains intact. Dingo Bar (10 Rue Delambre) – This is where Hemingway first met Fitzgerald. It was popular with the Lost Generation because it was one of the few places that were open all night (and they liked to party late into the morning). Today, it’s an Italian restaurant called L’Auberge de Venise, but the original bar remains and you can still come and pretend to have a drink with “Papa.” The Prescription Cocktail Club (23 Rue Mazarine, this site) – From the street, all you see is a curtained window, but when you get inside, you’re reminded of a 1920s NYC-style speakeasy. True, this place didn’t exist in the 1920s, but if you’re looking for incredible cocktails and an ambiance and class that says “welcome to history,” slide up to the marble bar and enjoy a drink in this darkly lit bar with exposed bricks and old-fashioned furniture. The Little Red Door (60 Rue Charlot, this site) – Located in the Marais, this is another bar looking to recreate that 1920s speakeasy vibe. It’s easy to pass the little red door of a nondescript building that hides this beautiful small bar with brick walls, eclectic furniture, and amazing (strong) cocktails. While it lacks the true ’20s feeling of the Prescription Cocktail Club, it’s still a fun place to visit!
As Hemingway once wrote, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Paris has changed a lot since les Années folles, and while it will never be the same, you can visit the old haunts and — just for a moment — transport yourself back in time and imagine what it was like.
Welcome to another edition of our new Africa column with Natasha and Cameron from The World Pursuit. While I’ve been to the continent in the past, I’ve only seen a few countries and this website is really thin on Africa content. I’m super duper excited to have these two travelers share their knowledge about traveling the continent. They will share budget tips, detailed guides, itineraries, and stories to get you excited and prepared for your own trip! Their second post is on how to get around Southern Africa with different budget travel options.
Ten months ago we started thinking about our trip through southern Africa. We knew that the region was vast and that travel there was a difficult mystery. We weren’t even sure if it was possible to cross the continent on our own. All we knew was that we wanted to see the great African plains, watch lions attack impalas, and have a drink while listening to the sound of fish eagles.
Fast forward nine months, and we now own a South African–registered Land Cruiser and have been touring the massive continent by ourselves. How did we get to this point? Was it the cheapest option? Or did we make a massive blunder by throwing a bunch of cash into a major liability, what with bad roads, border officials, bribes, and mechanical costs? Perhaps an overland tour would have been the best option? Or might backpacking across the continent have achieved our goal?
What is the best option for budget travelers in southern Africa: an overland tour, backpacking, or self-driving? It all comes down to what you want to see and how you want to experience Africa. Here are the pros and cons of each option:Overland Tours
Overland tours are one of the most popular options for young people wanting to travel southern Africa these days. All transportation and accommodation, most food, and many activities are covered. They require little to no planning and no driving, are safe, and offer a sure way to meet other travelers.
Acacia Africa, Nomad, Oasis, and Absolute Africa are four of the most popular “budget” overland safari companies. These tours venture in and around South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi (as well as Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania). Some tours cut out a few countries, while the “mega” tours include all of them. Some of the tours spend only two days in a certain country; others may spend a week there.
Acacia and Nomad include almost all activities, food, and park fees in the cost. They save the additional expenses for specialty experiences, like bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge or a hot-air balloon ride over the Serengeti.
Oasis and Absolute, on the other hand, opt for a pick-and-choose model and include only a limited number of activities. Instead, they drive you from point A to point B and allow you to book experiences with local operators. Oasis and Absolute also include only 60% of your meals. (If you want all of the adventure activities included, the four providers are similar in price.)
Regardless of the overland company, expect to add roughly $5-10 USD a day for various expenses, like waters, beer, and tipping your guides.Tour Company Average Daily CostAcacia $101.80 USDNomad $100.00 USDOasis $55.82 USDAbsolute $64.46 USD
Note: The prices differ according to where in Africa you are traveling, albeit not drastically. This is a crucial detail when determining to take an overland tour or go at it alone. Southern Africa is intrinsically cheaper and easier to do on your own than the rest of Africa. I like to call it “Africa Light.” Gas is cheaper, national parks are cheaper, food is cheaper, and the infrastructure is better suited for tourism. A tour in South Africa may average $86 USD a day with Acacia, while its East Africa tour will average $121 USD a day.
Pros of doing an overland tour in southern Africa:
Organized tour that requires little to no planning on a challenging continent Great option for meeting people, especially as a solo traveler Knowledgeable guides and safe drivers on harsh road conditions Groups can be great fun
Cons of doing an overland tour in southern Africa:
Lack of “adventure” on an organized tour No independence and hard to get away from the typical tourist activities Lack of genuine local interaction High cost Enjoyment is subject to the atmosphere of the group
Note: There are a few experiences offered by some overland tours that we do not agree with ethically. Any tour that puts you in contact with wild animals, such as lion walks, cheetah petting, and elephant riding, should raise immediate red flags. Ethics and tourism in Africa can be very murky; don’t always expect your tour operator to vet every activity and attraction.Self-Driving
road trip in southern AfricaThere are a plethora of variables that go into self-driving, but we’ll stick with the basics. Operating on the assumption that you will not choose to purchase a vehicle in Africa (you’d have to be crazy like us), your four main expenses will be transportation, food, accommodation, and activities.
TransportationWhen we first arrived in South Africa, we got a small pickup rental truck for $650 USD a month ($21 USD a day), split between the two of us. We went with a 2×4 to travel through Mozambique, but if you route carefully and skip the dirt roads and sand, it’s very possible to get around most of southern Africa in a sedan (we’ve even met people doing it on motorcycles)!
Rental vehicles are the cheapest in South Africa and can be driven into neighboring countries with a letter from the rental company stating your intent to cross borders. A manual sedan in Johannesburg can be rented for as little as $120 USD a week.
You may want to drive to remote areas, which means a fully kitted 4×4 rental; those come in at $800 USD a week out of South Africa and Namibia on the low end for a round-trip car rental.
However, for that price, you can score a truck that can go anywhere and has comfortable roof tents that can accommodate four people — which is the best way to get one heck of a safari for an affordable price. (We self-drove into the Okavango Delta and got further than any backpacker or overland tour could ever go.)
It’s important to factor in road tolls and gas into your costs. Tolls in southern Africa are few and far between, but they do exist and you can expect to pay $10–20 USD a week in tolls if you’re driving around South Africa.
Keep in mind that distances are vast in Africa, so you’ll be covering some major ground getting from point to point. Southern Africa is bigger than all of Europe, so expect to budget about $100–200 USD a week for fuel, depending on how fast you move and the distances covered.
While these numbers may be difficult for a solo traveler, a group of friends together can make an African road trip very cheap. Obviously, the cost per person goes down with the more travel companions you add; $10 USD a day for gas and the rental is possible per person in southern Africa if split four ways. With two people in a smaller car, it’s entirely possible to drive around for $15 USD a day per person. If you don’t have travel partners, try joining groups on Facebook like “Backpacking Africa” or posting in Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree forum.
FoodFood in Africa can be very affordable (of course there are some exceptions to this if you are eating out or have a special diet). You can find almost everything you want at large Western supermarkets in South Africa; however, as you work your way north, Western-style grocery stores become a rarity. Outside of big cities, most food will come from roadside stands or tiny convenience stores — all of which offer affordable local prices. If you’re cooking your own meals, you can get by on less than $70 USD a week for food. That includes eating three meals a day and items that may be considered luxuries to backpackers, such as steak, real coffee with milk, and a decent sandwich lunch.
AccommodationCampsites can range from $5–15 USD per person a campsite; this does not include a tent or sleeping bag. Camping in southern African national parks is closer to $20–30 USD per person plus daily park fees. The campsites, except in Botswana, are usually fenced in to provide protection from wildlife and have facilities such as an ablution block. In major cities, you will be able to find hostels, budget hotels, and Airbnb rooms, and it’s possible to get a bed for the same price as camping. Dorm beds run $10–20 a night and a double room $25–50 USD a night. But this isn’t Europe, so don’t be picky, and prepare for some less-than-desirable rooms. If you’re feeling truly adventurous, rooms in local roadside establishments cost around $3–8 USD a night but don’t plan on sleeping much because they’re often noisy and a little dirty.
ActivitiesYou can’t get around Africa without some activity expenses. However, if you have plans on seeing any wildlife, you will have to pay—national parks, private game reserves, and safaris all cost money. The good news is that park costs in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe are all reasonable, considering that these are some of the best game parks in all of Africa. Although you won’t have the comfort of being in a big game viewer and will have to spend money on fuel driving around the park all day, you will still able to see wildlife driving your own vehicle on your own time.These are some average national park fees in southern Africa:Namibia $9 USDBotswana $12 USDSouth Africa $15 USDZambia $25 USDZimbabwe $30 USD
Note: These fees are based on international passports and do not include vehicle fees. Note that almost every park in Africa charges a vehicle fee for self-drivers. The fee can range anywhere between $5 USD and $50 USD a day, depending on the country and the car’s type and registrationIn summary, it is next to impossible to estimate a budget for driving yourself. Here are some average self-driving costs per day per person:Rental car and fuel (two persons)* $15 USD (sedan) to $57 USD (4×4)Accommodation $10 USD (camping) to $25 USD (dorm or shared private room)Food $10–15 USDActivities $10 USDTotal $45–105 USD
* Prices are based on weekly car rentals starting in South Africa, where rentals are cheapest.
Pros of self-driving southern Africa:
Sense of adventure tackling southern Africa on your own Freedom to drive wherever you want National parks are cheaper than hopping on an organized safari You can take as much or as little time in a place You can delve deeper into local and rural African life with your own set of wheels
Cons of self-driving southern Africa:
The paperwork and bureaucratic headache of crossing borders with a car Constant planning and routing and always being “on” can become exhausting Maintaining and fixing the car if anything goes wrong Little to no help if problems arise Poor road maintenance can lead to potholes and road corrugation
Public Transport or “Backpacking”
safari in southern AfricaIt is incredibly hard to estimate the cost of backpacking around southern Africa because it can vary so widely depending on one’s style. It’s also dependent on if you want to completely go off the grid or if you want to do touristy things. Some may be okay with walking into a village, paying a few dollars to the local chief, and pitching a tent in the dirt, while others wouldn’t dream of this and would rather take public transport from campsite to campsite. Living like a local in southern Africa is very hard if you’re traveling. Poverty is rampant in Africa, and many Africans can’t even afford to adequately feed themselves, let alone travel to the next town while living on a dollar a day. Due to the lack of demand and infrastructure for long-distance travel, the transport options are much more difficult compared to the West and Asia.
TransportationLocal buses around town can cost anywhere from $0.25 USD to a $1.50 USD. They also only serve local towns and villages. For the larger intercity buses, you can expect to pay $8–25 USD for a 4–12-hour bus ride (sometimes longer). Tourist spots, parks, hostels, and campsites are often not near any major towns or villages, so you’ll need some budget for local taxis or plan on hitchhiking. The price of a taxi can range from $3–15 USD, depending on distance and remoteness.
FoodThere shouldn’t be any difference here compared to self-driving. The only exception is that self-drivers have the advantage of buying items in bulk and carrying cooking gear with them. If you are traveling by local transport and backpacking, your food options may be cheaper as you eat more and more of the local food and have less access to supermarkets. On the other hand, your costs could rise since you may not have the proper gear to cook all your own meals and may, therefore, frequent restaurants more.
AccommodationCampsites, hostels, and guesthouses will not differ in pricing compared to those for self-drivers. However, as an overland traveler without a car and just a backpack, you can sometimes instead pay a small fee ($3–5 USD) to a local village chief and pitch a tent in the community.
ActivitiesWhile you’ll be able to save on most things when backpacking southern Africa, you will lose out when it comes to seeing wildlife. Whereas overland tours and self-drivers have their own vehicle, backpackers will have to pay for each and every safari experience they want to have. Hopping on a day game drives into game parks costs $40 USD on the cheap end and $200 USD on the high end. The price difference is large, but most backpackers may visit fewer parks, so the cost difference isn’t out of this world. These are some average backpacking costs per day:Transportation $9 USDAccommodation $10 USDFood $10 USDActivities $15 USDTotal $44 USD
It is possible to backpack Africa for cheaper; we’ve even met people walking, backpacking, or cycling around the continent. However, someone who travels slowly, camps in villages, and skips national parks will have a much different trip than overland tours and self-drivers in southern Africa.
Pros of backpacking southern Africa:
Complete integration into local life Cheaper than a tour or self-driving Breaks boundaries with locals as they do not view you as having many means Operate on your own schedule
Cons of backpacking southern Africa:
Uncomfortable, exhausting, long, and even dangerous bus and train rides across the continent Greater chance of getting in an accident or having items stolen You should get used to being dirty No one to help you should something go wrong Constant routing and planning can get tiring
exploring southern AfricaSo what’s the best option for seeing southern Africa? It’s a difficult decision because overland tours are certainly the easiest, but also the most expensive and least adventurous. Backpacking can be difficult and uncomfortable and may hinder your experiences in Africa as most of the natural sights and national parks are far removed from populated cities where public transport operates. However, if you’re looking to meet some of the friendliest people on earth Africans are quick to befriend a backpacker. Self-driving falls somewhere in the middle, as it can be incredibly adventurous but will offer the most flexibility with a more mid-range price tag.
In my opinion, southern Africa is best done on your own because of its infrastructure and lower cost. Travel through each country varies a lot. In the end, it comes down to what you are looking for in terms of adventure, interactions, costs, comfort, and ease.
Natasha and Cameron run the blog The World Pursuit, focusing on adventure and cultural travel. The two of them met in the film industry before they decided to abandon the American lifestyle and travel the world together. They’ve been traveling together for three years across 55 countries and six continents. They recently bought a 4×4 at the tip of Africa and are traversing the continent while documenting their story on Instagram and Facebook.