Baby Boomer Reverie: 1966

Monmartre stepsIt was the early boomer tourist bible.

The hotel was a charming three story in the trendy, artsy Monmartre section of Paris, the location of so many movies of the times: An American in Paris, Gigi, Funny Face, Charade. Arthur Frommer highly recommended the residence. The 1965 edition warned that prices had risen a bit from his first book in 1957, and the new one had to be titled Europe on $5 and $10 a Day. This destination, as usual in his listings, didn’t have private conveniences. At $6.50, it was one of the higher picks. You’d have to eat frugally, do a lot of walking and go to free museums to sneak in under $10 a day.

Obviously, the concept was geared to the younger generation, boomers who didn’t mind roughing it a bit on trips: cramped trains, cheap food, basic rooms—it was almost romantic.

A line started in the small lobby and snaked out to the street, everyone clutching the bible.

“We have un chambre left,” the hostess informed me.

“I’ll take it,” I chirped.

Sans bain et toilet, trois floors, sans elevator.”

C’est bon,” I said, practicing my French.

Est petite.”

C’est la vie,” I smiled with a wave of the hand.

Le chambre est separated from the other chambres by les couvetures.”

I had to look up “couvetures.” It meant blankets. Paris newstand

Twenty eager people stood behind me. There was a long line at my second choice across the street.

The girl who just rented a room was awful cute.

“I’ll take it,” I said.

“45 francs, sil vous plait.”

I did a fast calculation. It was $9.

“What about the $6.50 rate mentioned in the book?” “Ah, oui, le livre. Well, you see we have much business from le livre, so we raise prices.”

The last edition in 2004 was entitled Europe on $85 a Day. Perhaps from nostalgia or limited means, aging baby boomers still buy it. Like its predecessors, le livre was obsolete soon after publication. What was intended to disclose little known bargains eliminated them as fast as a speeding tourist.

Terry Hamburg writes the Boomer to You blog about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.

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