Recently I was spending a few days in Paris with my children. We were the classical tourists, climbing the Eiffel tower, visiting the chateau de Versailles, and admiring Mona Lisa in the Louvre. We were staying in a middle class hotel in Montmartre. In the evenings, we were coolhunting for good restaurants. To find good value for money, we were applying different strategies. One evening, we were just following the tourist streams. We were ending up on top of Montmartre, near the cathedral of Sacre Coeur. This is the place were all the artists are, selling their paintings, and offering to draw on-the-spot portraits of the tourists. The place is also chock full with tourist restaurants. We ended up in one of them. The food was ok – it is hard to get really bad food in Paris – but the price was not cheap, 70 Euros, for a decent meal for three. The next day we decided to follow the recommendation of our hotel owner, and eat in his favorite. The restaurant Basilic offered excellent food, at a reasonable price, 86 Euros for a meal of three. We ended up sitting besides two Germans, however, who were grumbling the entire evening that they could not get a decent beer at this restaurant. That we understood everything they were saying in German did not make it any better: It seems the restaurant Basilic is recommended to many other tourists. The third evening, we decided to follow our own instincts. We wandered around in Montmartre, peeking at many restaurants. In the end we found one which was quite small, but also quite full, mostly with locals. It turned out this was an excellent choice. We had a great meal in the restaurant “Villa de Poulot”, at a cost of 45 Euros.
Reflecting back, it occurred to me that we had done nothing else but coolhunted for the best restaurant. The first day, when we ended up in a tourist trap, we had followed the marketing hype. The next day, in the excellent but pricey restaurant, we had followed the advice of the expert. But the best experience we got in the third restaurant, when we followed the swarm – the locals and our own instincts – to the little corner restaurant. It pays to listen to the swarm.