Back in 2006, Jass and I booked our first trip abroad together to Paris. Having never booked a holiday ourselves before, neither of us really knew what we were doing and we ended up staying in a hotel near Disneyland (even though we weren’t going there) and spent a lot of time on the metro going back and forth to the city! I don’t remember much of the trip, apart from the weather being worse than it was at home, vegetarian food was virtually non-existent and people were unapproachable – unless you spoke fluent French with the correct pronunciation an’ all, you were just met with blank stares.
One memory I have is from dinner in the hotel restaurant one night. There was nothing I could eat on the menu so the waiter assured me the chef would whip something vegetarian up for me. He came back with a plate of lettuce and a couple of bread rolls. Lettuce!? What. Even. Is. That?
Overall, we had a pretty miserable time tbh.
But surely things have changed in 13 years?
Curiosity got the better of me, and when I got an email from Eurostar back in November with their Black Friday deals, I couldn’t resist booking a 24 hour break for us to go back to the City of Love and see what all the fuss is about.
Jass was unsure as he hated it more than I did the first time round, but we both decided to go back with an open mind. Maybe we were too harsh the first time round?
Part of me wanted to see if it’s changed and the other part wondered what I was missing out on as I have friends and family who adore Paris as much as I love New York and go back every year. I have never understood why.
But has it changed?
Yes and no.
We know that the French are famously very proud of their language, but the first thing we noticed was that they generally seem a lot friendlier than what we remember. Don’t get me wrong, they won’t go out of their way to help you as others in a different country might, but they now make more of an effort. It seems as though they’ve accepted that most tourists don’t speak fluent French and so they try and help when they can. I know it’s been over a decade since my last trip, but nevertheless, I was impressed.
Sidenote: shoutout to our hotel receptionist at Hotel Balmoral who was super lovely and friendly. You wouldn’t have thought she was Parisian at all if her accent didn’t give it away.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist. *winks*
I know I can’t exactly complain too much. I am a Londoner after all and we’re not exactly that great ourselves.
Veganism is a big trend at the moment and so I was excited to see whether that was also the case in Paris. From what I observed in the 24 hours I was there for, I don’t think so.
It’s still a bit of a struggle, but I have to say it’s certainly slightly easier to find vegetarian food in Paris now (though it’s mostly vegan). You can pretty much rule out the majority of fancy restaurants, or any that you might find on a ‘top 10 restaurants in Paris’ article. Instead, I’d opt for cuisines that are known for their veggie fare; Italian, Indian, Lebanese etc.
Personally I can’t think of a cuisine I dislike more than French, so I’d choose penne arrabbiata or falafel over that any day.
London has a bad rep for grey skies and terrible weather, but I actually think Paris is far worse and pretty depressing. We had the odd glimpse of sunshine on our second day here, and honestly speaking, the city is transformed and looks like a completely different place in the sun. I say this when the sun shines in London too, but it got me thinking..
Firstly, why do I always come here in the wrong season? Last time we were here, it was around February/March too. *inserts face-palm emoji*
Secondly. Is this the Paris people fall in love with?
Maybe I need to come back in the summer?
Tbh, I don’t know if that appeals to me either. Even at this time of year, Paris is chaotic, crowded and dirty. The queues at every major tourist site are ridiculous and there are hoards of people everywhere you turn.
The streets are dirtier than many other European cities I’ve been to, the metro feels grimy, nobody seems to pick up after their dogs so you have to watch where you step and pickpocketing is rife all over the city; particularly in the touristy parts.
We were warned about several scams that go on in the city; people walking around with big cameras may take your photo and then demand money for it, people selling fake tickets for the Louvre or the hawkers selling bracelets may convince you to try them on and then demand payment for them once they put it on your wrist as the only way to take the bracelet off yourself is by cutting it off. We heard countless stories from friends who’d experienced some of these, our hotel staff and taxi drivers. There are signs and constant announcements in all the metro stations too – and while this happens everywhere, it just seems to be more prominent in Paris and doesn’t make you feel very safe.
Of course I’m not immune to the breathtaking view of the Eiffel Tower lit up at night from the Alexander III Bridge.
I adore Parisian style; everyone is just incredibly chic and well-dressed everywhere you look and it goes without saying that this is one of the most photogenic cities in the world, with it’s beautiful architecture and iconic landmarks.
I don’t hate Paris. I’m just not in love with it.
24 hours here was certainly not enough; there is so much more that I wanted to do and see. I’m certainly open to going back at some point in the future and visiting other cities in France; particularly in the south.
Apparently ‘Paris Syndrome’ is a real thing, which may be why the city didn’t live up to my expectations, but do I regret going back? No! I never regret travelling anywhere as everyone’s experiences are different, and how do you know what yours will be unless you see it for yourself?
Some people hate London. Others can’t think of anything worse than going to New York. In the same way, I’ve decided that I’m just not cut out for Paris, and that’s ok.
SHOP MY LOOK
Navy scarf (similar, currently on sale)
Pink Skirt* – out of stock, similar here
Silver brogues (similar)
Silver boots (currently on sale)