Paris, Je Nes T’aime Pas

I’m going to be honest here. I didn’t love Paris, France.

Maybe my expectations were way too high. Maybe we were starting to feel a little tired of traveling. Or maybe Paris, France isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I found that the Parisian reputation of being mean though, was completely unfounded. A little rude and pushy, yes — big on cutting in line, or just stampeding rather than forming a neat and orderly line — but I digress. All the French that we had contact with were extremely friendly. One Frenchman told me that they’re only rude if a tourist comes up and immediately starts speaking in English without bothering to even try in French, and we always gave it a go with our minimal French before switching, so maybe that’s why, but I really thought that the French were pretty nice. Stinky, YES. Mean, no.

Going into the visit to Paris with visions of the “most romantic city in the world,” dancing in our heads, Seba and I were both let down. Seba’s parents, who are French teachers, and met in France, talk about this city all the time. But they failed to mention a few things. There was dog-poop all over the sidewalks — not to Valpo levels, but enough that you had to watch were you walk. There was a lot of graffiti. I got a general impression that the city is rather dirty. And, THERE ARE SO MANY TOURISTS EVERYWHERE. Part of that is our own fault for going to the tourist-y places — how could we possibly visit France and not see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame or the Louvre. You have to. But, even walking on side streets down into residential neighborhoods, away from the big sights, we could never escape others strolling around with their cameras.

I’m not anti-tourist at all. I’m not one of those people that goes into everything saying, “I’m going to stay off the beaten path!!!” But, honestly, Notre Dame felt like a Catholic Disney World. I mean, there were machines that you could put a few Euros into and get a coin with a stamp of the Notre Dame on it. There were little booths inside the church selling souvenirs. It was disgusting. That was the first place we went to, and maybe because I hated it so much that shaped the rest of my time. The other thing that was disgusting? The metro, dear lord, the metro. People were not into deodorant and/or bathing way more so than any other place we’ve been to in Europe.

And the Louvre? Don’t even get me started. I have a bone to pick with the Louvre, although I think I’ll leave that for another post.

In short, I really wasn’t crazy about Paris. I LIKED it. I’m glad we saw visited. I just didn’t love it. And I was soooooooooooooo hoping to fall in love with France, because since Seba has French citizenship that would definitely be the easiest place for us to move!

Although, it would be really romantic to shoot a wedding there. In a castle or something. There were so many gorgeous little streets and nooks and crannies just begging to be photographed. I know that a lot of people have fallen in love in Paris/fallen in love with Paris. I’m not saying it’s not a cool city, because it is. It just wasn’t our favorite place from this trip, that’s all.

On an upside, we stayed with Fned and her hubby and I love them so much. I’m a huge fan of her blog, her writing always strikes a chord with me and we’d even met once before when they came to Chile. But, this time around, we got to know them so much better and I thoroughly enjoyed every second we spent hanging out. I’d go so far as to say that they were hands down the best part of Paris :)

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Comments

  1. PastaQueen says:

    I felt the same way about Notre Dame. I wondered how the laborers who spent decades building the place would feel about the souvenir coin machines. They hauled tons of stone around for that?

    I also got the impression that they had different coin machines at the big tourist places, so you could try to collect them all.

  2. Leigh says:

    I'm so glad you guys are living your dream! It's been great following you through your photos. Speaking of photos, you might want to check out this photo contest:

    http://www.plataformaurbana.cl/archive/2009/09/

    Happy travels!

  3. Name says:

    Paris improves after several visits, when you work out how to cut out the overly touristy bits. Yes, the Louvre sucks – the Mona Lisa is totally underwhelming (that was visit no. 1) But Musee d'Orsay on a Sunday on visit no.3 was fabulous, and the Nuit Blanche (when museums and other places stay open late into the night) on visit 4 was fantastic. Other parts of France are lovelier and much less touristy so don't let it put you off the country. Lyon, Reims, Nantes, Angiers… But the dog poo is everywhere, according to my mum. You sort of stop noticing it after a while.

    (From someone moving to Chile next year – your blog makes research fun! We're also recently engaged – I'll let you know if we do the ceremony in Chile because your photos are just stunning :)

  4. emilyinchile says:

    The previous commenter touched on something I was going to say – you can still fall in love with France, even if you didn't love Paris! There are some decent-sized cities and gorgeous scenery in other parts of the country.

    I have memories of liking Paris as a kid, but I haven't been since middle school. I really want to go back and see how it compares now that I'm older.

  5. I completely agree with you. I was enchanted with the idea of Paris in high school after watching films like Sabrina, Forget Paris, and all of the old black and white classics set there. I enjoyed my first trip there – it was my first time traveling abroad. I was amazed by the food, the sights, everything. But my second visit was a bit of a let down. Urine-scented streets, dodgy characters, frustrating metro. I hope to love it again if I ever return.

  6. maeskizzle says:

    I agree with Emily, you can still fall in love with France. And perhaps even Paris. I had really low expectations of Paris, just because everyone was always talking about how great it was and it almost seemed more cliché than real to me by the time I went. It's probably not a place I would have even chosen to go if I hadn't been meeting up with a friend living there. But I really liked it, found it super pretty and don't remember seeing dog poop. I think my low expectations may have helped shape my experience as a positive one.

  7. maeskizzle says:

    I agree with Emily, you can still fall in love with France. And perhaps even Paris. I had really low expectations of Paris, just because everyone was always talking about how great it was and it almost seemed more cliché than real to me by the time I went. It's probably not a place I would have even chosen to go if I hadn't been meeting up with a friend living there. But I really liked it, found it super pretty and don't remember seeing dog poop. I think my low expectations may have helped shape my experience as a positive one.

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