Paris has long been one of the most visited cities in the world. From its incredible architecture to its world-renowned fashion and esteemed cuisine, yet most of the tourists have this Paris Syndrome, Have you ever heard of it?
Let me tell you, it is a term created to describe the shock or unhappiness tourists feel when visiting Paris, especially when their fairy-tale expectations don’t match the reality they experience once they visit the city.
For starters, I would like to mention that Paris does have its charm. That is for certain. But is “The city of love” perfect? perhaps not.
Let’s first discuss its flaws.
1. Safety issues!
Yes, no metropolitan city is completely safe especially when it comes to its tourists. Tourists are the most vulnerable prey thus they often stuck in unpleasant and troubling situations. Likewise, some areas of Paris are not really safe either for example, the 18th arrondissement and the Bercy bus station.
The 18th arrondissement is a district where all the Indians, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans live. It is also called le quartier Indien ou Pakistanais, (The Indian or Pakistani District).
I had an encounter with a thieve in 18th arrondissement as well, he seemed a stoner or some kind of serious drunkard who tried to steal my belongings from my rucksack. The moment they get the idea that you’re a tourist, you’re a target for them. Luckily, he could just take a T-shirt and a cap from my bag, the next thing was my DSLR but before he could reach that, my friend saw him. Lucky me!
Bus stations, Railway stations and Airports are the places in any city where thievery takes place the most. I encountered only one unpleasant situation and was even lucky with it but there were also people who were not. I saw a guy running around the CDG airport asking everyone if they have seen someone take his luggage. He seemed extremely troubled and his voice was shaking. It was the day I arrived at CDG Paris for the first time. Similar incident happened to a lady at Bercy Bus station when I was there to take my bus to Geneva. Her whole luggage was stolen while she was talking to the fellow passengers and waiting for the boarding to start.
Therefore an advice from my Parisian friend Bruno, be very careful with your luggage all the time.
2. Tourists everywhere!
Paris has a lot of tourists throughout the year, so it is quite crowded. Moreover, if you’re looking to make friends or perhaps to talk to Parisians, most probably, at first, you won’t know if you’re going to interact with a French person or a foreigner until you ask them. This is also why Paris isn’t a perfect place for a language student who is interested in knowing the French culture and wants to practice French.
3. Parisians dash all the time.
Parisians are always in a hurry as compared to other cities in France, so you may hear the word PARDON often. (My personal experience when I first visited Paris after being two months in Rennes). It gives us a sense of their hectic and stressful life. Just don’t fall in the same pit.
4. Eiffel Tower! Day or Night?
In my opinion, Eiffel Tower doesn’t really give that sensational feeling as it has been portrayed by tourism though it is mesmerizing once the lights are on and then you can take a pretty romantic selfie, better than the one in daylight, or You should visit it on a special day like New Year’s eve or National day of France.
5. Metro life!
Since I am a Delhiite, I didn’t find it as a problem, but Metros in Paris can be congested if you’re not used to it and not all the metros have AC, only a few new metros. The metro is very well connected and you have access to almost every corner of Paris, however, it does make it a little hard to read the map and interchange for other lines. Be ready to walk a nice distance when you change for lines.
However, THE CITY OF ROMANCE is a must to be in your bucket list. Let us tell you why!
You are thinking about the fashion capital of the world and indeed, it won’t upset you. There are several places in Paris that are quite famous for shopping.
Avenue des Champs Elysées
Let’s say you have a busy itinerary and you will not be able to take out some extra time to visit shopping destinations in Paris but I assume that you must have added Arc de Triomphe in your Itinerary. You’re lucky my friend because this avenue has a splendid view of the Arc de Triomphe & It has a wide variety of shops like Gap, Sephora, Bvlgari, Adidas, ZARA, FNAC and also the Famous Louis Vuitton where celebs like Ariana Grande, Bruce willis and Selena Gomez also came to shop.
La Vallée Village (The Shopping Village)
This shopping spot is about 30kms from Paris (though easily accessible via RER A) and it is my favourite even though I cannot really afford to buy anything here. La vallée village is home to prestigious brands like GUCCI, HUGO BOSS, JIMMY CHOO, BURBERRY, TED BAKER, POLO RALPH LAUREN etc. It is easy to get there by RER A & it will take you around an hour. Before we enter La vallée village, we go through a big mall (Val d’EUROPE) with brands like ZARA, H&M, Bershka, Pimkie etc but once you traverse the mall and enter “La vie en Rose” (The Shopping Village), it’s charming, it seems like you’re in a beautiful village of Switzerland. Please expect a waiting queue for Brands like GUCCI, Versace, Prada etc.
Galeries Lafayette Haussmann
Paris is the city where Coco Chanel invented the iconic Little Black Dress, the city where fashion made some remarkable moments since the time of Kings and Queens. Galeries Lafayette is one of the most popular shopping centers in Paris (you can also find it in almost every other city of France). You get many luxury brands for Jewels, Accessories like Hand Bags, Shades, Watches, Perfumes under the famous glass Coupole of Lafayette, rising up to a height of 43 meters. This shopping center seems like a palace, here’s a picture below.
For travellers and bargain shoppers, you should know that France has two sales periods:
Summer sales begin Wednesday, June 25th and end Tuesday, July 29th.
Winter sales start around 8 January each year.
2. Cuisine en France
The French have always been proud of their sophisticated food and globally, French food is known for its finesse and flavour but my vegetarian friends may not get excited as the 75% of it, is non-vegetarian. Don’t worry, you’ll find your favourite.
The baguette is a long and thin loaf of crusty bread and it is the most important part of any French meal. Everyone at the table is expected to have at least one piece. It can be eaten in different ways, including to prepare sandwiches. A single loaf of Baguette costs around 0.75 cents to 1 euro.
Let’s start with the national dish of France i.e. Crêpe. It was invented in the thirteenth century in Brittany (Bretagne in French) and it is similar to pancake in shape. You can find many crêperies all around in Paris, A creperie can be a take-out restaurant, a stall or a café. It is sumptuous and not at all expensive hence it is a must while in France and that would be a cherry on the top if you can have it while you’re in Britanny.
Are you Peckish? Madeleine can help you to avert it a little in your busy schedule as I do it when I am at the university or when I backpack, I eat some Madeleine to hold up for quite some time. It is really great for munching and small appetites. Madeleine is popular since Louis XV when he first tasted them at the Chateau de Commercy in Lorraine in 1755. Moreover do you know Marcel Proust’s Madeleine moment in the second longest novel ever written “A la recherche du temps perdu/In Search of Lost Time? The beautiful description Proust has given is unattainable.
You all know it already right? I survived my first two months at Alibaba Kebab in Rennes as I don’t know cooking well technically as I did not know cooking. Kebab is not French but it is still in the list because you will find it quite easily not only in Paris but in other European countries as well and in fact the size, shape and so the taste differs from place to place. I tasted Kebabs in Paris, Rennes, Luxembourg city, and Kehl (Germany) and I prefer the one in Rennes. Vegans, you can always find a Subway (The restaurant, not the metro) in the city to find something similar to Kebab, just as we have Veg Biryani and Non Veg Biryani, we have Kebabs and Veg Sandwich/Subway. I let you decide if there’s even a comparison.
Did you know that “JALEBI” is not an Indian dessert but was brought here by Persian traders around 1000years ago and so we now consider it ours, The origin of Couscous is North Africa but it is the third favoured dish in France, and the most popular one in Eastern France. I used to eat it often in my university’s cafeteria and It is one of my favourite dish or let’s say French dish. Yayyyy Its veg!!!
Btw where is south of France ? Are they busy making the best wines out there? JK!
Let’s include a drink too just in case! Hot Chocolate, They are easy to locate at every touristic place in Paris. I would suggest you to have it in the evening at Trocadéro, when the sun is getting real low and it starts to get a bit cold, I had it and I still remember that wonderful feeling.
Paris is a city that thrives on its history and if you fancy a dose of culture, you’re at the right place. There are around 130 museums in Paris. The French Revolution, Wars, fashion, musical evolution, Refugees are few examples of the themes subsumed in the many indispensable history museums in Paris. The best place to start is with the oldest museum “ La Louvre”. A museum, furnished with 35000 artistic treasures including the famous portrait “The Mona Lisa” also known as “La Jaconde”. The other famous museums are Museé d’Orsay, The Centre Pompidou, Museé des Arts et Métiers etc.
A word of wisdom
Louvre can take months if you want to see every object in it and one of my friend was ready with her heart and soul to see all the articles at “La Louvre” before commencing her trip however just after her visit to the Museé de beaux arts, she discovered that It was as exciting for her as watching paint dry hence my advise is to think twice before you start bouncing off the walls about museums.
Paris, The city of Architects
The great French metropolis is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in the world, thanks to the impressive cohesion of its architecture.
Paris accumulates a large number of buildings and emblematic buildings of all eras: the Gothic style of Notre Dame de Paris, the neoclassical of the Church of the Madeleine, the Eiffel Tower, among others. But that’s not all, in Paris there are also the works of modern architects like the Louvre Pyramid by IM Pei.
The best way to cherish the quintessential architecture is to stroll through the city of lights.
So do you think you should visit this “impeccable” French city?
One of the most culturally rich and a beautiful city, Paris is testimony to the Egyptian proverb that a beautiful thing is never perfect and personally, I found Paris perfect in its imperfections. Moreover, I got a great friend like Bruno in Paris.