Generally speaking, Paris seems to be one of those cities people either love or they hate. People either rave about the city’s romanticism and culture, or complain about the high costs and “unfriendly” people. I didn’t fall in love with Paris, but I didn’t hate it either… I fell in “like” with Paris.
To be fair, I generally find myself more smitten with smaller, historic cities such as Krakow or Sarajevo, over huge, sprawling capital cities. On this trip to France, my favorite city by a long shot was lovely, picturesque Annecy. That said, Paris was a much anticipated experience for me. Especially since I’ve traveled extensively, but this would be my first trip to the city of lights.
Why didn’t I love or hate Paris?
Even though I would classify my feelings as “like” for the city, I didn’t actually “like” any of my experiences in Paris. Rather, the vast majority of my experiences I either loved or hated. Being one of the few litigators I know who actually enjoy math, to me, an abundance of “loves” paired with a plethora of “hates” equals “like.”
For instance, I simply adored the views from the top of Notre Dame, but hated the long wait to climb the tower and the pushy crowds inside the church. To make this experience more palatable for your trip to Paris, I would recommend that you arrive to Notre Dame at least 20 minutes before they open the tower to get a spot in line.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re in the correct line – the line to get in the church is a completely separate line from the one that forms around the side of the building for access to the tower. (So yes, if you want to admire the interior of the church, you will have to wait in yet another line…).
I relished my adventurous multi-course dinner at the famed Le Chateaubriand (which you can read about in detail here), but found myself rather disappointed by many of the other fine dining choices I made while in the city. Not that the food wasn’t good – in fact, that’s precisely how I would describe many of my meals in Paris – “good.” Good, but not worthy of the hefty price tag that is unavoidable in many of the city’s sit-down bistros and brasseries. Aside from my experience at Le Chateaubriand, I most enjoyed my super casual dining experiences such as picnic lunches of fresh baguettes and French cheeses and my daily banana and nutella crepe from the crepereria around the corner from our hotel.
I wasn’t a fan of the Champs de Elysse shopping and dining scene, but loved our daily walks along the Seine towards the stately Eiffel Tower. One of my favorite Parisian experiences was stopping at a local market to purchase champagne, fruit, cured meats and cheeses, and then having a picnic on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower. Plan your dinner so that you can experience sunset and then the sparkling twinkle lights of the grand tower once evening arrives.
I agree that Paris is a city that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. Besides that, the city makes a great starting point for heading west to explore Normandy and the Loire Valley, or the route I chose to explore: Burgundy, the French Alps and Champagne region.
To be perfectly honest, writing this post has forced me to reminisce quite a bit about my trip last spring. With some time having passed, it’s now easier to forget about Paris’ high costs and crowds, and I find my feelings of “like” drifting closer and closer to feelings of love…