Sights of Paris (Part I)

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After London, Paris. Don’t hate me for saying it, but at first sight, it felt like going from Peru to Bolivia.

I have never liked Paris. Go ahead, call me a little spoiled French girl, I’m used to it. Saying you don’t like Paris usually makes you get hate look from people who are dreaming to visit the city of lights, and it brings contempt from other French people. They shrug at me, saying: «oui mais bon… c’est Paris quand même !».

I’ve been to Paris a thousand of times, as a tourist, a concert-goer, and a student. The only way I can stand the city for more than a few days is by going full tourist mode. In fact, most of the time, I just pretend I don’t speak French. Parisians see me as an idiot but a foreign idiot, so it’s not as bad in their eyes.

My main issue with Paris is that life is very difficult there. Accommodation is crazy expensive and so are the subway (€1.70 per ride!), food in general and tickets to various attraction. The city is dirty — very dirty. You remember me praising the London tube? Well, in Paris we rode packed subway with no air-con and people puking around us. Seriously.

I think that Paris is resting on its laurels. Because “it’s Paris”, because there are so many sights and because the city was once beautiful and famous, people visit it anyway. Yet locals don’t try to make it welcoming and everything is overpriced. Only in Paris one star hotels at the 7th floor of an old building with toilets outside the room cost €50.00 per night. Only in Paris a sandwich is €10 and a bottle of water as much as €4. And people suck it up — because it’s Paris.

Never mind. I’ll stop bitching and I’ll leave you with the best sights!

You can follow our French trip here on Flickr: France (2010).

Place Charles de Gaulle

I Love Paris

Arche de Triomphe

Les Champs-Élysées

Shopping at Dior (not me!)

Avenue Montaigne

Detail of Pavement

Champs-Élysées

Notre-Dame

Notre-Dame

In a Café

Banks of the Seine River

In a Small Coffee Shop

Notre-Dame

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

21 Comments

  1. You’re shopping at all the wrong places! I never paid water more than 2e and sandwiches 4e.

    Enjoy your stay in the city that smells like pee and e-mail me if you have time to go for a coffee 🙂

  2. As usual beautiful pictures. I loved Paris but people had an attitude sometimes. Actually the only time I have been denied restaurant service was in Paris. A backpacking friend and I decided to share a pizza and the waiter looked at us with disdain and said “you cannot share anything, you have to buy a whole dish each one”, we were like wow, only in Paris!
    Other than that, it is a magical city and one of the best kept secrets is the Salvador Dali museum in Montmartre (I hope I spelled that right), it was a small but very interesting collection of his art.

  3. Malaysians also complain about our national capital – air pollution, traffic gridlock. But we still like to go there for sightseeing and shopping, LOL…

  4. Hey Zhu, as a visitor to Paris many times yes I love it, I love the grandeur the sight and every thing touristy and I totally agreed with you on the other aspect of Paris too…dirty, pricey and it is a very expensive city to live in.

    I do feel ‘intimidated’ when we approach people along the streets for help though, that’s why during our last trip, hubby bought a french language tape and all four of us, yes including my daughters learned some very basic greetings, so cute. I bet you’ll laugh when I speak French 😉

    Still, despite the beauty versus the flirt, people still flock to Paris as you rightly pointed out ‘It’s Paris’ heheheh…

  5. I had the same observations when I was in Paris. I chose a hostel in the 20th because it was in my budget and ate mostly crepes because they were inexpensive and I didn’t have to take 2 hours out of my day to get one. Paris is beautiful, but I got the sense when I was there that Parisians don’t really appreciate its beauty, but instead take it for granted. “But of course it’s beautiful, it’s Paris!”

    Paris was also the first place I noticed how bad pollution can be. I was in Paris for only a few days, but it didn’t take long for my nose goblins to turn black. That can’t be healthy. And as many pedestrian deaths as we have here in Las Vegas, I still feel safer walking around Vegas than I did Paris.

    None of that would stop me from visiting again if I got the opportunity. I just know what to expect now.

  6. Paris certainly isn’t more expensive than London! If you don’t have an Oyster card, or forget it in your hostel room (ahem!) a one-way trip on the tube is 5 pounds!!! And when you convert everything in pounds to either euros or dollars, it starts adding up quickly! It’s true that Paris is dirty, and you have to know where to go for good, cheap food. The metro definitely needs a lot of work, and it would be nice if museums were free like they are in London.

    In any case, I love both cities, regardless of their faults!

  7. I went to Paris for 5-6 days in 2007. I stayed near Effill Tower. The room rent in that area was about Euro 175 per night. I found that area very beautiful. One interesting experience, I wish to share. One fine morning about 5.30 am, I thoght of going out of the hotel for jogging. To my surprise, the hotel guards, stopped me and requested to stay inside. I was politely told that the “safe” time to venture out is after 6- 6:30 am. The hotel staff also asked me to ” be very careful” in subways. I also saw a torn French flag atop a building. This was strange… But despite of all this, it was a memorable stay.

  8. I quite like Paris actually, despite the fact the people there pretend they don’t speak English.
    They’re so proud of their language and national identity.
    I can tell this from Eurovision!
    Eurovision is a good platform for countries to showcase their cultures and languages.
    But most countries choose to sing in English, of course, for the obvious economic benefits.
    France always sings something in French. When France announces the final results, they also say it in French!!!

  9. Zhu:
    Love your photos! they make me want to go there…
    But then I realized that you as a french don´t like Paris, and that gave me another vision of the “Dream City”. In fact, I’ve appreciated your previous posts where you told us about every culture you’ve known. It´s like we’ve travelled with you.
    Thank you, and keep having fun!

  10. I have heard others voice the same opinions about Paris. The problem is that Paris is where you have to go to see the stuff that Paris has. Paris is on my bucket list but for some reason is not something I’m just burning to do.

  11. Haha. I have this idea that if ever I visit France, I would skip Paris altogether and just head down south to the medieval castles. I agree that there are locations around the world that people go to just because it is well-known, and because of that, the prices get hyped and inflated.

  12. @Cynthia – I know, you can find cheaper places. I refuse to pay 4euro for water anyway! 😉 We didn’t stay long in Paris unfortunately, lack of accomodation…

    @Jorge Mora – Oh, we had the same problem! I’m used to share a pizza in Canada and in both London and Paris it is frowned upon!

    @khengsiong – Most Asian cities are quite polluted, I remember Beijing… it was bad!

    @shionge – Parisians are actually nice, especially if you try to speak a bit of French, even if it’s just “bonjour”. Most young people speak at least basic English as well.

    @Kirsten – Pollution was bad in both Paris and London, I noticed when I took a shower after a day out the first day — the water was grey!

    @Soleil – I think London used to be more expensive but because the Pound crashed, everything is undervalued right now. We were lucky, we got good deals everywhere thanks to a strong Canadian dollar!

    @sir jorge – Thank you!

    @Sanjay – Thank you for your input! I personally feel safe in Paris but that could be because I’m French, so I know how to assess “danger” if danger there is. Some far suburbs are less than welcoming but there is no reason to go there anyway. Other than that, it’s just basic commonsense, such as paying attention to your wallet and such.

    @London Caller – But most young French do speak English, even if they may not practice often. They usually don’t mind speaking a foreign language 😉

    @Karla – Thank you very much for your input and praise!

    @Yogi – Paris is definitely a place to visit and experience but as a French, I just wish they would make it a bit more welcoming for tourists.

    @Linguist-in-Waiting – That would also be a good idea. We always spend a few days in Paris because it’s nice and convenient but I wouldn’t stay for too long.

  13. Beautiful pics! And it’s great to hear. I wouldn’t want to really visit Paris with P, maybe a girl friend, but I do long to see other parts of the country more!!!

    I must say in comparison, a sandwich here in Victoria is $8, and water another $2.50 to $3, so Victoria is close behind in prices! We nearly never eat out because of the prices here. Sushi is pricey now too, nearly $12 to $15 for your average salmon roll, california roll. But our streets are clean and rather safe even if you run into a few not so clean people.

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