This year, I had the great pleasure to finally visit a place I have been wanting to go forever… Paris. I had heard that the people were rude and that everything was overpriced, both of which I found to be untrue.
Of course there are incredibly expensive places to go in Paris, as much as there can be in a city of its size, but if you look around there are affordable options anywhere. We found insanely delicious Croque Monsieur sandwiches for €2 and if you try walking from one place to another you’ll find that Paris is actually quite small and you don’t need to spend so much on transit. We spent the day at the Louvre and ended up walking the length of the Champs d’Élysées until l’Arc de Triomphe. My legs hurt, but it was an amazing day (in case you’re wondering, I DID walk the stairs to the top of l’arc after parading around the Louvre all day and hobbling down the Champs d’Élysées… it took a few days to recover, but definitely worth it). The other amazing thing about walking? You get to discover all of the « non-touristy » places.
In terms of people’s attitude, I found the people in Paris to be quite lovely. From the man who rented us our apartment, to the all of the wait staff that we encountered to the man at the metro station who explained everything to us so we didn’t overspend on our tickets and gave us a map that saved us more than once, I have never felt more welcome or well received to be honest.
I have to say that one of the things I think that helped a lot was the fact that I speak fluent French. I realized on this trip that being able to communicate with the people is a fundamental part of fully experiencing a place. We spent two days in Berlin in the middle of the trip to check out this monumental city and catch up with a couple of friends and I have to say that I felt the divide because my German was so weak. People do write you off as a tourist a little more easily, although I’m sure if we had spent more time there, we would have found our niche. And it was all the motivation needed to start learning German finally. I can’t say how long it will take to master German (it is considerably more complex than English) but for sure when I get close I will go back to Berlin to see how much the city will change when I can talk to people.
Upon returning to Paris, we stayed in Monmartre and had a lovely couple of days going to Sacre Coeur and le Tour Eiffel, doing all of those cheezy touristy things that people find so cliche. It was lovely and so was Paris. The bread alone could keep me there for a year (don’t even get me started on the truffles).
Spending evenings along the seine, eating delicious food and seeing the art that I’d only ever previously seen in books was in NO way overrated. Paris was a dream… I feel like I could stay there forever. It completely stole my heart.