Life is but a dream in Paris. It breathes romanticism — and I don’t mean the era. The city is beautiful from every angle (as long as you look beyond the dirt), the food is outstanding and there is charming intimacy around every corner.
But don’t get me wrong :: I didn’t love everything about Paris. In fact, there’s a handful of things I hated. Six, to be exact.
6 Things I Hated About Paris (and 5 Things I Loved)
1. I hated the Palace of Versailles.
Admittedly some of my favorite photos from France were taken at the Palace of Versailles. But the experience itself was nearly excruciating. There, I said it! After buying tickets to the tourist attraction online the night before our visit, we still waited in line for two hours before entering, then were herded through the palace halls like cattle. Most of the anticipated awe was replaced by claustrophobia.
But I loved the architecture in Paris.
Throughout Paris the architecture was phenomenal. Not just the masterpieces like the Notre Dame but the regular, everyday apartment buildings that lined the streets. I had to stop myself from taking a picture every ten steps because I found every building, every door and every gate to be beautiful.
2. I hated the Paris Metro.
The Paris Metro is one of the densest subway systems in the world, transporting more than 5 million passengers per day through 245 stations in the city. That staggering number of people explains how disgustingly dirty the metro is, which is understandable, but besides being clogged with gritty grime, the metro is a mess of mismatched tunnels that are often hard to understand. Needless to say, it was easy to get lost.
But I loved the food, even in the metro station.
Many people told me that food in France wasn’t that good. Well, those people are nuts. :) Every place we ate, from the bakery tucked away in the metro station to the random café on the side of the street and even the Japanese-fusion bakery, it was amazing. Snails, octopus, macarons, green tea muffins, Belgium waffles (those aren’t even French!), everything was delicious. Ok, with one exception: the ramen wasn’t what I expected.
3. I hated the tourists.
There were so many of them — everywhere — and they walked so slow or were so annoying. I realize the irony in that I’m a tourist, but really, there is no need to hold hands and take up the entire sidewalk while walking slower than my 92-year old grandma. Please try harder. Thank you.
But I loved the people of Paris.
The locals, however, have this funny reputation around the world as being terribly rude. So many people warned me before my trip that Parisians are stuck up. But honestly, Parisians are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met while traveling. One cab driver nearly drove over a curb (and almost injured some pedestrians in the process) just to get me to the opera on time.
4. I hated that everything required waiting in line.
We waiting in line for more than two hours to get into the Palace of Versailles. The Catacombes required roughly 2 hours of standing; the Notre Dame’s quick-moving line only took a half hour, even though it looked long. By our third day in Paris, we joked that Parisians must love standing in line because everything required doing so. And it sucked.
But I loved the city’s amazing history.
Paris has been known for its arts and culture since the 12th Century. Walking through the city conjures images of episodes from history, and while the past isn’t as apparent as it was in Toledo, parts of it peek through in certain areas. One of those places was the Catacombs, where the remains of 6 million people were buried in the 18th Century. Amazing!
5. I hated that our to do list was dictated by tourist traps.
There are so many famous icons in a city as celebrated as Paris, from the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Troimphe, and we felt like we had to see them all with our own eyes, even if it was just to say that we did. On one day of compacted touristy sightseeing, we got off the metro to see the Moulin Rouge windmill, snapped a few photos and jumped right back on the train. I drew the line at seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre and refused to step foot in the museum.
But I loved the cafés with outward-facing outdoor seating.
The best moments in Paris were when we were far from the touristy traps and the annoying people selling mini Eiffel Tower statues, immersed among the locals enjoying the energy of France. Often we’d find ourselves in these moments while sitting on a patio at a little café with all its seats facing the street, perfect for people-watching. We’d sit for hours without ever being pressured to leave and we’d sip on rosé wine while taking in the spring air. Those are the moments, more than any, that I loved about Paris.
6. I hated that I had to leave Paris.
And those moments made me wish that I didn’t have to leave Paris so soon. That I could stay a week, or maybe a month, more. I’d be completely content wandering her streets and tasting her sweets day after day, stumbling upon street musicians and flower stands bursting with life; reminding me that the simplest pleasures are what make life so beautiful.