Paris; the city of lights, the city of dreams, the city of luurrve.
With accolades like that it’s easy to see why it settles onto a lot of travellers Travel List. Why wouldn’t you want to go to the city of dreams?! I mean, the streets are lined with glistening designer stores, sweet patisseries and filled with people dressed exquisitely, surely?
Well, that’s what I thought.
But people, I’ve been. Don’t get me wrong; I LOVED it. So much so that I’m going back just 6 months after my first visit. But be under no illusion that The City of Lights is all glamour and gloss. I’m here to give you the unromantised, de-glossy tips on Paris.
1. There are Patisseries everywhere, but only few are worth visiting
As an avid baker and a massive food fan, I’m not going to lie when I say that the main pull of Paris for me was food. Which is great when these cake caverns are on every corner – not so great when they are totally overpriced and you’re pretty certain you could do better at home in your own kitchen.
For top notch french fancies, make a beeline for Du Pain et Des Idées, about five minutes walk from République metro station or right across from Jacques Bonsergent. Grab yourself a L’escargot Chocolat Pistache swirl pastry. They are heaven on Earth.
2. The Eiffel Tower is great…for the first two minutes
Sure, the first time you see it the child inside squeals a little bit but the main problem with the Eiffel Tower is the tourists. If you are lucky enough to a get a hotel with a view of the landmark then all the better because you can get your fill of it without having to wade through the crowds and the usual tourist tack sellers because, no mate, I don’t want to buy a neon light up Eiffel miniature off you for five euro.
Of course the down side of admiring the classic landmark from a distance is that you miss out on wonderful tourist watching opportunities, including the ones that spend ages trying to get this photo:
3. Not everyone in Paris dresses like they live on the SATC set
Nope. In fact if you do venture up to the Eiffel you’ll notice that the majority of people are wearing running gear. Who knew people actually lived in Paris and have to use the streets to run in?!
Oh, and top tip: if you do decide to dress it up a little bit, don’t walk over the air vents in the streets in a skirt. Hot air will blow up and give your nunny a lovely little blast while showing your granny pants off to unsuspecting Parisian elders.
4. Parisian’s are actually really lovely people
One of the biggest myths of Paris for me was busted in the first day of us being there. Sure those working in public sector jobs having to serve ignorant tourists that can’t pronounce Bonjour properly are a little on the narky side, but that’s the same wherever you go. Everyone else we came across was lovely. Especially when the delightful Paris weather caught us off guard and soaked us straight through to the bone (my underwear took a full day to dry. No joke). They are always happy to give directions, share a brolly and chat to you about old Blighty. Yup. No haughty derision here.
5. Paris weather is not predictable AT ALL
The Paris weather has permanent PMS, I’m telling you. It rained, it shined, it hailed, was sweltering, was freezing, and I’m pretty certain there was even snow whilst we were there is September. When a week before a friend went and enjoy constant 30 degree heat. Thanks Paris, my 10kg carry-on allowance really thanks you.
6. The only shoes you will need are comfortable ones. Seriously.
Even if you use the metro, I can guarantee that you will walk a lot more than you think you will. In Paris I nailed 45 miles in 3 days. And guess what? My super cute pair of Flossy’s did not do my feet, back or knees any good whatsoever. Wear trainers, wear slippers, for god sake wear Crocs if you have to. Whatever you do, make sure your shoes are comfortable.
Actually I take that back: do not wear crocs. You should never wear those.
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