I’ve delayed writing this post, because I wasn’t sure just how to share about it. If you’re interested in all the pictures head over to Instagram. Paris was lovely…It was wonderful seeing all the buildings I’ve only read about, visiting the museums and standing before the works of Monet and Degas and VanGogh.
But there’s another side to Paris.
I still haven’t decided if my emotions have jaded the trip for me, coloring things more darkly than reality. The trip was a bit of a struggle. We stayed in an AirBnB in Montmartre, which ended up being an hour walk from the city center, and in a NOT very good neighborhood (we should not have been there).
The apartment was lovely and felt safe, but the neighborhood, and other neighborhoods outside of the city center…oy! There’s a reason why the movie Taken is in Paris. That said, I’m also hyper-aware of my environment, more so than most people (maybe I’m an enneagram 6) and perhaps that was part of it.
The food was surprisingly standard. We kept looking for good bread and pastries, but everything was meh. I did some google searches about where to get the best bread and croissants and was disappointed to find out that 80% of the city’s bread is commercially produced and the true artisan bakeries are few and far between. We did find one and the sandwich I ate was mind blowingly delicious (Maison Marache).
The city itself was rather dirty, and maybe that was because we weren’t in the touristy areas. There were a few moments when I felt I was in the movie, Ratatouille…we were eating dinner (curbside) one evening and saw a rat run across the street, and we had seen a dead rat walking along the Seine one afternoon. There was a lot of dog poop and a general smell of stale urine.
I’ve grown up visiting NYC regularly and know that it is not lauded for being the cleanest city in the world, especially the subways. So a “dirty” city doesn’t surprise me, Paris surprised me. It was significantly dirtier than NYC, than even the subway.
Several years ago Matthew and I had visited London on a long weekend trip, we had left Thursday night and returned Monday afternoon. We had felt that one more day would have been nice on this trip.
Paris we had left on Friday and returned on Thursday; it was way too long for a “weekend” trip. Unless you really love cities…a week in the city is not my idea of a grand time.
We had done one bus tour out of the city to the Normandy area to visit Monet’s home and gardens, as well as a jaunt to Versailles, and that was wonderful! I loved seeing the countryside and the other parts of France. It very much reminded me of home.
The language was not a barrier; I know for many that’s their biggest concern with visiting a foreign city. Most of the time when you’re talking to someone it is in a shop, so you can point and mumble your requests and figure it out. They want your money, you want what their selling: It’s in everyone’s interest to figure it out.
The big question everyone asks: Would you go back?
Yes, I would, but also knowing the things I would do differently. For me, the big thing with visiting a foreign city would be to pay the extra money and stay closer to the city center and tourist areas; not just for safety reasons, but also for convenience and not spending money on cabs/ubers. Also, to venture out of the city, I would definitely do more day tours or do an overnight bus tour.