Paris was a city that greatly amazed me & greatly disappointed me at the same time. First of all, I stayed at a hostel in a very sketchy neighborhood, Belleville, & didn’t feel safe at all. It felt a bit like Chinatown because of all the Chinese restaurants that lined the neighborhood. There were a lot of immigrants who didn’t even seem to speak French & walking from the train station to find the hostel alone wasn’t fun. But after I was able to meet up with friends, things got a lot better. Paris is wayyyy more similar to New York than I would have ever imagined. I went to the Belleville Park after unpacking at the hostel & it was just like Central Park except with roses. The city was dirty & the metro was old & smelly just like New York. You probably think I hate Paris by now but I don’t, I was just expecting more of the Paris from photos; silly me for having such expectations. Of course the 1st thing I did the next day was shop in Paris. It’s weird but shopping in Paris is not the same as shopping anywhere else; it’s really fun & you feel super couture & chic because hello, you’re shopping in Paris, the fashion capital of the world! But the Eiffel Tower – that was the highlight of my trip; pictures don’t do it justice, it is the most magical thing to see it light up at night.
I was able to picnic on the lawn by it during the day & have quiche Lorraine for the 1st time (best quiche I’ve ever had), & see it light up at night with a free concert as well. It was some well-known French artist who sung in English & played alternative music which was quite enjoyable. I was able to go to the Louvre and the outside triangle was soooo beautiful! I got to see it when the sun was setting which was great because there weren’t many tourists there at that time since the museum was closed. Then I actually went in during the day & if any of you are trying to go there just to see the Mona Lisa, DON’T, you will be highly disappointed. The Mona Lisa is the tiniest little painting that people will try to trample you over getting a photo. Some guy had a seizure in the middle of the floor & the second he was starting to be taken away people swarmed like crazy to get to that middle section for photos. The rest of the museum was full of Jesus & I really love Jesus but there’s only so many paintings of the same scene you can take before you’re bored. I got to see a lot of sculptures too but I guess I’m more of a modern art person, which I didn’t really see any of.
My friend & I were just strolling the streets of Paris & we came across many churches that were gorgeous but all started to look the same. When we came across Notre Dame, we didn’t even know it was Notre Dame until we got to the front of it. The outside architecture is amazing with such detail & the stained glass is breathtaking but a lot of the windows are so high up that you can’t really see them. And let me say how disappointing the mass was there. I was expecting an angelic, operatic choir on the upper level of the church with an organ player that reverberated throughout. There was 1 singer, & a very low volume organ. To make it worse, tourists were allowed in during the mass which I thought was completely disrespectful. As I’m trying to appreciate this service, I see tons of flash photography of the altar & hear people talking. For some reason, I thought the mass would be in Latin because it’s 1 of the most known cathedrals in the world, but it was in French so I didn’t understand much of the sermon at all. Not that I would understand Latin but I guess I was expecting a more legitimate traditional Catholic mass & especially no tourists.
I got to visit the Pantheon which I didn’t even know was a crypte, but it was really cool to see the graves of Marie Curie, Victor Hugo, & Voltaire along with other famous French people (although I only knew the professions of like 2, the rest I just recognized the names). I would definitely recommend for anyone to get the museum pass if you’re thinking of going to any museums because you skip all of the lines & of course get in everywhere for free. I also visited the Arc de Triomph which was many steps up but the view at the top was definitely worth the workout. Lastly I saw Luxembourg palace & the gardens; unfortunately you couldn’t go inside the palace but it still looked pretty from the outside & the gardens were nice, though very spread out. It was almost like a park rather than a garden to me because when I think of a garden, I think of a bunch of flowers really close together- here they were organized far apart and perfectly planted.
I definitely spoiled myself when it came to the food in Paris. I tried tons of croissants of course which were delicious as well as the famous macarons from Pierre Herme & eclaires from L’eclaire de Genie. And yes, they were the best of the best. I tried escargots which surprisingly tasted just like mushrooms & were not bad at all! I had French onion soup (amazing) & beef bourgignon with crème brulee & gelato by the Seine. I also treated myself to a Croque Madame on St Michel as well as a glass of Kir for 10 euros (thought it was a bottle, but no I spent 10 euros on A GLASS of champagne but I felt classy doing it). Lastly I tried duck with a glass of rose & I would say I feel guilty about pigging out but then I realized walked 20 miles in those 2 days so I don’t feel as bad 😛
Lastly I will talk about my hostel experience. There are lots of rumors that hostels aren’t clean & aren’t safe. I must say the opposite because my hostel room was very clean & I didn’t feel uncomfortable with any of the people in it, but maybe I just got lucky. I did however have this rude Filipino woman for the 1st 2 nights. She answered her phone at 3 in the morning & started talking really loudly to her boyfriend or husband for 2 hours. Then at 6:30 am on the dot the Finnish guy woke up & what does this woman do? Turn on the light & start playing a video on her phone of someone singing. Ashley & I were pretty annoyed but it could have been worse.
Overall, it was a very adventurous & expensive weekend but why would I hold back in Paris, the city of my dreams?! Turns out it didn’t quite meet my utopian expectations but I still enjoyed the city greatly & there was a lot of things to do, which I did almost all of them 🙂
Some more random things about France/Europe:
– French people don’t pronounce “oui” like “wee”, rather they pronounce it like “way”. It’s weird I know but I have definitely noticed it & I’m pretty sure they can tell who are tourists when they say “weee weeeeee”.
– It’s socially acceptable to make out hard core in public here. No such thing as “PDA” rules & I’ve seen many couples do it; it’s kinda weird coming from the US where it’s looked down upon to be super affectionate in public.
– The sun rises at like 5am & sets at 11pm. Which is absolutely wonderful.
– I went to a contemporary dance show which was lovely. It was these 2 guys who had something on their arms that when they move them, it created a glowing picture on a screen. They drew things from fish & jellyfish to babies & spiders. They also did this really cool end scene where they would freeze in a bunch of different poses that would stay on the screen & then drew fire, & it ended up creating a hell scene. Anyways, the show was supposed to start at 9:30 but we had difficulty finding it so we got there at 10. No worries though, the French are always late so it started right when we got there (perfect for my timing since I’m always [fashionably] late).
– If someone comes up asking for money, don’t even make eye contact or say no or else they’ll know you’re a tourist & keep harassing you. Just be totally rude & ignore them.
– Paris is the capital of fashion & I don’t know if it’s because I was looking at tourists but I was thoroughly unimpressed with the fashion there. I thought people in Lille dressed much better than Paris!