Let me tell you about the first time that I ever went to Paris. It was my very first time overseas. I was meeting my dad in London where he was for a work trip. We thought it would be fun for me to come visit and play tourist for a few days with him. And as the eager traveler that I am, I wanted to add a few days on to visit Paris and get to finally check it off my bucket list. As someone who used to speak French living in Montreal as a kid, Paris was always kind of on my bucket list for that main reason. And hello, it’s Paris.
Let me be honest, I arrived in a brand new city where I did zero planning or research. Plus, this was pre-Uber days as well. It rained most of the time and I wasn’t prepared with the right clothes (not sure how that happened considering I was going to London right after). Long story short, I really didn’t love it. I didn’t even like it. I found myself struggling to find taxis and figure out where I wanted to eat or explore. And I ended up sleeping in on my one real full day thanks to the jet lag and not knowing how to properly avoid it. Safe to say I had many lessons to learn about international travel and now like to think of myself as a bit of a pro after all these years.
The one thing I remember eating and loving on this inaugural trip to Paris, was a chorizo and goat cheese crepe in the Latin Quarter recommended by a friend. And I simply remember the buildings and architecture. After multiple visits back, I ended up falling in love with this city for many reasons. And thanks to spending an entire month there, I really got to live like a local. This truly made me fall in love with things I think tourists never get to experience much of. Random parks, marchés, and the pleasure of a slower pace and not really having an agenda to fit into a short amount of time. Here are some of the reasons why I j’adore Paris now and think everyone needs to visit at least once.
Visiting Paris soon? I have a 60 page guide to Paris, une journée indigo. In this guide includes tips to visiting and getting around, over 40 restaurant recommendations, boulangeries, cafés and more. I’ve also included all my favorite spots from museums, historical sites, parks and shopping. And lastly, 4 easy day trips to make from Paris. Ready to visit Paris like a local?
7 Things I Love About Paris
Every major city has its own architectural personality. And while Italy will always hold a special place in my heart, there’s something about Parisian buildings that make me swoon. I find myself looking up and snapping more photos of basically the same thing, endlessly. The architecture is known as Haussmannian and is the signature look of Parisian buildings. Some of the things I love about it are the intricate balconies, beautiful stonework, and the roofs are all angled at 45 degrees to bounce light onto the sidewalks. There’s simply nothing like it out of all the places I’ve visited.
The Light Is Magical
After learning that the roofs are angled at 45 degrees, I wonder if this is why the light in Paris is simply magical. Plus, many of the buildings are light in color like creams and beiges which allow light to bounce more. But whenever I am sitting outside as the sun starts to set and dusk is approaching, you truly feel like you’re in a painting. The best way to explain it is like being in a Las Vegas hotel. Truly feels like you’re indoors and the light is too perfect to be real, and the sky looks painted. Also, it stays light in Paris very late making it really enjoyable to explore all day long. In the spring and summer, the sun doesn’t set until 9pm or even 10pm in June and July.
The Affordable (and delicious) Pastries
Because there are boulangeries and bakeries on literally every corner (actually, multiple on every block) the pastry prices are insanely low. Plus, France’s high-quality butter and high-quality flour are their usual ingredients. Unlike here in the States…this means prices for the ingredients to make pastries are lower, and the demand for them, makes for a very affordable croissant. Just to give you an idea here that will make you just cringe, a croissant in Paris is 1.20€. And if you’re not familiar with the exchange rate, is roughly a 1:1 conversion to the dollar.
Here in the States, a croissant is usually $4.00. This is because there’s minimal competition, and the ingredients are more expensive. The pastries in Paris are just superior. Even a not-so-great croissant in Paris, is better than anything I have ever had back home. And if you’re visiting, I recommend two pastries a day. Grab them in the morning when the selection is better. Have one for breakfast, and one later when you need a pick-me-up. This is actually called a le goûter, in French! I talk about some of my favorite pastries and boulangeries to check out in my Paris guide here.
I love a walking city, it brings me great joy. My month stay proved to me that this may need to be my way of life here in the States. No decisions yet, but having an entire month of walking everywhere has really opened my eyes to what I’m missing. There’s this incredible feeling of just stepping outside your apartment and being able to walk to everything. Even if you’re just running a silly little errand. Or need a little fresh air. Instead of getting in my car to drive to the park to walk 3 miles on a path, I just get my steps in throughout the day doing absolutely anything.
So if you’re visiting Paris, know that you can easily get around on foot with ease. The city also isn’t super massive and you can walk most of the popular spots in a day. This does mean you want to pack your comfiest sneakers. I only wore non-sneakers if I was just walking to dinner and back. Otherwise, it was sneakers 24/7.
Easy Public Transportation
This is subjective as I think any New Yorker and Londoner would disagree with this statement. But as an ATLien who has 2 train routes in the entire city that is roughly 12ish miles from top to bottom of Metro ATL, yes, Paris metro is quite efficient in my eyes. If you’re staying near a metro stop, I would encourage you to try it out. It’s roughly under 2€ for a trip and will keep you out of Uber’s that take forever in the inevitable traffic of Paris.
Cheap, Delicious, Wine
Wine is cheaper than soda sometimes. And that is not an exaggeration. Because Coca-Cola is imported, it’s a bit more expensive than it is in the States. And the wine is sometimes as cheap as 5€ a glass. And it’ll be some of the best wine you’ve ever had. Enjoy apèro hour with some affordable and delicious wine, before heading to dinner.
The Slower Pace
There are not a whole lot of people that you will find in Paris walking and eating at the same time. This city savors its slower pace of life and it’s something that Americans sometimes have a tough time with. But trust me, lean into it. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself enjoying your coffee and pastry sitting down and taking it all in before rushing off to a museum. Or having a picnic at the park, instead of eating on the go. And dinners are just longer and run later into the evening. I really enjoyed this but it definitely took some getting used to which says a lot about how fast-paced our lives are back home.
A few other things I absolutely love about Paris…
Fresh squeezed orange juice was readily available. I would walk to my grocery store almost every day to get a fresh squeezed orange juice for under 2€. These big orange juice machines would squeeze it right before your eyes. And it’s the best oj you’ve ever had.
All the dogs everywhere. So much so that I made this video.
Picnics at parks. This always sounds like a crazy thing to actually do but once you’re in Paris, it just makes sense. Grab a baguette, some cheese, fruit, wine, head to a park and voilà! Picnic! Everyone’s doing it. You can also be lazy, and just grab a “formule” which is basically a combo deal at a bakery and head to a park.
Stuff I Didn’t Love About Paris
Okay, Paris isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. There were a few things that I really disliked about Paris as with any place. It’s not perfect. But trust me, the above list outweighs it all. But these are a few things I was pretty surprised by after spending so much time in Paris.
So many cigarettes I just can not believe it. I despise the smell so this really bothered me. Everyone smokes and with all the outdoor tables at all the cafes, it’s just inevitable. If it really bothers you, opt to eat inside whenever possible (but eating on a sidewalk is just the best, so you gotta try it!). It’s just part of the culture here.
The Dog Poop
One of my favorite parts about Paris was ALL THE DOGS. Although, all the male dogs still had their balls which was a shock, honestly. Because of all the dogs, there’s also lots of dog poop on the sidewalk. I found this to be surprising as I feel like big cities like NYC don’t have this as a major issue. So just be aware when walking around.
Men Love To Pee In the Corner, Of Anywhere
I saw this more times than I care to admit. In both broad daylight on busy streets, and at night by drunken men. It made me realize how important it is to take your shoes off the second you get into your home in Paris. No shoes in the house (or hotel), period.
Not Your Usual Coffee Options
While I actually found it much easier to find milk alternatives in my recent month’s stay (and note all of the ones I found in my guide to Paris here), ordering coffee is a whole different ball game. I ended up ordering a lot of café allongé which is an espresso with a little hot water. I would also ask “avec un peu du lait” in French which means “with a little milk”. This was like a miniature Americano with a splash of milk. It wasn’t big at all. A big cup of coffee isn’t a thing here.
I’m not big on cow’s milk (lactose intolerant, but also don’t even like the taste so I dislike a cow milk latte even if I take a Lactaid pill) so I really didn’t want to do cafe au laits or cappuccinos which are more usual coffee orders. I found this article helpful on how to order coffee in Paris.
What do you love about Paris?
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