Paris: Rumors & The Truth

Paris: the city of romance and baguettes, one of the most visited cities in the world – and we hadn’t been there yet …

Paris is one of those places it feels as though you just NEED to visit.

For some people, it doesn’t seem to matter that you’ve been to other French cities – if you haven’t been to Paris, you haven’t been to France.

And besides, who doesn’t want to visit?

For me, when I think of Paris I think of the movies I’ve seen based there; all from children’s movies like Aristocats, Hunchback Of Notre Dame and Ratatoille, to romantic films like Amelie from Montmartre.

So coming to Paris was like entering a movie set, and then realizing that without the characters and storyline – it was a VERY different story..

I think Paris in particular, needs some time to let you get to know it.

But still, after a short time there we already had a lot of things to talk about …

Everyone Walks Around With Fresh Baguettes.

Walking down the streets in the neighborhood where we stayed, everyone was on their way somewhere – holding two baguettes in their hands.

Everywhere people were carrying baguettes, munching on one while at the same time holding another to bring home.

I don’t blame them; who would say no to a huge freshly made baguette still warm from the oven for 0.90 Euro? We had three of them in one day!

They Park Their Cars Anywhere.

We saw SO many cars parked randomly in front of pedestrian crossings, on the street corners, and in random places.

You never knew if the car was waiting for you to cross, or if it was just parked there – always look twice!

French Food Is Everywhere – Of Course!

In all the other countries we’ve been to we’ve had to dig a little to find some ”authentic” food specific for that country – in Paris, it was everywhere, and it was cheap.

Our challenge was to try ONLY ONE local dish – during our stay in Paris, local food was all we had: Croissants, baguettes, crepes – so good, so cheap, so French!

The People Were …?

I honestly can’t answer that question.

All those rumours about French people being stuck up, rude and not speaking English even though they could if they wanted to – well, I don’t agree, but I can understand where the rumors are coming from.

In many places the rumors are completely untrue, but in Paris?

Neither true nor false, I think just misunderstood.

It wasn’t that they were rude, they just didn’t care about strangers.

Most people seemed a bit hard to connect with, and us being there for only a day and a half we never felt that we got the chance to connect with anyone – we found it was harder than in other countries to get that eye contact, and to be noticed.

I left feeling as though nobody knew I was there, which is nobody’s fault – it’s just a feeling I had, perhaps one you get from those very big cities – where you are nothing to them but simply another tourist.

So in short, I have to admit that Paris needs some more time for me to give it an honest impression.

How about you? What are your thoughts, and impressions of Paris?

(photo credit: wlappe – Joe Shlabotnik – joanna855 – waitscm)

25 Responses to Paris: Rumors & The Truth

  1. Flora Moreno de Thompson June 26, 2011 at 5:50 am #

    “It wasn’t that they were rude, they just didn’t care about strangers.”
    This is a statement I could make about a lot of big cities I’ve been to. I felt the same way about Paris; I think I need to return again before I can decide if I enjoyed it or not. But I really like the fact that I can blend in and not be recognized as a tourist when I’m there. 

    • Adrienne @ShenVenture June 26, 2011 at 6:26 am #

      “But I really like the fact that I can blend in and not be recognized as a tourist when I’m there.”
      I’ve discovered there are pros and cons to this while traveling in foreign Asian countries where I don’t speak the language. Being asian, I can totally blend in while walking down the street or eating in restaurants, etc. But on the other hand, I don’t get nearly as much help or attention from staff and personnel when I don’t understand something and they look surprised and confused when they realize we’re native English speakers since they’re totally not expecting it. Just this past week, I got left behind on an English-speaking tour and had to run to catch up to the group. Since we had to sign-up for the tour and provide our names  and ID to the staff beforehand, I assumed they would try to account for everyone…but I guess they were just looking for those who didn’t “blend in”.

      • Nathan - As We Travel June 26, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

        hehe that is a fun story Adrienne, it must be very interesting to experience parts of Asia like that – with people thinking you are from there, but then understanding nothing of what they are saying.

    • Nathan - As We Travel June 26, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

      Hey Flora, thanks for sharing your comments. I agree that statement can be used to sum up the people in many bigger cities – I however didn’t feel that way in London.

    • Sofia - As We Travel June 27, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

      Thanks for sharing your impressions Flora. I agree, it’s nice to sometimes be able to blend in with the locals, although I didn’t much succeed with this in Paris :P

  2. Adrienne @ShenVenture June 26, 2011 at 6:01 am #

    For my honeymoon, I went to London, Paris, and Rome and disappointingly Paris was my least favorite, though perhaps the city I was looking forward to most.  I think I was disillusioned by Paris being “one of the most romantic cities in the world”, and while the Eiffel Tower at night is stunning, the Paris Metro has been dirtier and smellier than any other metro I’ve taken (except for BART in Northern California, but that’s a different category since BART isn’t a major city metro network). The food was good, but I wasn’t incredibly impressed (admittedly I had very high expectations). And it could be that we didn’t go to the right places. I spent four days there, but like you mentioned… maybe I need more time to get a better feel of the city. I wouldn’t mind giving Paris another chance. A trip free this time of disillusionment. 

    • Sofia - As We Travel June 27, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

      It’s so disappointing when the place you look forward to the most is a total anticlimax.

      I can relate a lot to what you’re saying, and perhaps we both went to the “wrong” places, but I think it mostly has to do with our expectations.

      Let’s leave expectations behind next time we give Paris another chance ;)

  3. Unexpected Traveller June 26, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    I can talk about the “French” attitude to tourists as I’ve seen and experienced it many times. Paris is worse than most other cities though … and I met some American tourists who would agree with me on this: http://wp.me/ppqxP-2R

  4. Jan Ross June 26, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    We loved everything about Paris but the best thing had to be the food. We ate in sidewalk cafes and bakeries but one of the best meals we had was sandwiches and bakery items we purchased in a grocery, took back to our room and ate spread out on the bed. We even had good food at the Paris airport!!

    • Nathan - As We Travel June 26, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

      There was really SO MUCh great food right?! :) We also enjoyed that part of Paris.

  5. The World of Deej June 26, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    I agree with the sentiment on the people. I’m used to living in an area where small talk is made with just about everyone. Not the case in Paris, or many big cities for that area, so it’s easy to think the people are being rude.

    We’ve been twice, and I’d have to say that Paris is my favorite city in the world. Sure it maybe a bit hard on the outside for tourists, but the history, food, and general aura of the city will make up for it…

    • Sofia - As We Travel June 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

      Great to hear that you love Paris! The French food really is something special, I like how much importance they place on good quality food.

  6. Tracy A. June 26, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    My husband and I spent two weeks in Paris last summer.  We rented a little apartment in the 3rd, right next to the Pompidou.  My husband proudly marched around with a baguette each morning, drank coffee in cafes, and had a lovely time.  I did not.

    I think I learned more about myself on that trip than on any other.  I simply do not like big cities.  I really, really don’t.  I’m also very uncomfortable in places where I don’t speak the language (and am made to feel badly about it–I did not have a great interpersonal experience)  I also don’t need to go places just because other people think they are great.  And all of that is ok.  It’s good that I didn’t like Paris–that means there’s room for one more person who does. 

    This summer, we’re going to Nova Scotia! 

    • Sofia - As We Travel June 27, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

      I couldn’t help but to smile reading your comment Tracy. I know what you mean, I’m not a big fan of huge cities either, I prefer being surrounded by nature.

      Have a great time in Nova Scotia, hope you like it better!

  7. Andrew - The Unframed World June 27, 2011 at 4:05 am #

    On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate these baguettes that everyone was consuming?

    • Sofia - As We Travel June 27, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

      If they were freshly baked and bought from a bakery – then 10 out of 10! The supermarket baguettes were much better than the rest of Europe, but still didn’t live up to “bakery quality”.

  8. Andrea and John June 27, 2011 at 4:24 am #

    We used to live there and love it! The people are often distracted – you’ll have to make an impression on them as a tourist to interact, but that’s true of most big cities that are used to having tourists. Paris is one of our favourite cities in the world – we’d jump at the chance to live there again =)

  9. Anonymous June 27, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

    Hey Sofia,
    nice article. After you leave paris and are feeling nostalgic, you should check out this movie, Midnight In Paris. I love how everyone walks around with a baguette. It’s so cheap and simple yet delicious. 
    Safe travels,
    Leif

    • Nathan - As We Travel June 27, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

      Thanks for sharing that movie Leif, we will make sure to check it out :D

  10. Ryan January 5, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    Hey, nice posts, even if i’m not agree with everything. I’m Parisian so I can tell you that yes Parisians can be rude, not only with strangers but also with french people comming from outside Paris.

    But seriously guys, if you come back in Paris i will be happy to show you the real one :)

  11. Agata Filiana May 13, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    I am currently living in France and I go to Paris quite often, I must say I love Paris with its atmosphere, there’s just something about Paris that will never bore you.
    And as for crepes Sofia, I must say the best ones are found in the area of Bretagne (Nantes where I live being one of them), simply the most delicious you will find in France :)

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