Why I Thought Paris Was A Bitch

Posted by:     Tags:      Posted date:  July 7, 2011  |  35 Comments
Insert Drawing :)

Let me first admit that I came to Paris, not wanting to like Paris. I knew it is an expensive city and I didn’t need yet another expensive city to be crazy about (i.e. like London or NYC). The thing is I knew a lot about Paris before I even came here. I knew that if I didn’t resist its charms I would regret it later. Sort of like when offered a burrito with extra jalapenos.

The thing about Paris is, it’s like a supermodel. Super hot but high maintenance. It’s unreasonably expensive in my opinion if you want to take full advantage of everything the city has to offer. Compare that to Krakow and Prague, and they seem like the equally hot sisters who just never got as famous.

Yes, Paris is beautiful. Gorgeous even. But still I think it’s overrated. Like Megan Fox in Transformers 2. But the tourists here seem completely infatuated with the city. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Eiffel Tower gets dry-humped a few times a day by overzealous tourists.

Perhaps if I had visited Paris when I first started traveling 7 years ago, I’d have a different opinion. Or maybe one needs to visit Paris as a couple. Or perhaps I just have a completely different idea of romance. (How is a huge metal tower resembling an asparagus romantic, again?)

Admittedly, I’m sure I missed out a lot by not knowing French or not having a background in art or history or not having any desire to spend 7-8 euros on a pint of mainstream beer. But I can see Paris as a very livable city, if you are earning a local wage. The public transport system and bike-sharing system is the best I’ve seen anywhere. It’s almost like the Parisian city planners practised on Sim City before doing the real thing.

And I can see the appeal of Paris as a vacation spot for tourists. There’s art and culture everywhere so it’s like a massive orgy of tourism. And I guess there in lies the problem. I stopped being a tourist about 6 years ago. My ideal way to travel now is to feel a city as a local. And when you try to do that in Paris, you feel like a pauper. Cheap in Paris is still expensive.

One stereotype I’d like to refute however is that Parisians are unfriendly. In the two weeks I was there, I found people pretty helpful especially considering I can’t speak any French apart from “Bonjour, parlez-vous anglais?”. I mean strangers weren’t exactly inviting me home for cups of tea, but I didn’t find them any more rude than people in New York, Toronto or London. What I did see was a number of rude tourists just ramble on in English without any introduction. And if they weren’t understood, they would just speak louder. They aren’t fucking deaf – they just don’t speak English.

Oh wait, I take that back. In Paris, people seem happy to just walk into you as if your invisible. (I guess that happens in London as well but when I’m there, I’m usually too inebriated to notice.) But I don’t know if this a deliberately unfriendly gesture or if all Parisians suffer from cataracts. You’d think after spending all that money on hipster black-rimmed glasses, that eye health would be a bigger priority.

Should you visit Paris? Sure, it’s definitely worth visiting. It’s unlikely that I’d go back but I’d glad I checked it out.

If you’ve been to Paris, what did you think?

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I'm a wanderer, couchsurfer, writer, illustrator, uncoordinated dancer, unwitting minimalist, party enthusiast, free hugger and now a crewman. Follow me @roymarvelous .................................................................................................................... Also, find out how to work on cruise ships. Or check out the new T-shirt & Card store.



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35 Comments for Why I Thought Paris Was A Bitch

Thomas

Whilst I agree with a fair bit of this, Paris being good for tourists and all the monuments and many people go for culture and to take a picture of the Eiffel Tower whilst complaining about the expensive beer and food (most of which is bought right next to the tourist spots).

Many people only scratch the surface of the city, Paris' charms for me do not come from its 'cultural giants' with their thronging crowds but the Paris that lives behind the scenes, the tiny tucked away cafe's where coffee is cheap and palatable, the small family run businesses that are off the beaten track, buying jam and bread and some wine and sitting in a park the bistros with Formule (set) menus where you get a glass of wine with each of the three courses in your meal. For me Paris is more a city of food and wine and discovering the hidden secrets.

Perhaps I have these feelings as I have visited Paris often since I was a small child and as such I have 'done' most of the culture. As you say the lack of the language can be a speed bump but as you also say as long as you use even the tiniest iota of French the locals will be helpful and courteous, the barging thing however is something you get used to, people in Paris move fast and don't have time for people doddering along, which can be infuriating when you are trying to fid your way around an unknown metropolis.

    cruisesurfing

    Thomas, thanks for the comment and great points. Truth be told, if I was living in Paris (and earning euros) I would probably have liked it much more. Even despite all the hipsters ๐Ÿ™‚

Laura

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by Paris. I visited last year and went fully expecting to hate it based on comments from others. And while all the complaints I had heard about it were present to a certain extent, I didn't find it a lot different from other large European cities. Yes, beer is expensive in the touristy areas, and yes, people will be rude to you if you if you start yelling at them in English hoping your volume will help them to understand. We stayed quite far from the centre to save money and one of my favourite days in Paris was spent just wandering the streets around the hostel. I found a small grocery store where I stocked up on some cheap picnic supplies, had a really nice half English/half French conversation with the girl working there and spent the afternoon eating and reading in a quite park. Paris has so much more to offer than just the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre!

    cruisesurfing

    One thing I regret not doing was having picnics. I saw lots of locals doing it, as well as enjoying wine out in the public. Definitely a bonus.

thetravelpacker

I liked Paris but got into waaay too much trouble while there. It seems like every night there was either a gang of kids threatening to kill us (apparently we hit on their mothers) or some crazy hashish dealers busting into the hostel and scaring everyone. It may have been the area I was staying in or the fact that we routinely drank a couple of 1 euro bottles of wine a day (each). Either way, I'll probably go back there one day (with money) and do all the stuff I couldn't afford to do (like go up the eiffel tower and drink wine in an establishment as opposed to on the street.) Nice post btw. During the busy season there is an 8 hour queue to dry hump that metal asparagus.

    cruisesurfing

    I think even if I had money, I prefer to drink wine on the street. Maybe not 1 euro wine tho…3 sounds resonable ๐Ÿ™‚

Robyn

I've been to Paris twice. The number one thing I remember about my trips were that the subway smelled like piss. I don't know about everyone else, but for Paris being "the city of love," the smell of piss isn't really all that much of a turn on for me. But hey, whatever floats your boat.

It doesn't help either that the last time I was there a bunch of teenagers were yelling French profanities at my friend and I from across the subway platform, not realizing my buddy could understand them. Or that we almost got hit in the head with garbage when someone threw it out the window onto the street. It was a great way to feel welcomed by the city.

    cruisesurfing

    So you're saying Paris is kind of like a fetish??
    Sorry to hear about your experience, sounds like you had some bad luck!

Dalene

Haven't been to Paris yet, but now when I go and see the Eiffel Tower, I am sure all I will think about is the funny smell of my pee after eating asparagus. Thanks for that. ๐Ÿ™‚
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    cruisesurfing

    Haha, I guess I'm sorry ๐Ÿ™‚ Btw, the locals called it an asparagus when it was first unveiled so it wasn't my idea!

Jenna

Roy, I love when you compare things to various types of women, usually involving relative hotness. It cracks me up.
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    cruisesurfing

    What. Doesn't everyone do this?

Grace

I have not been but its on my list. I just watched Woody Allen's movie a Midnight in Paris and it made me want to move there – perhaps to become a starving artist.
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    cruisesurfing

    I watched Midnight in Paris as well. Kind of funny as I definitely felt like a starving writer…

Mark

Hey guys : P

First off thanks for posting. I stumbled upon your page and understood right away your initial reactions to Paris. If you are only passing by for a week then there is a chance you might not be impressed by Paris, but keep in mind Paris is one very complex city. The history, the politics, the social issues, the bombardment of art. You'll have to live there to really understand the city or at least stay there for lengthy periods of time to appreciate its complexities.

I lived in Paris for three years and during the first year I had a love and hate relationship with the city. Once you start picking up the language and meeting french people then your take on Paris would be completely different. I myself would definitely go back one day to visit. It's a tough city to get into, but once you've put in the time and made an effort the rewards are ten-fold.

In a nutshell, I was ready to leave Paris but there's not one day that goes by that I miss wandering those streets and stumbling on something new. Even after threes years I was still learning and discovering something new about the city. And I think that's one of those magical and mysterious things that makes Paris, Paris.

    cruisesurfing

    I see your point Mark. I think if I was actually working there (and not a starving writer) I would have enjoyed more. Basically, in Paris you need money!

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ayngelina

My two cents are a foggy memory from when I was 16 but I remember the rest of France being so much more wonderful and somehow now I still have no desire to go back.

    cruisesurfing

    I loved the French countryside myself.

Mack

i've never been to paris, but thanks for the review. i'd like to go and see it for myself one day. "Hipster glasses:" priceless. btw you're quite the artist. i love your pictures.

    Roy Marvelous

    Thanks Mack ๐Ÿ™‚

Eat the Babies!

I loved Paris. Loved it loved it loved it. I didn't even find it that expensive. You can just get a carafe of wine and sit at a cafe for hours. Maybe get some bread and cheese, and look at the beautifulness of the most beautiful of cities. I was only there two days but as soon as I got there I knew: Parisians really know how to live.

    Roy Marvelous

    Well, now that you put it that way…

girlwithoutafixedpostcode

I loved Paris, i couchsurfed there for 2weeks.
Agreed the metro smells like piss, but i liked flirting with danger 'jumping over the ticket barriers'or rubbing up against people close enough to sneak in behind them in the ticket machines
I thought it was a bit pricey to travel, so naturally i walked the entire length of the place, jumping on a few buses and off again when an inspector came aboard

I love Paris and would like to move there in a couple of years, next to Edinburgh its my favourite city
And Parisian boys by all means surpass the English boys i am used to in every way

P.S..Knowing some french helps

    Roy Marvelous

    Fair enough. Maybe French girls just don't it for me ๐Ÿ˜‰

Zlatka Palkovicova

I have been in Paris several times, and I speak French. I have been there as a tourist, on a work trip, with locals. It's ok, I just don't get what is all the fuss about… From French cities, I prefer Lyon. I like in Paris that the guys look hot, though all the guys tend to look the same, so I am not sure if I went out with one of them, if I would not end up with someone else simply because I would mistake that one for another one…. Though it's the kind of hot I like. I am kind of missing the extra why to go there again and again. I can drink my expresso in Lisbon ;). But I like the crepes on the street. Well, thanks to globalization, I dont need to go to Paris for that ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Roy Marvelous

    Yes! There is like a Paris Hipster mold.
    Hehe, that would be funny if you went home with the wrong boyfriend.

Robert L. Aldrich

First off thanks for posting. I stumbled upon your page and understood right away your initial reactions to Paris. If you are only passing by for a week then there is a chance you might not be impressed by Paris, but keep in mind Paris is one very complex city

    Roy Marvelous

    Very good point. Had I stayed longer and earned a local wage, I think I would have grown to love it.

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Liv

I love Paris and France in general but my boyfriend expressed extreme dislike for Paris after we went for 5 days last year. Maybe it's a bit like Marmite: You either love it or you hate it? Ps. London is really bad for people smacking into your arm / shoulder as you walk along the street. Keep drinking!
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Natasha

I loved this post!! And I felt exactly the same way you did ๐Ÿ™‚ It helps to know I was not alone. I guess in my head I had a romantic image of Paris but it didn't feel that way at all and I was mildly disappointed that the Eiffel Tower is just a lump of steel at the end of the day ๐Ÿ™ Yep, I said it out loud.. just my opinion though, hopefully that doesn't offend anyone.

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