When you talk about Paris to anyone, you end up getting a variety of options.
Some people might say, “Oh, I hate Paris. It’s dirty, it’s crowded, it’s too touristy.
Some people might swoon and say, “Oh, this is my favorite city in the world. It’s beautiful, romantic, and has the best food in the world.
I don’t know whether I like Paris or not, but it’s definitely a city that everyone should visit at least once.
I’m in Paris for the first time in 14 years. If you read my last post, “Falling in Love with Paris,” you’ll know that I love it here.
It was basically my first time going to Paris since I was 12 years old, so everything was new and exciting.
Here are my first impressions of Paris and some things you should know if you’re going there for the first time.
1. Parlez vous Engle?
The French are known for not speaking other languages, much like us lazy Brits. However, this is not true for Parisians, most of whom, especially the young ones, speak fairly good English.
If you ask someone, “Do you speak English?”, the answer will definitely be “No.” But this is because they don’t want to embarrass themselves with less-than-perfect language skills.
If you ask if they speak some English, you’re more likely to get a positive response.
2. Paris is stylish
Parisians are very fashionable. There’s a classic elegance that goes beyond fashion, and in comparison, it makes you feel like a well-dressed Heffalump. The way they walk, talk, eat, drink, smoke and breeze through the crowd is so sexy.
Wear stylish but casual clothes. Alternatively, you can shop until you get bored when you arrive.
3. Paris is sexy
Not only are the people sexy, but so is the city. From the beautiful buildings to the smoking bars and cafes, everything about it is full of sex appeal.
4. Parisians are slim
Parisians are not only well-dressed, but also have great figures. Both men and women look slim and very healthy. You might not realize this until you spot a tourist tottering down the street and they stick out like a sore thumb.
“Paris is the only city in the world where starvation is still considered an art.” Carlos Ruiz Zafon, “Shadow of the Wind
(The Shadow of the Wind is a great book for those who haven’t read it yet.)
5. Paris isn’t just a city for young people
I often think of London as a city for young people. Maybe it’s because I’m young, but people often get bored with London and end up moving away.
However, Paris seems to have a mix of different age groups, and it’s often the older people who find it most interesting. Many of them are impeccably dressed and often have quirky styles that make you want to follow them and find out more about their lives.
I know I sound like some crazy old stalker when I say that, but what I mean is, they look interesting and look like they might have a good story.
“In Paris, women were not considered attractive until middle age.” Peggy Kopman-Owens, The Mists of Montmartre
6. The street music is amazing
Street musicians are more than just street performers as they are in many cities. It’s not that buskers aren’t talented, but the musicians here are professional and take it to a whole new level. Bands and orchestras are often playing in squares and parks, and it’s well worth pulling out a chair, stopping and listening.
OK, this is strange, but there are no benches in the park, just chairs. Everyone he picks up two chairs (one for the feet) and drags them to the perfect spot to relax for a few hours. It’s actually more reasonable since you can sit wherever you like.
8. It’s easy to get lost
Paris is like a maze of narrow streets that intersect, twist, and turn into other streets without warning.
We recommend using Google Maps on your smartphone and dropping pins on all the places you want to go. You can use your phone’s GPS to track your location. It’s nice to have a map, but it’s completely useless if you don’t know where you actually are.
9. Paris is inspiring
There’s something about Paris that inspires me. This will make you want to wake up early in the morning and explore. But at the same time, I want to sit in the shade and write while looking at everything Paris around me. The mix of lively yet relaxing atmosphere will help you get the job done.
“People wonder why so many writers choose to live in Paris. I’ve lived in Paris for 10 years, and the answer is simple: it’s the best place to pick up ideas.There are great places to pick saffron, just like Italy, Spain and Iran. If you want to pick opium poppies, go to Burma or Southeast Asia. And if you want innovative ideas, go to Paris. You should.” Roman Payne, Krebscule
10. Paris is romantic
Last night, I went to Montparnasse Tower. At 210 meters high, this mountain offers some of the best views of the city and the sunsets are spectacular. And romantic. So sickeningly romantic. All around me were happy couples kissing, chatting, and murmuring sweet nothings into each other’s ears.
This is the city of love, so be prepared for some PDA. (If traveling alone, cover your eyes.)
11. The shopping
First of all, I don’t shop when I travel. You can shop in London, but why would you want to go shopping when you’re in a new and exciting place with so much to explore? But shopping in Paris is different. Every shop window is like a magnet, making you want to drool over the shoes, handbags, jewelry and clothes.
Don’t resist, get your credit card ready in advance.
12. Parisians aren’t rude
I know, it’s surprising, right? I don’t know where the idea that French people are rude came from, but I can honestly say that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone I’ve met so far has been nice and the people in town are polite and patient.
13. Paris is a city for night owls
If you think Paris is beautiful during the day, wait for the night. As the sun sets, the appearance of the city changes, and the Eiffel Tower lights up and sparkles. Cool cafes turn into even cooler wine bars, and candle-lit restaurants pop up on streets you never knew existed.
“Night had fallen, the lamps were lit, the tables near him were crowded, and Paris seemed to be saying this amidst the windows and the guts of the theater door and the muffled roar of the swifts: I started pretending to be like this. Unless you’re in a horse-drawn carriage, with money in your pocket, and on drugs, this isn’t the world for you.”
Henry James, Madame Mauve
14. So. Many. Museums
Paris is a paradise for museum lovers. We have a lot. (According to Wikipedia, there are 153 types!)
15. The architecture
You will not be surprised if I say that the building is beautiful. I like that many of the buildings are white, which makes the city feel brighter and cleaner than London, where everything is gray and dull. I think it helped that it was beautiful and sunny while we were in Paris. Honestly, everywhere looks amazing when the sun comes out. Even the mundane buildings are stunning, and you can feel that a lot of thought and effort has gone into each one.
To become a taxi driver, you don’t necessarily have to be good at driving or know how to get anywhere in Paris. You don’t have to be friendly, you don’t have to be nice, you don’t have to know how to count change.
Dear London Taxis, I love and appreciate you even more now!
Ah, French food! One of my favorite things in Paris.
One of the reasons the French are so slim must be the great food they eat. They don’t live on rabbit food, they just eat lots of fresh food.
Eat at as many brasseries and restaurants as you can and take a gourmet tour if you have time. I took the specialty food store tour today at Wonderful Time and it was amazing. I’ll write about that soon.
People in Paris walk quite slowly compared to what I’m used to in London. I’m not just talking about tourists here. Everyone seems to have a more leisurely swagger. It took me a little while to get used to it, but once I slowed down and headed to the Parisian promenades, I felt much more relaxed.
19. Paris is big, but not too big
Paris is big. There’s a lot to see and do, but it’s still small enough that it feels manageable.
It’s a walkable city, so unlike London, you won’t have to rely on public transport or taxis as much. After three days, I felt like I was starting to figure out how to navigate Main Street and managed to see the main sights.
I think 5 days in Paris would be perfect, but you can still have a great time in just a weekend.
20. They don’t eat frog’s legs and snails
It’s a superstition that the French live on frog legs and garlicky snails. When I asked the guide on a gourmet walking tour I took about it, she shrugged her shoulders and said she didn’t know why people thought they were eating them all the time.
I’m traveling to Paris on the Citadines as part of the Citadines Moments 30 competition. Four bloggers are competing in a “game”. If you liked this post, please vote for me here. Merci!