Saying Hello to Paris
Confession: I haven’t been to Paris yet. Let’s pause for a moment so you can all let out a collective shocked gasp. “No. Wait. What? Really?” you say.
Yes, it’s true. I hang my head in shame. Me, a so-called “woman of the world,” a travel blogger who’s traversed various parts of the globe has never been to Paris.
Technically, I’ve been to Paris but never really saw Paris. I’ve flown through the city a handful of times, excitedly glimpsed the Eiffel Tower from my window seat on the plane, but never once ventured outside of the airport. The last time I was at Charles de Gaulle, I settled for a morning cup of coffee and the most delicious of macaroons. This is as close to Paris as I’ve ever gotten.
But now, I’m finally heading to Paris in early June, as wanderlust calls for an escape from Berlin. I plan to walk through the city, drink copious amounts of French wine, do a street art tour, and hunt down some weird and offbeat experiences.
Overall, I’m excited about the trip but wonder if Paris will live up to all its hype? Lots of people told me that I’d love Barcelona and Milan, but neither city was for me. Getting robbed, waiting in endless queues, and paying obscene prices to see various attractions annoyed me.
Will Paris be the same?
Saying Hello to Paris
Why haven’t I ever visited Paris, the city of both love and light?
1) There Have Always Been Other Places
First off, I’ve never really felt that interested in visiting Paris. There were always other places that I wanted to go. Besides, I figured I’d get to Paris eventually, so no rush was needed.
Maybe it was the fact that I fell so in love with Italy, the first European country that I ever visited. My addictive personality brought me back time and time again. Can you blame me? Ancient architecture so beautiful that it doesn’t seem real, tomatoes so fresh that you weep, hot men (!) offering torrid love affairs, tiny villages where old women mop the cobblestoned streets each day, children heading to school dressed in smocks … I could write a novel about how much I adore Italy.
Later on, I discovered Eastern Europe, places that generally don’t draw in as many tourists. Krakow, Riga, Sofia, and of course, my all time favourite Budapest. That’s another city I can’t get enough of, and I find myself returning there at least once or twice a year. Then I got a taste of the Balkans, both Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Paris kept getting lower and lower on my bucket list.
The more I’ve travelled, the more I’ve come to like places that are more off the beaten path and less flooded with tourists. I especially enjoy visiting these places in winter, when there are even fewer people.
I’ll be saying hello to Paris during peak tourist season and on the exact same weekend that Eurocup opens, which France is hosting (which I did not realize until after I’d booked my flights). The city will be teaming with even more people than usual.
2) All the Hype Makes Me Weary
What else has caused me not to visit Paris? Everyone keeps telling me that I have to visit Paris and that I’m going to love it. I’m sure they’re right, but when somebody tells me that I must go somewhere, a rather childish part of me rebels and wants to hang out somewhere else, anywhere else.
When I was 15, my father had a 3-year contract in Paris. My parents thought that if we moved to Paris for the middle year of the 3 years, it would be a great experience for me and my sister and make the 3-year contract easier on the family. As a 15-year-old, I thought my parents were ruining my life, and I came here kicking and screaming. Four months into our time here, I had gotten a taste of life in Paris and never wanted to leave – so we never left!
For years now, the hype has been building, and I’m afraid that it may not meet my expectations. Not that I expect to be hit with a sudden bout of Paris syndrome (this is a scientifically documented phenomenon), but I don’t want to arrive there and be disappointed that my dreams about the city will not match the reality.
3) Waiting for That Special Someone
Lastly, I’ve never wanted to visit Paris alone. It’s a cringeworthy admission, if there ever was one, but one that’s unfortunately true — it’s a city that I always thought I’d visit with a boyfriend.
Although, I’ve had some significant relationships over the course of my life, for some reason, a trip to Paris with a boyfriend never happened, even though I’ve had these lifelong (very romanticized) dreams of having a French breakfast in bed, walking through the streets hand in hand, taking a picnic along the Seine …
I know it sounds bad coming from me as I’ve travelled the world alone and even encouraged women to take trips on their own to romantic European destinations. To date, I’ve never once hesitated in my desire to travel solo — I hiked the Inca Trail alone, spent a day in Tijuana fending off marriage proposals, toured around Italy for a month, and more.
Naturally, I’ll continue to keep up my solo travel, but Paris is a city that oozes romance, history, and beauty and almost demands that your time there be shared with someone. Sure, I could jump on Tinder and meet a local when I’m there, but it wouldn’t be the same and would feel like a forced, cheap experience.
Will I feel sad when I walk along the streets by myself, singing that cheesy Celine Dion song in my head? Perhaps I can make something fun of it and film a video, like this guy when he was waiting at the airport?
As I’m staying at a hostel, perhaps I’ll make some friends and have even more fun than I think I will. It’d be cool to watch one of the Eurocup games with a rowdy bunch of drunken soccer fans.
I thought about all of these things when I booked my flight. I hope all my doubts and fears are for naught and I’ll come to love the city as so many others do.
If you have any advice or tips for a first timer saying hello to Paris, leave a comment!