5 Things You’ll Love & Hate about Paris

By Jason Rittle 9/17/2019

Paris, France is one of the most, if not THE most visited city in the world. Whether it is getting a view of the Eiffel Tower, strolling along the Champs-Élysées, or enjoying a cup of coffee and people walking at a charming café — it’s hard to imagine Paris as anything other than some cultural and romantic utopia. The fact is, no city is perfect and Paris is certainly no exception. I went to Paris in 2018 and although I absolutely enjoyed my time, there were plenty of things that made me relieved to be back in the US with certain things I had always taken for granted.

The Hate:

1. Dog Poop

Although recent measures have been taken to put forth a bit more effort at tackling this issue, dog feces on the street remains a widespread problem in Paris. It’s no secret that Parisians love their dogs, but cleaning up after them seems to be neglected by many residents. So take my advice and refrain from wearing sandals and watch your step when strolling along the Champs-Élysées or some other busy sidewalk.

2. Outdoor seating in Cafes and Bistros cost more.

If you are looking to have breakfast or a small meal at a casual café or bistro, you will be surprised by a slightly different set up. GENERALLY speaking, the expectation is to seat yourself and summon your server when you see them to take your order. Sitting outside will cost more because it will require your server to walk more. You probably won’t know this until you get your bill and see a higher service charge than if you were to have sat inside closer to the bar. Talk about nickel-and-diming you. But I guess you pay for the experience not just the food right?

3. Temperamental Metro Tickets

For a city with such an efficient and extensive rail system, the manner in which you pay is quite antiquated, a waste of paper, and leaves little room for a more 21st century option. Metro tickets are either purchased from an electronic dispenser or directly from the customer service window at certain stops. What you get are these small rectangular pieces of paper with a magnetic strip that you will be tempted to put in your wallet, purse, or stick in your pocket with your cell phone. What they don’t tell you is that the magnetic strips are very sensitive and often demagnetize if placed too closely to things such as your phone, keys, coins, or even at times other tickets!

The city of Paris is slowly phasing these tickets out in favor of a digital app that can be used to scan tickets at the turnstile. In the meantime, be careful where you put these annoying pieces of paper or you will find yourself in line at customer service trying to convince employees that you already purchased them and need a replacement at no charge.

4. Strict Meal Times

The French adhere to very strict meal times and often do not eat outside of these hours. Breakfast is rarely eaten but many boulangeries and cafes will be open early. Lunch is generally eaten anywhere between 11AM and can go until as late as 3PM. Dinner is generally eaten as late as 8PM. This means restaurants will regularly close outside of these hours, leaving unsuspecting tourists bewildered at the lack of places to eat. This can get quite annoying for the average American who is used to eating whenever they feel like it and is accustomed with the abundance of 24 hour establishments.

If it’s 4PM and you are hungry, either find a creperie on the street or eat at Mcdonalds or Starbucks. Traditional French places will force you to wait until it’s the “proper” time for eating.

5. Very Few Public Toilets

Other than these self-cleaning toilet kiosks you see where it takes 5-10 minutes to clean itself between uses, leaving a line of 10 people waiting to use it, there are very few public restrooms in Paris. Some public restrooms may exist but require a fee of at least 2 euros to enter. Best advise I can give you — if you really need to use the restroom in Paris, either go back to your AirBnB and use it there or find a self-cleaning toilet and share a turn with everyone you’re traveling with. It will be worth 15 minutes of your time to set your bashfulness aside.

The Love:

1. No shortage of great food

My heart absolutely bleeds French food. If there is anything they have perfected, it’s their culinary arts. They sure know how to eat in this country and you will find yourself indecisive at all the great choices to eat. Boulangeries are never in short supply of fresh bread and every single bite of food you will find here is meticulously made with the utmost love and care. If traditional French food isn’t your thing, there are great Middle Eastern places to choose from. The Jewish Quarter has some of the best falafel wraps I’ve ever had in my life. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for a list of recommended eateries.

2. Untouched Architecture

One of the things that Paris benefited from during WWII was the preservation of it’s ancient architecture. France’s early surrender during the war spared the city from destruction. This is why when you walk down the streets of Paris, you will notice hundreds of years of carefully detailed architecture has been well preserved just as they were when they were first built. The architecture in Paris is simply breathtaking.

3. No-Rush Cafe Culture

As stated in a previous article on French restaurant customs, there is absolutely no rush when visiting any eating establishment in Paris. French people pride themselves on taking their sweet time to enjoy a meal, a cup of coffee, and good company in public. Once you’ve secured a seat at a cafe and ordered your coffee, you are under no obligation to leave after any undisclosed amount of time nor will waitstaff ever try to pressure you into leaving. This is one of my favorite parts of dining out in France — you can literally spend 2 or 3 hours at a cafe just relaxing and taking in the atmosphere and noone will bother you.

4. Pedestrian friendly

Paris is a very walkable city. That isn’t to say you will feel like you want to take off your feet at the end of the day — but sidewalks are plentiful and many of the famous sights are within a short metro ride away or within walking distance. Metro stops are everywhere and renting a car is not only unnecessary but not on my recommended list unless you want your stress level to skyrocket. Your feet will be your best friend in Paris so wear good shoes.

5. Romantic Culture

It’s not just a cliche. Unlike more “masculine” cities like New York City or Los Angeles, Paris has a very feminine vibe to it. Everywhere you will see couples not too modest to show their affection for one another. Don’t feel shocked. The French are not modest when it comes to public displays of affection. Passion and romance is the soul of this city. Take in the stunning views, the delicious food, and the beautiful parks and enjoy the beauty that IS Paris!

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