As Dan and I prepare for our upcoming trip to France and Italy, I can’t help but reminisce about the last time I was in France. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know my family spent about two weeks staying with my grandparents in Chaumont back in 2014, and squeezed in a couple of days in Paris before flying back to the States. It was a trip that changed my life.
To some people, Paris is over-hyped, over-advertised, overrated. It’s not all that, they say. To each their own. I worried that, after romanticizing Paris and building it up for over a decade, I might be disappointed. What if all the naysayers were right?
I’m happy to report that was not the case. Paris was everything I hoped it would be, and I’m so ready to fall back under her spell in just a few months. It’s a place everyone should visit at least once in their life – especially if you think you’ll hate it! Try not to be charmed by the intricate details of the buildings, the avenues, and the history on every street corner. Here are a few reasons why I think everyone should visit Paris at least once.
#1 – The Food
Let’s start with the obvious. Great food is practically a hallmark of Europe, and Paris is no exception. While in the city, our limited budget meant filling up on the complimentary hotel breakfast and eating throughout the day at casual restaurants and creperies. I don’t think we ate a single bad meal in Paris, but my favorite was probably eating crepes on the run between climbing the towers of Notre Dame and catching a bus to the Eiffel Tower. And for those who can afford to add a bit of luxury to their trip, Paris is home to dozens of Michelin-starred restaurants.
#2 – The Monuments
Because you can’t go to Paris and not get a photo of the Eiffel Tower. My personal can’t miss experience is the eternal Notre Dame de Paris, but truly, there are so many iconic buildings to visit.
#3 – Step Back into the 1920’s
Artists have been trying to capture the essence of Paris for centuries. I’m a sucker for the era of Fitzgerald and Hemingway, and reading about Paris in the 20’s is enough to sweep me off my feet. Seeing some of the places mentioned in A Moveable Feast was a real treat, and better yet is feeling that sense of the la vie boheme still alive in many parts of Paris.
#4 – The French Women
Does this even need to be said? There’s a reason we in the states have a fascination with the casual-cool, effortless beauty of French women. From capsule wardrobes to French beauty staples like Caudalie, there really is nothing not to like. And while we’re talking about French people, the stereotype of rude Parisians is a little unfair. Like any major city, it has its share of scam artists and downright rude people, but the majority of the people we talked to were friendly and happy to share their city with us. From happy, joke-cracking shopkeepers to the Catacombs employees catering day-in and day-out to hordes of tourists, we were treated kindly and with more interest than disgust throughout our trip.
#5 – Beauty is Everywhere
When traveling, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the big sights, masses of people, and dizzying public transit options. Paris has so many beautiful sights, but for me it’s the little details that give the city that sense of je ne sais quoi. There is beauty around every Parisian corner, and finding beauty in the small things makes me feel so much more appreciative and alive. Plus, it’s heaven for this lover of beautiful doors!
#6 – History and Art
If your perfect vacation includes napping on a beach all day and whiling away the hours at all-you-can-eat buffets, maybe Paris isn’t the city for you. Now, I like a good beach day here and there, but my ideal vacation would be spent getting lost in a maze of charming streets and soaking up the local culture. Paris has no shortage of world-famous museums and historical monuments, each begging to be explored. If art and history are your thing, you certainly won’t be bored in Paris.
#7 – The Parks & Gardens
It is increasingly rare to find sprawling green spaces in metropolitan cities, but Paris is full of them! Over our two days in the city last summer, we only had time to stroll through the famous Tuileries gardens, but there are so many more worth mentioning. I love the relaxed vibe of a city that celebrates picnics in the park, the beauty of nature, and long walks to nowhere in particular.
#8 – The Parisian Attitude
Paris as a whole has such a relaxed vibe. Compared to major U.S. cities, where the mottos seem to be “Go, go, go,” and “More, more more,” it’s refreshing to spend some time in a city which values, well…taking some time! Here, it’s all about enjoying life. From lengthy, multi-course meals (and plenty of wine) to strolls in the park, to just breathing the city in, Paris is a great place to recharge and get some perspective on life.
Of course, Paris also serves as a fashion icon, and people flock to it from all over the world to see Fashion Week models and everyday people alike. Aside from picking up a few souvenirs and my fair share of wine, however, I didn’t do any shopping in Paris. I visited Paris for the sights, the food and the Insta-worthy photos, but I left feeling like I understood what it is that draws people from all walks of life to the city. There is something for everyone, from the brand-hungry fashionistas, to the future Hemingways, to the history buffs. Many people have tried to explain what it is that makes Paris, well, Paris. It is truly a city unlike any other, and if you ask me, it’s due to the French people’s emphasis on personal wellness and taking time to smell the roses, rather than rush about missing the beauty right under their noses. Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Take the time to breathe it in.