Bonjour Paris mon amour, je suis touristique. Yeah, that’s about it.

Paris – the city of lights, city of love, aptly named, aptly situated is a wonderful holiday destination. We’ve all seen Paris in all shapes and forms in our movies and in our books, but mon amours, that is nothing compared to what we see when we walk the streets of that grand old city.

I saw several cities on my Europe trip, but none as complete as Paris. Cool weather with lots of sunshine, bursts of nature, a perfectly organized metro system, shopping, food, landmarks and awesome architecture in every brick of every building.

paris autumn

arc de triomph champs elysees

Obviously being amongst the top 25 cities to visit in the world comes with its problems. The city is overcrowded (more with tourists than locals) and quite expensive. But there’s a lot more to Paris than you’ve probably seen online. My visit exposed me to some of it that I think is worth sharing.

What made me fall in love with Paris

Food

Of course the croissants, the crepes, the macaroons top the list. There is no doubt about the authenticity of these famous French foods from Paris. Whether you buy it from a fancy restaurant on Champs-Élysées or from a 2×2 stall on the outskirts of the city, food from Paris has a different taste altogether. I am yet to taste a more delicious crepe in my life than the mozzarella crepe I had near the Place de Clichy metro station.

paul champs elysees

Street culture

I don’t know what it was about the streets that made the city feel so alive. Maybe it’s the ubiquitous french music from restaurants and street performers, maybe it’s the constant view of Eiffel Tower or maybe it’s the people. Whatever it is, that feeling of being welcome by the city (not the people) was very new and something I’d definitely go back for. I could be living in Paris by myself without feeling lonely solely because of how it lively it is.

Love in the air

Speaking of, Paris not just talks, it talks love – or louve as I like to call it in my French accent. Even though my travel companion was my sister, I could not help but sense the love that was in Paris’ air. It’s like someone sprayed a giant bottle of Perfume de Amour and I was breathing it wherever I went (yes, the movies and books chose the right city).

eiffel tower pose

What I’d like to forget about Paris

Scams

Although this was the story across Europe (probably everywhere except Dubai), Paris scammers were a lot more creative. It was our last destination in Europe so we were prepared but even then were unpleasantly surprised a number of times. Activists collecting “donations,” random roses as gifts, pickpocketing, overly helpful people, we encountered them all – out of which only the activists managed to fool us and I am quite proud of that.

Fake souvenirs

There are stores that sell authentic (read overpriced) Parisian souvenirs that are good-to-have. Then there are shady stores that sell the less valuable versions of the same souvenirs (I prefer these). And finally there are African men on the streets selling the 1 Euro versions of the same damn souvenirs. I bought multiple Eiffel Tower key chains, scarves and magnets from the streets as gifts because it’s still from Paris, right?

Hotel Eldorado

A comfortable hotel stay really changes the way you feel about your trip. Whether or not your tours were fun, if you don’t come back to a welcoming room, the trip gets exhausting. This was just my personal (horrifying) experience. Hotel Eldorado had 4.8 rating on Trip Advisor and I don’t know how many positive reviews, which is why we booked it for our stay in Paris.

Now either the world has really low hygiene standards or people from Dubai are way too pampered (it’s the latter, isn’t it). Decay disguised as vintage, the hotel has creaky wood flooring, grey carpets that may once have been colorful and wait for it….one bathroom per floor. The white walls and floor were also discolored like a smoker’s teeth and the shower curtains was definitely more than 20 years old. I wish we hadn’t blindly followed ratings before making a decision because this hotel considerably dropped my positive feels toward Paris. Every time I think Paris, I think shared bathroom down the corridor…

All in all, I think Paris is a beautiful city that deserves its own vacation time purely because of the (mostly positive) sensory overload that the city tends to give. The best time to visit is between July and September preferably with someone you love (cliche but needs to be said). So on that note, allow me to au revoir.

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I’m Siham - a 25-year-old Pakistani, born and raised in the UAE. Currently doing a boring desk job in Dubai - but my passion lies in reading, writing and motivating people.

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