First Impressions of Paris

Paris is somewhere I had always wanted to go, but had so far avoided due to my student type budget in past years. I finally took my first steps onto Parisian soil last week however, and there were 10 things that struck me about the city…

The Architecture

Paris is often marketed as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and I can understand why at lot of people go there with these huge expectations, only to find that when they get there, it is just another big, bustling city, that is not all gleaming and shiny like the thought. I hear so many people complain about how Paris is not as beautiful as it is made out to be, and they may have a point, but I think people are judging Paris far too harshly. For a start, no city is beautiful everywhere! The fact still remains, that for every unremarkable piece of Paris, there are some stunning masterpieces of architecture elsewhere in the city. Particular highlights for me where the Notre Dame Cathedral, Louvre, and Mont Martre, amongst many others. All of these are on the tourist trail, so it’s not like they’re even hard to find, but each is a piece of architectural beauty! In the city centre, it was hard to keep walking and not discover another palace, cathedral, monument, or building that wasn’t stunning. I know this because on the first day I deliberately went out without a map. Every 2 – 5 minutes, I would turn another corner, and there was another stunning building, statue, or monument.

The Art

Paris is the home to many Art Galleries, Museums, and to many classic masterpiece paintings of the last so many centuries. One thing I will say is that when I was there, there seemed to more of a focus on the art of past generations, rather than a focus on what’s going on now, which I think at times may have stopped Paris from continuing it’s reputation as the home of Art for future generations. So much money seems to have been invested in restoring, displaying, and advertising art from past decades and centuries, that I feel Paris may be forgetting it needs to continue that progression of inspiring future masters of art into the next century. That being said, with the works of artists like Picasso, Matisse, Da Vinci, and many many more masters of art, I can understand why they would make it such a focal point, and it’s hard not to be blown away by some of it. Old classics to a young generation will always seem boring, regardless of how incredible they are. Paris, for me, has lost it’s reputation a bit for inspiration new art of the next generation, and although I am sure there are some incredible budding artists out there in Paris, I think if their works were given more of a focal point and investment, Paris will strike that balance between the masterpieces of the past, to the exciting works of the future…

The Traffic!

Traffic in Paris is mad! That’s all I have to say on that one… ūüôā

The Size

Paris is huge. It’s a major city not just in France, or Europe, but around the entire world! I usually do a lot of walking when I’m discovering a new city. Aside from being a great way to see the sights and get to your destination at the same time, it’s also a lot easier if you don’t quite feel confident finding your way around the local transport system to begin with (i.e. getting off at the right stops, changes in a foreign country etc). So the first few day while I was in the city, I walked, and I walked, and I walked! I didn’t realise quite how big Paris is, and needless to say they next day I was hopping on and off the Metro to try get to my destinations quicker, and ultimately fit more into my short time there. Nevertheless, I think it’s good to go walking in Paris and really get an idea of the size, and scale of the city.

The Language

French is a beautiful language. I used to hate learning it back when I was a school kid, and this is shown by my distinct lack of language skills whilst I was in Paris, but I do like to listen to it. Everything sounds beautiful when it’s spoken in French, and I couldn’t get enough of it whilst I was in the city!¬† Sometimes just sitting in a park listening to the people around me, without really knowing what they were saying, was one of the most beautiful and inspiring things about the city.

The Food

France is known for it’s culinary prowess. Everybody has heard of Frogs Legs, Snails etc, but to be honest I think for most local Parisian people, eating dishes like this is not the norm. I was lucky to stay with a friend while I was in Paris, and therefore get more of an idea about what the locals eat, and essentially it was very similar to what I eat myself in my home country of Scotland, except they eat more baguettes and croissants! I have no interest in eating Snails, or Frogs Legs. Neither do I have any interest in eating at extortionate Michelin star restaurants, where you pay 5 times what you’ll pay in an ordinary restaurant and they won’t even fill the plate. Food was therefore never going to be a big part of my trip to Paris, like it usually is when I visit somewhere new, but you can’t help but notice the sheer amount of Michelin restaurants here in the city.

The Hot Parisian Men!

As I mentioned above, French is a beautiful language to listen to. Couple that with some tall, dark, and handsome men, in what is often quoted as the most romantic city in the world, and you have a happy Runaway Jane! ūüėČ

The Parks

One of the best things about Paris that I found was that despite it’s size making walking everywhere sometimes a little hard, there are many picturesque parks dotted about almost everywhere if you need a rest, somewhere to chill, or hang out with your friends. Even though it was winter when I went, provided it doesn’t rain or snow, and you have a good jacket, then you can have lunch in one of the many parks all year round. Each day I spent out sightseeing, I would also have lunch in one of the many parks that Paris city centre has to offer. Aside from being quite tranquil and peaceful, it was also a great way to save money on eating out, as the restaurants in Paris can be very expensive, but this way you saved money on buying food from the supermarket.

The Cost of Living

Paris is expensive. There’s no doubt about it, if you are staying in Paris a while you will find your travel fund dwindling very quickly. I was very fortunate in that I had friends I could stay with, and I also didn’t drink much while I was there as that was probably what would have taken the biggest bite out of my finances. A pint of beer in a random pub near the Moulin Rouge cost me 6.80 Euros, and that was one of the cheaper drinks on offer. The general cost of living in Paris is very expensive. Of course, if you are working there and earning a local Parisian wage then it may not be so bad, but from a visitors point of view it can be very pricey compared to other cities around the world, so be sure to budget accordingly if you do end up going…

5 Responses to “First Impressions of Paris”

  1. James says:

    6.80 for a beer? Yikes. I guess that’s why you shouldn’t eat/drink in the touristy areas. I still love Paris.

  2. Rhona says:

    no doubt about it, i think the buildings in France are beautiful. I visited Strasbough and Paris and both had nice buildings. Strasbough, older and more Germanic but still stunning/different. I also agree with the price of things. Everything was so expensive but like you, I walked everywhere to counteract that expense-most of the times.
    Overall, I like Paris but I would not return there. I don’t know what I expected but I left unimpressed. I liked Strasbourgh a lot better and have a real desire to visit the wine country and rural parts of France however. I do have to agree about the men though….ooohh lala!

  3. Gray says:

    The architecture was the first thing that struck me about Paris as well. Even buildings used for very common purposes (like apartment buildings) are so much more beautiful than anything we have here in the US. We could take lessons from the French when it comes to architecture. And the men…oh yeah. Such a large percentage of the men are nice-looking. If only I spoke more French!

  4. Sara Wilson says:

    I lived in Paris for a year back in 2000 and discovered that the beauty of Paris ranges from the obvious (Notre Dame) to the obscure (tiny, pedestrian, one-way streets, alluring boulangeries, cute brasseries). Even after living there for a year, Paris is still a maze for me. I will never tire of getting lost in her streets time and time again.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] between two¬†of the larger¬†cities.¬†From Glasgow¬†and Edinburgh, Barcelona Madrid, Paris¬†Marseille, or anywhere else, there is always¬†a sense of competition, and Australia is no stranger […]


Leave a Reply to Gray