It’s been a while and to be honest with you, there are two major reasons:
I have been swamped with a personal project that I will be able to talk about in the next few months (max a year likely)
And… I have been so disappointed with my trip to Paris that it almost cost me my pleasure to travel and/or write about it.
I know haters gonna hate big time on this one because Paris, Paris is the next big thing after sliced bread (do you guys say that in English? It’s a French expression I just translated…) Anyway, you get it, Paris is magnificent, historical, grandiose, all these things. In Paris, you eat well, wine is cheap, in Paris you learn about the history and first roman conquests… It is likely the place you will visit with the highest expectations ever.
I will, later on, group my experiences and share them with you guys with the pros and cons. I haven’t hated this experience, there are multiples situations where I truly enjoyed myself. However, the general feeling of this entire trip was not what I was hoping for.
How to be disappointed by Paris
The first thing that will get you to be disappointed by your trip to Paris is to raise your expectations. I honestly believe that the main reason I did not enjoy my experience as much as I should have, is because my expectations were too high. I was hoping to have out of this world culinary experiences with fairy and elves signing in the restaurants. I was expecting angels to light up the Eiffel tower when getting nearby… (please take these statements to the second degree)
I know it is unrealistic, but Paris is the city of love and lovers, all the movies being filmed in Paris, made me thought it was a magical city. Which is not, it’s a city like every other, with its nice areas, places with stunning architecture (Hello Eiffel Tower) and places less stunning, with homeless people and poverty. Just like everywhere.
So, my first tip: don’t get your hopes up.
As a matter of fact, French people are always on strike. I honestly think strikes are a side hustle in France. If you travel to Paris, you are likely to be caught in one of those. The “gilets jaunes” have been committing public disobedience for the past year and more. You might not be able to land in Paris because of a strike at the airport. You get the picture. When planning our trip to Paris, nothing in the air could let us believe we would face a major strike, what a luck we thought! We arrived on a Saturday, the airport was crazy busy, but we managed to be driven to the Opera by the Roissy Bus (cheap, quick, efficient). Only to realize that all the streets were closed due to the “gilet jaunes”; army to every corner, police officers everywhere. WTF? Honestly, that wouldn’t have been so bad.
Later during the week, we start hearing that there would be a major strike in the Metro on Thursday due to the new retirement policy being voted during that time. You cannot imagine the effect. On Thursday, it’s like the city closed. I am not even kidding, the city just shut down. The only things open were some random museums, a few rooms in the Louvre and the Conciergerie. Not the ideal situation when you only have a week there.
I understand people are entitled to their democratic rights, but contingency plans should be made. As an example, First Nations have been blocking the trains in Canada for more than a month now. Cities have placed public transportation alternate so people can still work.
I don’t want to hear comments about how selfish this point of view is. When you spend a good amount of money on a vacation and you end up walking the streets with the army surrounding you, it’s just not what I have in mind for a vacation.
That being said, this strike led me with a very bittersweet memory of Paris.
Whenever you talk about the city of love in Montréal, one of the first things that is mentioned is: oh yeah, wine is so inexpensive, they are so lucky!
Well, tough luck buddy. Wine is indeed inexpensive if you purchase a bottle at the grocery store, however, if you want to enjoy a bottle during your meal at the restaurant, be ready to spend at least 30 Eur.
If you look at the number written on the price tag, the amount requested is not that much different than what we would be in Canada. For example, you can expect to pay around 50 to 75 Eur for a 3 courses meal at night. Once the check comes to your table, it’s let say, 120 Eur. The number is reasonable, once you convert it in CAD, it is outrageous!
Beginning this blog post, I talked about my expectations around the food. Well, the food has also been a reason why Paris disappointed me. Don’t get me wrong, the food is absolutely delightful (see the price section above though). However, people tend to emphasize so much how food is exceptional in Paris and how French cuisine is the only true gastronomy and so forth and so forth. I was hoping to be BLOWN AWAY by the food, which didn’t happen. We can eat at least equivalent quality in Montréal for way less than what we spent in Paris. We haven’t been to Michelin Star restaurant, nor highly touristy locations, just regular restaurants where we could find local cuisine. Aside from the pastries which are hard to find equivalent in Montréal, food, in general, is not more exceptional than anywhere else.
Lines and security
Now, let’s talk about lines and security. At this point in the post, I think you need to know that we visited Paris during what is considered the “low-season”. When visiting Paris, be prepared to wait in line. By the way, when I say “wait in line” I mean WAIT, for hours. Under all types of weather, cold, rain, full sun with no shadow to hide…
Before getting in the topic of the line, please consider the fact that we are used to travel to the US. Americans are able to fill a Football Stadium with 80 000 people in like 90 minutes. And we all know how security is no joke in the US!
We had to wait around 90 minutes to make our way into Versailles Castle, with only 200 people in the line. We had to wait an hour to enter the Sainte Chapelle, where only a few dozens of people were waiting. In fact, all the wait and the “I don’t care” attitude of the security people, enhance the fact that tourists don’t feel welcome. In the end, all the wait largely contributed to the fact that Paris disappointed me.
Take Home Message
In conclusion, I would say, that Paris is a great city, more on that later, but if you are Canadian, expect to splurge quite a bit. Plus, leave room for your imagination, if you expect too much of it, you are in the right lane for a big disappointment.
Additionally, did you know that there is a mental illness caused by the Paris disappointment? It’s called the Paris Syndrome!
See you later!