As you may or may not be aware, I was lucky enough to visit Paris last spring (read about it in my Paris Series) and it was everything I had dreamt of & more! Before my visit, in addition to reading every travel book about Paris ever put into existence, I asked my friends on tips from their own trips to the City of Lights.
To my horror, the majority of them discredited Paris! "It's not as colorful as Italy....it was just okay....not really my favorite." I was horrified! Was I to be misled and drawn to the city I'd been dreaming of for ages only to find that it wasn't what I'd thought it would be?
Turns out, my friends and I obviously have different tastes when it comes to cities. What they found colorless or without life or even snobbish, I found downright classic and uniform and gorgeous!
The architecture was beyond incredible, an eclectic mix of styles, all old-world with Gothic and Roman influences, the food was sublime, the climate perfect, and the people divine!
I'll give it to my friends that Paris isn't as colorful as Italy...but there's a reason! If you haven't noticed, Paris is in France while Italy is Italy! Italy is home of pasta, passionate history, and even la mafia! Paris is the renowned City of Lights, it's a shopping super center, fashion capitol of the world! (Not to mention their own passionate history) Paris is old world money, Italy is old world color. Neither place is better than the other, just unique in their own beautiful ways.
What I really loved about Paris was the ability to get lost in side streets and just to wander about and find a local vineyard or a pottery shop that features only local growers and artists.
Even the parks in Paris are carefully groomed and manicured to perfection, not unlike French people themselves. And while this may deter some who prefer the wild, overgrown bushes of an Amazonian rain forest, it appealed to my sense of order and cleanliness.
(See? Perfect combination of new and old!) The French people are known for being "snobby" or "stuck-up" when in reality, we all found the Parisians to be kind, welcoming, flirty, and jovial. Every city has its share of snobs, to be sure, but Paris is unfoundedly known for having rude people. Well, if all you're encountering are rude people, maybe you should take a look in the mirror and see if it's you projecting your own energy onto others!
While the Parisians are not rude by nature, if you're respectful to them they are just as respectful to you. Many travelers don't see their own shortcomings and don't realize that they are actually the ones being rude and yes, if Parisians see you being rude to them they will not waste words being nice to you. (It doesn't help to try and dress like a Parisian. You'll never truly capture their effortless sense of style and panache, but dressing in a skirt with fun tights and a glam shirt with matching accessories and 'heavy' makeup is fun every now and again! And believe me, you'll never feel out of place wearing four-inch wedge boots on the metro.)
I have a tip for those traveling to Paris (either for the first time or the fortieth time): don't stay in a high-end hotel near where all the fancy shops are and then don't take every opportunity to explore. I love a good 5-star hotel as much as the next girl, but don't sit in your room or just go to Chanel and Versace. Find a local farmer's market! Try the different fruits, vegetables, and freshly-made pastries. Go for early-morning walks to drink cappuccino and freshly-squeezed orange juice with the locals on their way to work (okay maybe not early morning but 9:15 is prime time for commuters). Visit the Shakespeare & Co. Bookstore and get lost for hours listening to Notre Dame's bell chime. Explore the ancient churches, climb to the very top of the steeple and peer out at the city laid out in perfect squares below you!
I promise there is so much more to Paris than meets the eye, you just have to be willing to look for it.