5 Reasons Why Paris Disappointed Me

Paris – Je ne t’aime pas. Paris – I don’t love you.

Each time I scroll through Instagram, I involuntarily stop at pictures from Paris – the Eiffel Tower steals my heart, the cute cafés make me crave croissants and coffee, and sunrises at the pyramid of Louvre leave me in awe.

I find myself romanticizing my future visit to Paris, dreaming about how happy it must feel to be there, and wanting to experience all that it is touted for. After all, Paris is supposedly always a good idea, right?

Plot twist – I’ve already been to Paris. That’s right! Even though I’ve already been there, I continue to dream about visiting this ideal, beautiful, romantic place that everyone talks about – the utopia that doesn’t exist.

View of Eiffel Tower at Paris from Trocadero trough the perspective of the fountains.
View of the Eiffel Tower from Trocadero

Paris felt nothing like the version of it that I had built up in my head. I was so upset with the place that I just spent the entirety of my last day there in the hotel room; stepping out just didn’t feel worth it.

Paris – my dream destination ever since my grandmother told me about the Eiffel Tower when I was a 3 year old – was my biggest travel disappointment.

Crime & Unhelpful Parisians

The biggest reason why Paris disappointed me was because I haven’t felt unsafe anywhere else in the world the way I felt at Paris. In fact, if not for this one thing, this post may not have even existed.

I was there with my family, and despite being a group of 4 that fought back, our wallet was forcefully snatched at the Châtelet metro station. First thing after we arrived at Paris, before we even got a chance to set foot on the streets.

I’d been learning a bit of French on Duolingo.
Thanks to the app, I knew how to say, “the duck is eating a baguette” (“le canard mange une baguette”, in case you were wondering), but not how to shout for help. My bad, too, that I didn’t bother looking it up before I went.

Luckily, however, a big crowd gathered as I was struggling to hold on to one of the guys who was trying to escape with the wallet. And they all rushed to help us did absolutely nothing but watch. I’m just glad nobody pulled their phones out to capture a video that went viral on social media, although even that would’ve meant that they did something.

The police didn’t speak a word of English, which is completely understandable. But they also rolled their eyes when they finally understood my miming of “wallet stolen”, and refused to let me use their phone to call a local phone number to block my stolen credit cards. Merci beaucoup!

Parisian apartments with pretty plants on their balconies.
The crowds that gathered were as useful to us as this picture is in this context!

Cost

It is no secret that the Euro is one of the most expensive currencies. Add to that an extremely popular tourist destination, and you have a money hole.

We ended up booked our accommodation ~40 minutes from the heart of the city so we didn’t exhaust all our travel funds on a tiny room that would remain empty through the day when we were out exploring.

None of the restaurants, even a few blocks in, felt worth their prices either. We stopped at cafés for breakfast, but largely relied on bread, fruits, and on making our own pasta.

Breakfast with croissants and coffee equals a happy me.
At a Parisian Café

Public transportation

Using the metro was no joke. It’s not easy to find platforms in some stations. They literally have officials positioned (sometimes) to guide you to the right place, something that most other places achieve with clear signs and boards. Most commuters have no courtesy to avoid pushing others. In addition, unfortunately, we visited when there was an employee strike which made it 4 hops to get from the airport to the center of the city! No surprise that we got mugged, eh?

Our tryst with the muggers made the whole trip quite an anxious ordeal for us – especially on days when we stayed out to watch the sunset, being fully aware of the fact that it would be dark before we could make it back to safety.

Looking at a dreamy sunset and dramatic sky from Pont Alexander III with the Eiffel Tower in view in Paris.
Seen: Pretty view of the sunset from Pont Alexander III.
Not Seen: My anxiety about getting back to my room safely.

Vegetarian Baguettes

Before my trip, I was looking forward to eating Parisian baguette-sandwiches just as much as I was waiting to try the Parisian croissants.

I looked up recommendations on Yelp, I walked into numerous restaurants and cafés to ask, even traveled half way across the city to a place called “The Baguettes Café”, but none of them had a simple vegetarian baguette-sandwich!

Louvre museum courtyard in Paris - majestic and beautiful even without Mona Lisa or the Pyramid in view.
Searching for good vegetarian sandwiches like…

This would’ve been completely understandable had this been an off-beat travel destination. But for a popular tourist city, in a world where people are increasingly moving towards healthier and eco-friendly food choices, this definitely came as a surprise to me.

What did I finally settle for? A tomato-mozzarella panini from the exclusively Parisian café called…..Starbucks!

Crowd

Even though we visited before the onset of tourist season, the place was stuffed; but this came as no surprise. It did, however, make Paris even less tolerable than it already was.

The metros were packed, noisy, and dirty. To avoid paying for tickets, some commuters pushed into the gates along with us (hello, lack-of-personal space), while others literally or jumped over the gates. How often have you heard about this not-so-suave side of Paris?

Lines at tourist attractions were extremely long, scammers and muggers lurking all around. We made the right decision to admire the Notre Dame and Louvre from outside, and didn’t even consider going up the Eiffel Tower – no, thank you!

Happy jump at the Arc de Triumph in Paris.
When you need to crop your pretty legs out to hide the crowds behind

On the rare occasions that we decided to dine outside, restaurants were always full and the officials couldn’t care less about being courteous, or giving us any information on the wait time or where to wait. Cliché, you say? Clearly, for a reason!

Just not worth it

The Eiffel Tower is pretty from a distance, but the crowds get to you as you dare to go closer. The Mona Lisa is a tiny frame behind hundreds of heads and selfie sticks.

There is nothing tranquil about sipping wine by the Siene if you’re anxiously on the lookout for muggers, nothing that makes the croissants from Parisian cafés taste better than the ones back home, nothing romantic in the tobacco-filled air, and absolutely nothing that justifies all the continued hype around just another pretty city.

Pretty view of a Parisian bridge.
Paris – pretty, yes..but extraordinary? No..

Am I telling you not to go to Paris? Not at all. But if you noticed, overtourism is the root cause for most of my negative experiences – so Paris could really use a break!

But if you do choose to go to Paris, go without seeking paradise in a city that struggles under the weight of tourists to live up to its reputation. Go without the delusions that we’re fed about the city day in and day out. Go without expecting it to be exactly what you see in the movies, ads, or on Instagram. That, to me, sounds like a good idea.


Have you been to Paris? Was it before or after tourism exploded? What was your experience?

2 Replies to “5 Reasons Why Paris Disappointed Me”

  1. I’m sorry you were disenchanted. I am curious how much research and planning you did prior to your trip to Paris. As a blogger yourself, surely you must have read a up beforehand? Your entire “rant” as you call it, sounds like the exact experience all the good Paris blogs warn you about, including cultural assimilation. Paris and French food in general is centered around meat and dairy. There are vegetarian and vegan options in Paris. They are few and far between though, as it is very far from the cultural norm. All of your issues could have been avoided with proper research and preparation, including where to stay in central Paris on a budget, while still being safe. You seem very young, and sometimes naïveté is youth’s worst enemy. I encourage you to pre-plan your next vacation, as surely, you will have a better time.

    1. Thank you for sharing your views, Elisabeth. I’m a bit sad that you jumped to the conclusion that I hadn’t planned my trip. There was actually a lot of research that went into planning this trip, especially because I was traveling with my family.
      As I’ve mentioned, we were mugged at a (pretty centrally located) metro on our way from the airport to the center of the city. That’s not a commute I could’ve avoided no matter where I’d booked my accommodation. Unless I took a cab, of course – but that’s just throwing money at the problem, and not shedding light on it.
      “Other blogs warn you of this” is not a good enough excuse for things to be the way they are.
      I hope for the sake of 3-year-old-me that I visit and fall in love with Paris someday. For now though, I remain unimpressed.

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