I Moved To Paris! My First Impressions of the CityWednesday, January 25, 2017
The second part of my year abroad has finally arrived - in Paris! A year and a half ago when I was applying for internships I could only dream of landing something this good and in the most beautiful city, but it happened and I'm here! I've now been here for 3 weeks and I have noticed a lot: the good, the bad and the ugly. So here are some of my first impressions of the world-famous city of love.
1) People are nicer than you thinkNot all Parisians are rude and to be honest I actually haven't even come across a single person who is, although I always try to speak French do so with a smile so that may help. To be honest I do really think that Parisian's get their bad reputation for two reasons. First of all, because it's a big city the hustle and bustle of city life can sometimes get in the way and people become very impatient - I think this is the same in any massive city really and I'm sure that I look really angry and unapproachable when I'm on my way to work simply because I'm trying to get there as fast as possible.
Secondly, there are a lot of obnoxious tourists, and I mean the kind that block the pavement as they take pictures of the city (I get it, it's beautiful but just move to the side) and make absolutely zero effort to speak the language or even ask if the person they're talking to speaks English before they bombard them with demands for directions etc.
That being said, I have only been here for a few weeks so I'm sure that sooner or later i'll come across someone who's not that nice, although i'll put it down to Paris being a big city and it being a coincidence rather than everyone who is Parisian being mean. EDIT: Four weeks in I have now met one extremely rude person, not too bad so far considering I have almost been here for a month.
2) It is literally so expensiveSo you know how everyone says "Paris is so expensive" and you just kind of think "yeah yeah how bad can it really be", well no... they're right. I knew that accommodation was going to be expensive but I didn't realise how much the every day, normal things cost. For example a few weeks ago I went out for drinks with some friends and I ordered a sparkling water (boring, I know). Guess how much it was. Just guess. €6,30! For a sparkling water?! It was literally perrier that came in a glass, not even a bottle.
Or what about €8,20? I mean to be fair it was probably the best hot chocolate I had ever tasted and it was at the famous Angelina tearoom, so they can charge whatever they want but it just shows how expensive things can get. And in the supermarkets: 4 euros for a punnet of strawberries when they're 2 pounds in the UK? No matter what the season? No thank you.
3) But you can also do a lot for freeAlthough a lot of Paris is expensive you can actually do a lot for free including seeing some of the worlds' most famous pieces of art if you're an EU citizen under 26. There is so much to see and do and you could spend a whole afternoon exploring the neighbourhoods such as Le Marais or Montmartre without spending a cent.
4) It's just so BEAUTIFULThere's not much that I have to say on this one other than there are some parts (not all) of the city that are actually incredibly beautiful. I love the Hausmann style buildings, the little cafés and everything else in between - I literally spend my weekends walking around the place with little love hearts in my eyes, taking everything in. I can't wait for it to be spring time as it's supposed to be the most beautiful season to be in the city.
5) You get the ugly sides of a cityUnfortunately many things in Paris aren't pretty and a lot of people tend to forget these and forget that Paris is a real, working, breathing city not just a playground for macaroon-eating and art-appreciating. Most people think of the most central parts of Paris rather than some parts of the 18th, the 19th and the 20th which has some unsafe areas and there is even something called "Paris Syndrome" which is a psychological disorder when tourists experience extreme shock by realising that Paris isn't all that they thought it would be.
The other day I had to change metro in Barbès when I was on my way to meet a friend for coffee in Pigalle and that's where I noticed a massive difference and the disparity between rich and poor. It was in the late afternoon and the smell of weed was overpowering, as was the presence of some dodgy characters. A couple of people had warned me not to go there because of the high crime rate, but me, oblivious as anything, didn't realise until it was too late and I had to change metro lines (obviously I was absolutely fine as it was during the day, just taken aback!)
You also notice a lot of homelessness in Paris. I literally have never been to a city where I have seen so many poor people, especially in the metro stations. A lot of people come up to you asking for money/restaurant tickets and a lot of people make speeches on the metro about how they're homeless and what the reasons are for it etc. rather than homeless people in London who just tend to sit at the side of the street. Honestly I see this happen every day, almost every time I take the metro and it is very saddening to see.
6) People cannot driveThis is a little bit of a weird one I suppose but people just seem to drive so aggressively here... just go to the roundabout at the Arc de Triomphe and you'll see what I mean - it's even said that insurance companies don't cover this specific roundabout. Alternatively order an uber and you may experience a drive like I did last weekend which was interesting to say the least. There is no way that I would ever drive here. Thank God for the monthly metro card which is only 73 euros a month.
7) The winters are FREEZINGThere's not much more that I can say about this other than it is so much colder here than it was in England and I don't think it's fair that England has such a bad reputation for its climate. When I arrived in Paris it was -3 degrees and it's been around that ever since... not to mention the grey skies, although this weekend we had two days of glorious sunshine which makes things much better. My flight from Birmingham to Paris even got delayed because of all of the fog but I could still see the top of the Eiffel tower through the clouds!
8) The food!Lastly, to end on a positive note: the food! I have eaten my body weight in baguette and I cannot wait to try all of the different macaroons and croissants in search of the perfect ones (although I may have already found them as everything is just so tasty!) I'm not a massive fan of French cuisine in general, but I have to say that the pastries are top notch. Luckily I live on the fifth floor of a building with no stairs or otherwise I would be packing on the pounds with all the yummy treats.
I am literally so excited to be in such a beautiful, diverse city and I cannot wait to explore it all and share some of my experiences with all of you!