Paris is the first trip I ever paid with my own hard-earned money.
This was back when low cost flights had just started to trickle into Romania as well and made it possible to visit famous cities at a fraction of the cost.
And I was stoked. So I bought myself a birthday present and hopped on a Wizzair flight to Beauvais, Paris.
I lost count of the number of times I’d been to Paris since. I had weekends away, weeks away, business travels, in’n outs..
In all those visits, I started developing my own kind of love/hate relationship with the city.
A Trashy Matter
Coming out of a meeting, I took the taxi back to the Paris Nord station and, as it usually happens, got into a chitchat with the taxi driver.
The day was superb, sunny, breezy and not too hot.
Yet, we kept the windows up and chose the AC.
Because of all the stinking trash, the driver said. Between the frequent strikes, the bad schedules of the collection trucks and of course, simple equation of narrow sidewalks +piles of garbage bags, the stench was awful.
I know there are 2 million people in Paris, but I also know that other cities, far bigger than Paris, know how to handle things.
Just do a case study or two on how they do it in Japan, Paris. You’ll get some good pointers..
One thing is for sure from all those dates we had, Paris and I: Paris will never cease to offer new, exciting worthy morsels.
Like the Paris Mosque next to Jardin des Plantes.
Or the heavenly delicious (and more than plentiful) food at Chez Gladines.
Eat the duck, or the beans with sausage – or anything in the menu, I’m convinced they put fairy dust over everything!
Make sure to get desert. It won’t be easy, with all the food you’ll ingest, but don’t feel guilty and don’t look back.
The Basque cuisine knows how it’s done.
Bad, Bad Service
I will never quite be able to deal with the (mostly) bad service you get at restaurants and bars in Paris – though I guess, with all the millions of tourists at your doorsteps, you eventually become jaded and stop caring.
Like the terrace along the Seine, who only serves you a big bottle of water if you order food. I genuinely laughed, thinking the waiter was joking with me.
Or the piano bar that forces a group of 8 people to order food at 10 PM if they want a table, just so they almost kick you out mid-soup, when a couple comes in looking for a table.
Talk about bad service, you’ll find plenty of that in Paris. So here’s a picture of the Eiffel tower to take away the bad taste.
Some More Gems
But also talk about breathtaking, romantic, amazing sights, and Paris will offer you a whole new world to choose from.
I’m not referring to the infamous Eiffel tower, or Notre-Dame church.
I’ve found immense pleasure in simply grabbing a croissant from a bakery next to the park and going for a stroll in Jardin des Plantes.
Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it’s because I have done all the tourist checkpoints before.
Sure, go see the consecrated landmarks, snap a few shots, then be on your own way and enjoy the Paris we all want.
Just for a little while, also try the Paris of the locals, Paris sans the crowds, real Paris.
Like the not overly popular Madeleine, which will surely hit a spot with its grandeur.
Or sticking around the Sacre Coeur and watching the sunset from up the steps.
Or have a look at the 59 Rivoli building, with 6 floors of art studios that have exhibits free to the public.
Of course you’d get that in Paris, city of love and art.
Or.. the I Love You Wall (Le mur des je t’aime), which holds expressions of love in over 300 languages.
I wonder which side of the line my next trip to Paris will be.. mean and uninviting, or loving and romantic?
A la prochaine, Paris!