If you read my previous post, you know that I was less-than-excited to visit Paris. Aside from a few days in England, I had never traveled to a big European city, and I didn’t really know what to expect. Would I like the French food? Would I feel unsafe? Would my shoes give me blisters? Was the language barrier going to be difficult? What would the weather actually be like? Were my outfits chic enough? Anxiety.
After spending one day in the city, my nerves subsided.
Paris was unlike anywhere I had ever been before, it was like a whole new world (yep, I just quoted Aladdin). After a week in the city, my preconceived notions were shot down and I feel like I really got to experience Paris the way it ought to be seen. And here’s what I learned.
1. Despite what people say about Paris, I felt safe. Aside from an obvious scare of the terrorist attack happening a few blocks from where we were wining and dining, I felt mostly safe in Paris. While you should absolutely be aware of your surroundings, and keep your belongings close by, I think people were a tad dramatic about the threat of pickpocketing. The only time I was especially uncomfortable was at the metro station, but otherwise I felt just as safe as I would walking around San Francisco.
2. The Ubers are cheap, but the drivers do not speak English. We spent the first half of the trip trekking around with sore feet because of the horror stories of being hustled in European taxis. Little did we know, the Ubers are actually extremely affordable in Paris. Take advantage of it, but have your Google translations up and ready, not one of our Uber drivers spoke English. Technology to the rescue!
3. The Louvre isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. If you’re an art history lover, or want a good cultural experience, go. If you’re like me and could care less about the Mona Lisa, snap a quick pic outside the Louvre and go visit Louis Vuitton instead. I’m lucky to be able to say that I’ve been there, but the Louvre was probably my least favorite part of the trip.
4. The strikes force you plan ahead. The strikes will not ruin your day, but they do force you to plan a little more. Check the transportation times and stick to a timeline.
5. The calories don’t count in Paris, because you walk so damn much. Bring your walking shoes, and eat the cake. We walked at least seven miles each day, and I actually came home weighing less than when I left (even after all the brie, bread and booze— win!).
6. Le Marais is the best for boutique shopping and cute cafes. If you’re looking for Instagrammable cafes and local boutique shopping, you should definitely pay a visit to Le Marais. You won’t be disappointed, swear.
7. Picnicking in front of the Eiffel Tower is better than going up in it. We picnicked in front of the Eiffel Tower twice, and it was easily one of the highlights of the trip. Grab some local cheese, a baguette, and a bottle (or four) of rosé— thank me later.
8. Having a local take you under their wing allows you to experience the city in a new way. On our last day, we met this amazing man who we like to call our Paris Fairy Godfather. He was originally from the States, but lived in Paris, and he totally (thankfully) took us under his wing. He wined and dined us when we couldn’t figure out where to eat, lent us a spare suitcase to carry-on to the plane so we could fit all of our souvenirs, walked us back to our hotel the night of the terrorist attack to ensure we were safe, and got us a town-car to take us to the airport bright and early the next morning. He was so generous, it was unreal, and we’re eternally thankful.
If you’re reading this, shout out to you, Michael McNutt— you the best.
9. Getting outside of the city for a day or two is a good idea. Versailles is great (you should go), but Reims is better. If you like Champagne, I highly recommend doing a tour outside of the city in Reims (the birthplace of our beloved bubbly). The tours are a bit pricey, but often include transportation, several champagne tastings, and a lunch. It was worth every penny.
10. If you want a to splurge on designer, buy it in Paris. We all bought something designer from the flagship stores on Champs Elysees— Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, Saint Laurent— and we all saved money. If you’ve been thinking about splurging on something designer, and find yourself in Paris, do it. Because of the way the taxes work, you actually end up saving close to 15% on top of the already cheaper price tags. It’s a total win.
11. The Italian food is phenomenal, even though you aren’t in Italy. I know we were in France, but snails aren’t really my thing, ya know? We ate Italian almost every day, and it never (like, ever) disappointed. I’m still drooling thinking about the risotto, gnocchi, and pizza. Next stop, Rome?
Dress c/o Tobi. Shop their new arrivals here.