Paris has always been on my list of dream destinations. With my daughter taking French, I really wanted to be the one to take her to Paris. My husband and I decided that this year would be the year--we would go to Paris to fulfill a dream. We were a little apprehensive about going at first. My husband and I are usually fans of diamonds in the rough, cities that are up and coming, not cities that everyone seems to visit. We were worried that Paris would be a little too much for us. To our delight, we loved it. Absolutely loved it!
As with any trip, we learned a few things along the way:
You will not be able to see everything. Paris is a city--a big city. If you truly want to enjoy your visit, try not to pack your schedule too tightly. We tried to keep our schedule flexible.
You will miss Paris. Paris is such a beautiful city. When I left, I definitely had culture shock. What do you mean I don't have a boulangerie right across the street? Also, since I had spent so much time on researching for this trip, I felt an immediate let down when I returned home. I actually have time to myself. Instead of feeling relaxed, I feel like I am missing something.
Spend time just absorbing your surroundings. Eat at a cafe. Take a boat ride on the Seine. Sit and enjoy a gelato. Do this without frantically snapping pictures. It is truly an amazing feeling when you feel part of the city, not just a tourist. Photography is actually prohibited in some of the sites. To me, this was liberating in a way. You really spend more time enjoying when you aren't trying to get the perfect shot.
You may be surprised by the things that you like. Climbing the Eiffel Tower is the tourist thing to do. Of course, we had to. However, if you would have asked me a couple of months ago if I was excited about visiting the Eiffel Tower, I would have said no. We actually loved our visit to the Eiffel Tower. We ate lunch on the first floor and climbed to the second floor to take in an amazing view. What a wonderful afternoon!
The museum gift shops are definitely worth a visit. We actually found some unique souvenirs to bring back with us at the museum gift shops. If you are tight on time and would rather take in museums than shopping, a stop in a museum gift shop may be the perfect way to still bring something home.
Watch out for the pickpockets. No, we did not get picked. We took precautions with our valuables before traveling. However, we were approached by a couple of scam artists asking us if we "spoke English." Basically, this is a scam to steal money. You will see signs warning you about pickpockets at the major tourist sites. Definitely, protect yourself. This is not to say that we ever felt scared. You just need to be cautious.
Beware of scooters. Scooters zoomed by us while walking on the sidewalk a couple of times. I was not expecting that!
Learn some French phrases. This was not an issue for us since my daughter and I both speak French. However, French is the language of France and knowing some key phrases shows your respect. People will definitely be more willing to help you if you start with basic French. A "Bonjour!" will get you a long way. Plus, it was priceless to see the French light up when you speak to them in French. Your effort will be appreciated.
You will walk and walk and walk and love it! We walked all over and had a great time! My daughter actually did a wonderful job of keeping up with us without too many issues. There is so much to see and do, you do not even notice how much you have walked.
You will miss Paris. Yes, this warrants a second mention. Paris is so unique. When you hear mention of Paris, you will find yourself wistfully recalling your trip--and wanting to return!