This is a post about Paris that I am compelled to write since the longest time. As cliché as the quote “Paris is always a good idea” may sound, I would go back there in a heartbeat though I’ve visited the city more than once. The quote is true enought for me, and it might be for you too. Read on!
MY INITIAL THOUGHTS ABOUT PARIS
The first time I was in Paris was almost eight years ago. My initial thoughts was I didn’t fancy the city. Told myself and I told others that I am not coming to Paris ever again. Hence I am not surprised whenever I heard anyone who feels the same as I’ve felt it too before. And may I add that I heard it quite often too. But you know what people say – Never say never!
Here is why I initially felt that way. On my first trip there, I thought many parts of the city were (1) dirty and smelly. I also happened to have (2) unpleasant experience with sellers. During the trip, my friends and I went to other parts of Europe too so we just couldn’t help to do a comparison of the people we interacted with.
AFTERTHOUGHTS – Tak Kenal Maka Tak Cinta
When I returned home and as I learn more about Paris, took notes from travel books, articles, and travel shows, visited the city again, I began to like the city to a certain extent. Not just like. Love! The famous quote Paris is always a good idea began to make sense to me, as I began to feel the same!
After all, I thought can’t be making a generalization and conclusion about a city or its people based on just two nights stay and because of the few bad apples!
There’s a saying in Malay Language that says ‘Tak Kenal Maka Tak Cinta’ which means ‘you will never fall in love with someone until you get to know him’. And THAT, is Paris to me.
GLOBAL ISSUE AND PERSPECTIVE
In term of cleanliness, I have to say, many parts of the city are actually pleasant, and indeed some areas area are dirty. Cleanliness is a common issue for many big cities. Urm, except probably Japan? I came to this perspective after I traveled more.
Another drawback I often heard (from Malaysian) is about homeless situation in Paris. Its saddening to see, I can’t imagine when it’s winter. I remember there was a time in Paris, I cried a bit when I saw them, as I imagined the coming winter, the cold and the chill. Tried to hide the tears.
People are pushed into living on the streets is a global issue. Kuala Lumpur, Cambodia, Athens, Rome, Thailand, United States, Indonesia. The more I traveled, the more I become aware that our countries have similarities in many ways after all. Many countries and nation are facing the same impact on environment, experience economic and financial turmoil, before getting into a better shape. And in spite of a being a great and developed country, there will always be the unfortunate, that form the ‘yin’ and the ‘yang’.
Well, enough of the heavy stuff , too heavy now!
WHY PARIS IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA (For Me)
While there are many cities are relevant to the points that I am going to share, it’s actually the combination of the points that made Paris is always a good idea for me. Enjoy!
1. French Language is Music to My Ears
French is one of the foreign language that is a music to my ears. Other ‘music’ are – Italian, Arabic, Spanish, Korean, Russian, German, Greek, Romania and so many more to list! Usually when they are foreign, they are ‘music’.
2. Parisian Markets is a Shopping Heaven and Enjoyable Scene To Watch
Parisian markets are shopping heaven . If time permits, local markets and flea market will be in my list when I visit any cities. In Paris, there are daily markets or marché in different neighbourhood, selling local produce, crafts and goods. Favourite things to buy are the baguette, fruits in season, croissant, cheese, and fresh oysters! I also enjoy people watching here.
On one of my Paris trips, I went to the Bastille market right after I checked into hotel. Then headed straight up to the fresh oyster stall. Came all the way from Kuala Lumpur for them. On another trip, I bought over a kilo of seedless grapes, as they were in season and the cheapest fruit I could find. I devour them everyday as snack or even for breakfast! They are expensive in my home country.
Check the opening days/ hours and location of Paris markets here.
3. French Architecture Is Pleasing To Eyes
Day or night, they are pleasing to eyes. The Eiffel, the Lourve, Palais Garnier, the sight of bridges with beautiful statues, French windows and roofs. When I want to take a break from old French architecture, I head to La Defense, one of Paris business district with modern French architecture. They are equally pleasing to eyes. IMHO, the idea of seeing the unfamiliar in a foreign place is delightful.
4. French Women and Men
Besides strolling, Paris is nice for people watching. As for me, I particularly enjoy people watching when I go on city travels. I thought French women styles are classy and poise, not too much yet less is more. Très chic. Even most of the men are stylish.
5. French Patisseries and Chocolateries
When Europe, there will be days where pastries easily become my breakfast, lunch and dinner. How long can you resist finishing a box of Pierre Herme macarons? It’d be in just minutes for me. I tend to tell others to go enjoy French pastries or chocolates everyday when they are visiting Europe. Don’t worry much about adding extra weight or inches, that rarely happens as you will walk a lot when you are in Europe. Daily calories burn easily adds up 🙂
6. Home of Decathlon
Since I am on a strict budget when I travel, I rarely shop, unless the items are significantly cheaper than in Malaysia or something that I can’t find in Malaysia. Decathlon fits into this profile. It’s a hypermarket, just like Tesco, except that they focus on sports and outdoor goods. I knew the brand back in 2013. It was not yet opened in Malaysia. So my husband and I usually buy online where they shipped from Singapore. In 2016, they opened their first store in Malaysia. In 2017, there are two. However for now, the two stores are yet to match the vast options available in Decathlon Paris. I dropped by the shop almost everyday when I was in Paris.
7. The Climate
There are times we want to experience a place with different climate when we go on a vacation, isn’t it. Malaysia’climate is equatorial, hot and humid throughout the year. Paris is four seasons. The unfamiliar feel is nice.
8. Flight Fare – In/ Out of Malaysia
This is most relevant for those flying from Malaysia. I have observed for several years, that the cheapest flight from Kuala Lumpur to European destination is Paris. Amsterdam comes second. So, Paris is a good option for entry and exit. Exit is the most ideal if you are into shopping. However, if you are going to other destinations during the trip, do the math. Consider the regional transportation cost and their timing.
9. Heaven If You Love Walking
Paris is best explored by walking. Strolling is a bliss. The city is dreamy, romantic and relaxing for a stroll. Great to just unwind and there’s nothing quite like it. If you have been to Rome, note that whilst Paris is a city best explored by walking, the main attractions are not as close as attractions in Rome, but there are easy access to metro near most attractions.
10. It’s Convenient
Paris is a metropolitan with efficient public transport within the city and easy access to other cities and region. When you feel like going out of Paris, you can do it with ease, by it’s train network or by the many flight route and airlines.
11. Exploration And Relaxation
You can achieve both ‘exploration vacation’ or ‘RNR vacation’ in Paris.
12. The Museum & Theatre
If you want to stay indoor, yet feel Paris vibe atmosphere, go to the musems or theatre. I love them both!
Opera Garnier’s Grand staircase. The Opera house is the home of “Phantom of The Opera”. This was where the French aristocrat, noblemen and noblewomen went to be seen during the Napoleon era.
13. The Parks
One of Paris best deals gotta be the free admission parks, and there are many of them. The parks are ideal when you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city or to just rest your feet after a walk. I learnt that one of the famous gardens landscaping are curated taking into account types of flowers suitable for every seasons. One of my favourite is the Luxembourg Gardens. Trocadero is nice too. Pack something from your apartment or from the market and have a picnic at one of the lovely parks.
14. Enchanting Historic Sites
Every corners of the city is rich with well preserved historical sites and charming French architecture. Feel like traveling back in time.
15. The Different Neighbourhood
The different neighbourhoods or arrondissement, are unique and have their own character, thus more to be explored.
16. Lovely Throughout Any Seasons
Paris is one of the cities that I find it beautiful in any seasons. The sky is not a hundred percent clear in winter and autumn, but the city is still captivating, and that is the beauty of Paris.