People often ask why I keep returning, and it’s simple. I love the vibe and culture. But since that doesn’t really explain it to someone who’s never been, I thought I’d compile a list of 10 reasons why I love Paris.
Food, for me, is a massive factor for travel so I’m putting it first on my list. Whether you’re looking to enjoy the quintessential meal or discover a new to you cuisine, Paris has you covered. The options are endless, from starred Michelin restaurants headed by famous chefs to cheap and cheerful offerings at a local crepe or falafel stand. Sometimes after a long day of seeing the sights, it’s also nice to picnic in your hotel room – munching on delicious purchases you’ve made at the small specialty shops that dot every arrondissement.
Paris is old. Old old. 12,000 years old remnants from the Stone Age kind of old. The city was later known as Lutecia after it was conquered by the Romans before eventually changing hands to French Kings in the 5th century and being renamed, Paris. Throughout history Paris has seen a lot. Wandering the city I’m always amazed learning the stories of what makes Paris, whether it’s bullet holes in the sides of buildings thanks to WWII or beautiful churches that are older than my country by centuries. Everywhere you look there’s something to learn from. Keep an eye out for plaques like this one on the Pont Neuf bridge, which references the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day (1572) when a targeted attack by Catholics murdered 4000 Huguenots.
Stained glass and church spires and grand Haussmann buildings – oh my! Paris’ architecture is famous the world over. One of my favourite examples is La Conciergerie, most known for being where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned for the last weeks of her life before literally losing her head. The above space, known as Salle des Gardes (The Hall of the Guards) was built in the early 14th century and its craftsmanship blows my mind.
World class art can be found in the many museums across Paris. Fancy getting up close to the largest collection of Monet paintings? Perhaps taking that selfie next to Rodin’s The Thinker sculpture is more your jam? And of course one of the most famous ladies in the world, da Vinci’s Mona Lisa charms countless people with her mysterious smile. Paris has you covered with these works – and so many more. A newer option is the digital immersive productions at Atelier des Lumières. The Van Gogh exhibition was really impressive, and I’m very much looking forward to the one focusing on Dali & Gaudi when we visit next month.
But art in Paris isn’t limited to galleries and exhibitions. Paris enjoys a vibrant street art scene with works dotted across the city. Some by famous graffeurs and many by others still trying to make a name for themselves. One of my favourites – so far – is this beauty by artist Gregos which was created to recognise Women’s Day is 2004. You can find more information here.
Sitting on a terrace in Paris is a pastime enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. It’s a wonderful way to spend time people watching over a cup of coffee, or catching up with friends over a bottle of wine. Whether you’re simply looking for an excuse to rest your feet or enjoy a café or glass of perfectly chilled rosé, a terrace is the perfect place to do so.
Being a Vancouverite, where we’re used to being surrounded by nature, it’s a welcome sight in Paris to come across one of the city’s many green spaces. Jardin de Tuileries and Jardin Luxembourg are the most famous, but there are so many more of varying sizes to enjoy. One of my favourites is above, Jardin du Palais Royal.
Paris ranks as one of the top walkable cities in the world. The Metro and bus systems are efficient but there’s something to be said about experiencing the city by foot. It’s a much more immersive experience, with Paris feeling like countless little villages strung together. Walking gives you the option of dipping into little shops or churches that catch your eye, stopping for a photo when the mood strikes or taking a break at a café. Even during my last visit, injured and forced to wear the ugliest of footwear, I still opted to walk as much as I possibly could.
While you probably won’t find me perusing the expensive luxury brand shops on Rue Saint-Honoré, you can expect to find me shopping for food, homewares and random souvenirs to bring home for myself and those near and dear to me. I look for less crowded and unique options, like specialty shops or little brocantes (flea markets with a specialised focus) like this one in Le Village Saint Paul.
Paris is a treat for door lovers. If you’ve been following along on my adventures, you’ll remember this door as being my first entry into Thursday Doors. And you’ll also remember me mentioning I almost got run over when I foolishly stepped out onto the road to take this photo. Not my finest moment, but a good example of how much I love the beautiful doors of Paris.
There you have it, my very short list of reasons I love Paris. Obviously there are many many more, but I hope you’ve found some inspiration in the above to visit or return to Paris yourself.