What I Learned From A Disastrous Trip To Paris

I lied in the title. Our trip to Paris wasn’t exactly disastrous, but it was particularly pleasant either. We went during Easter 2013 and I was undeniably excited by the prospect. Paris was up there with New York as one of the cities I wanted to visit since I was a child. My mother loved it. Audrey Hepburn loved it. It is referred to as the city of love so surely it was a given that I would love it.

paris

From the offset I found Paris to be underwhelming. First there was the cold. It was April, so granted I wasn’t expecting it to be tropical. Equally, I wasn’t expecting to nearly freeze to death. To say it was bitterly cold would be an understatement. In this respect we were under prepared and only have ourselves to blame. But it was APRIL. I was not expecting snow.

Aside from the freezing temperatures there were other things I disliked about Paris. It is big, I mean really big. Or at least that’s how it felt. It also felt quite unwelcoming. That is not to say everyone was rude. In fact many people helped us out when we were clearly struggling to negotiate our way round. It was the city itself that felt unfriendly. That may have been to do with the extreme temperature though! We also had a very uncomfortable experience at a restaurant where a local thought it would be great to sit and smirk at us for our entire meal. Unfortunately bad experiences seem to really stick with me and overshadow everything else.

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The main reason I found Paris to be a problem was entirely my fault. I simply tried to fit too much into a long weekend and got stressed out. I had not long come back from a year and a half of solid travelling where I had the luxury of time and could see as much as I wanted and not miss anything. I was struggling to adjust back to the real world where you only get so many days annual leave and therefore there are limitations to how much sightseeing one can fit it in.

Not only that, I got sucked into the idea that I wanted to explore major tourists attractions such as the Lourve. I should have known better. I do not like museums. Hours spent in a massive museum was never going to be an enjoyable experience. Especially when queuing in the cold was involved. I like queuing even less than I like the cold. There were also several failed attempts at queuing to go up the Eiffel Tower. In the end we decided it probably wasn’t worth the effort.

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One good thing that came out of this trip is it made me reconsider how I travel, especially on weekend breaks when time is of the essence. City breaks in particular can be quite overwhelming, they usually have a list of ‘must see’ sites as long as your arm making it impossible to see them all. Because of this I am very picky about what I choose to see and do on any trip. Also, just because someone else thinks the Lourve is the best thing since sliced bread does not mean I will enjoy it. I know the sort of things I like to do on holiday and the more I have travelled the more I have stopped doing things just because everyone says I should. I used to think I had to just tick sites off my list to prove I had seen everything a place had to offer – whether I wanted to or not. This is not how I travel anymore.

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These days I am more likely to be found aimlessly walking the city streets than hanging out in museums. I am much happier to go sit in a coffee shop and people watch than spend an hour queuing for something that if I am honest I am not really fussed about seeing. I get that some tourist attractions are totally worth the effort and will of course visit them but I will never o and see something just for the sake of it, I have to really want to experience it.

The following Easter we ended up going to Barcelona and had a much more successful trip. We were chilled out, we saw the sites we really wanted to see and spent the rest of the time eating tapas or enjoying beer with the locals in the pub. Perhaps, not very exciting to some people but those are things I really enjoy.

Have you learned any valuable lessons from a bad travel experience? Did any of you find Paris a little underwhelming like I did? Let me know below.

P.S. sorry about the crap photo’s I have hardly any good ones from our trip to Paris. I managed to salvage these from my Facebook album and turn them black and white in the hope it would make them look a little better.

10 Comments

  1. Tanja / The red phone box trav 28th November 2016 / 9:34 am

    I loved Paris:) I but I spent a week there and it was warm and we went out every night and I was younger:)

  2. Amanda @ Rhyme & Ribbons 28th November 2016 / 9:42 am

    I love Paris (and loved the Louvre) but I first spent a week there, and have gone back for weekend breaks since. I love museums, but I totally can get why the Louvre isn’t for everyone! x

  3. Sharon Robinson 28th November 2016 / 9:45 am

    I hope you get to go again oneday as Paris is a lovely place. Sometimes having really high expectations can ruin a holiday though , I agree. I am the same and am not really interested in museums, unless they are devoted to something I really like. I’ve been to Paris once and I decided to go up the Arc de triomphe instead of Eiffel tower, which mean’t much less queauing time and fab views of the city( which of course included the tower) and the only musueum I went in was the museum of hunting and nature ~ because I love wildlife. I did alot of pavement cafe people watching, rode on a carousel, walked round an old cemetary, had coffee and cake in a cat cafe and stared up at a lot of buildings.These were the things I liked doing…so I wasn’t disapointed.However it was july so nice and warm. I would return.Maybe oneday give it another go and research beforehand the things you personally would like to see.x

  4. Natalie 28th November 2016 / 10:03 am

    I had the same thoughts on my first visit to Paris. I was only there for two days but on my second visit (4 days) I enjoyed it a lot more. Paris is a giant city and I definitely agree that it’s more enjoyable for cities that size to be quite selective on what you do. I think I’ve definitely learnt that over my various trips now

    Nat // Dignifiable

  5. Laura Torninoja 28th November 2016 / 10:32 am

    I actually didn’t love Paris that much either when I went a few years ago – but I think it might be due to similar reasons as you! I didn’t get to do the things I enjoy doing on holidays (explore, eat, drink and then eat some more) but rather just followed other people and did what they wanted to do. I’d love to go back to Paris and do everything again on my own terms. šŸ™‚ x

    Laura // Middle of Adventure

  6. Rachel 28th November 2016 / 3:20 pm

    I didn’t really ‘get’ Paris the first time I went, either. However, having been back a couple of times (in the warmer weather, which helps!) I really got into it. I mostly went for the food and I have no shame in admitting that! Other than that I mostly enjoyed wandering the streets, admiring the views, and avoiding the crowds!

  7. Cynthia 28th November 2016 / 8:06 pm

    City breaks are so much more enjoyable when you’ve got less planned, I feel! There’s gotta be ample downtime to just hang in a cafe or see something magical – magic moments are the most important thing :)) Along with trying not to do TOO much, I do agree that time of year is key. I had a similar experience on my first trip to Reykjavik and was super let-down, thinking I was going to LOOOVE it there (similar – traveled in April and it actually snowed!!). I do really remember Easter 2013 in Europe – the weather straight up sucked. Was in Vienna but fortunately hid out in cafes and enjoyed the time anyway. I do hope you’ll decide to return to Paris in a nicer month. The autumn is my favorite in the city!

  8. Lynsey || One More Slice 28th November 2016 / 11:01 pm

    That is so disappointing that you had a rubbish time in Paris, I had an amazing time but we were incredibly lucky with the weather. We went in late September so it wasn’t too touristy plus the weather was like some sort of Indian heatwave, it was brilliant. Completely agree with you regarding the tourstiy things, at the time I felt like I should have gone to the Louve to visit the Mona Lisa, but Im glad I didn’t as it would have meant I couldn’t wonder around as much as I did! If you are interested here is my post of my time in Paris:

    Maybe you could go back when the weather is a bit nicer and wonder around? Or has your experience put you off going back completely? xx

  9. Amber Davey 18th December 2016 / 9:48 am

    I went to Paris when I was quite young so barely remember it, I do know how unfriendly it feels though. It’s like a different country to the rest of France! Tip from actual French people – visit Paris in the summer, it’s so empty because all the rude Parisians have gone on holidays! So it’s not just you, even some French people don’t like Paris! xo

    Amber Love Blog

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