Why I Dislike Paris

Bastille Sunday Market

June 2014

Photo set on Flickr

My job brought me several times over the past two years to Paris, a city I don’t particular care for as a traveling destination. Without divulging into a thousand-word rant, here are six reasons why:

  1. Extremely crowded. Paris ranked third on the most visited cities list in 2014. Even though London welcomed the most visitors, if you avoid Buckingham Palace and Oxford Circus the crowd is generally manageable. Whereas since the historic center of Paris is so compact, escaping the flood of people is much more difficult.
  2. Super expensive. According to Tripadvisor, Paris is the second most expensive city to visit (London is again first).
  3. Many Parisians, including tourist information center employees, still hold tremendous amount of pride in not offering any service in English.
  4. Food offers poor value. I tried to follow websites like Paris by Mouth and Chowhound to find meals that cost around €15 per person, but none managed to impress us (except for Le Grenier à Pain des Abbesses’ croissant). Even London, traditionally a culinary backwater, has surpassed the supposed gastronomical capital of the world, at least in the non-Michelin star category. Point to note: Bastille Sunday Market can’t hold a candle to London’s Maltby St. Market, let alone the much more heralded Borough.
  5. Surprisingly tiring to get around. Although the capital is served by one of the most robust subway systems in the world, switching subway lines almost always require a long trek and climbing multiple flights of stairs.
  6. Pickpocket is so common the staff at the Louvre was compelled to go on strike for a day to express their concern and displeasure.

After visiting and revisiting Amsterdam, London, Rome and Stockholm the past few years, Paris is the only city where I couldn’t find a reason to linger – a world-class city that feels peculiarly hollow. What’s lacking is the element of discovery I have in the other capitals even after multiple visits, whereas in Paris nothing major seems to ever change under its beautiful facade. Actually that’s not entirely correct – a major development is the proliferation of French brands in Asia, from chocolatiers like La Maison du Chocolat and Jean-Paul Hévin to body care retailers such as L’Occitane. Such familiarity only breeds further apathy.

Obviously Paris is still splendidly beautiful. While happening neighborhoods unlike the Latin Quarter or Montmartre might exist in Paris (Canal Saint-Martin?), my interest for the city is simply not enough to justify spending any time to uncover them. There are simply too many places in France I have yet to explore.

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