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OPINION: Is Paris as romantic as people say?

Photo by Bharat Patil from Unsplash.

You have probably heard that Paris is the city of love or a romantic place. Does having some wine and a cheese board in a café, with the sunset and a view of the Eiffel Tower sound familiar and romantic? Well, Paris is not as romantic as we think of it.

I have lived near Paris for twenty years. I have been there countless times and never saw it as a romantic place. It was the capital city, where I would go with my friends to enjoy a nice restaurant, or to visit my family. Of course, I was excited to go, as someone living in the countryside, I saw Paris as an ongoing series of events and activities. But to me, it was just normal until I moved into the south of the country.

Some students from my university asked me how the tube is in Paris and if it’s fun to take. I was always astonished by the questions and was like “Well, it’s just the tube like any other public transport, it smells bad and is dirty”.

When I moved abroad, to the UK first and then Ireland, a lot of students would ask me if Paris was as romantic as one would say. The first time I got this question asked, it was one of my first days as an Erasmus student in the UK, meeting with my housemates. I barely understood English, and one friend asked “Is Paris like Emily in Paris?”. I laughed so much. I was so confused, and because I never saw this place from this angle, I was just laughing.

I thought about how I see Paris, and all I could think about was the piss smell everywhere, and rats opening bin bags on the street: this is the reality.

Here is an overview of tourists expectations, and reality.

Photo by Robin Ooode from Unsplash.
Photo by John Cameron from Unsplash.

The second photo shows the strike that took place in 2023 by the bin collectors. Due to the new reform decided by President Macron to raise the retirement age for bin collectors from 57 to 59 years old.

Paris can look like the photo on the left. But tourists tend to generalise this aesthetic to the whole capital. Paris, there are also a lot of protests, and a lot of violence on the streets, especially on the outskirts, but in some areas, you can enjoy the architecture and your glass of wine.

The Paris syndrome is experienced by a lot of tourists. It is a severe culture shock. France, and especially Paris, is depicted as unreal on social media. Happy people everywhere, wonderful weather, flowers on each street corner, this is how tourists imagine my country. However, when they come to visit, they are hugely disappointed and are hit by the Paris syndrome.

In this podcast, I have a chat with my friend Vrunda from India, and Benjamin from Mexico. They also believed this city was extremely romantic, but I debunked this idea. They assumed that Paris was the city of love, that everything was so beautiful, and that your problems disappear as soon as you arrive there.

So if you want to travel to France, remember to take off your pink-tinted glasses, and enjoy your trip! It’s still a lovely country and don’t be put off by French people’s mood.

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