Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why I Hate Paris

I have another “lumberjack” sleeping in my room. And it's only a three person dorm! What are the odds. Ahh – you ask what is a lumberjack in quotation marks. A valid question. It is a person whose snores sound like a chainsaw cutting through lumber. Last night I wanted him destroyed – but I was all tuckered out to the point that I couldn't care for long. Also – I was quite distressed that someone in Brugge is about to inherit a lovely, freshly laundered, blue microfiber towel. One which I was so lovingly lent by my most delightful counterpart. And why? Because I didn't want it to get smelly in my bag, so I left it out – set to pack it in the morning. Yeah. Well that didn't work out. And then(!) I just went to my room – after coming home soaked – to check my stuff, to find (at nine o'clock) my proverbial plaid wearing bunkmate already asleep, and already clear cutting. So all of these things combine to set me in the mood to tell you why:


First off, the wifi in the hostel never works. And I know that's not Paris' fault. Hell I know that they do their best to give me as much wifi as I can handle. McDonald's give it for free, the parks all have hotspots, so much of the city wants me on the internet. But not in the hostel. For the wifi I paid for! I quote Phillip, from Bruges (and if you're out there, pop me an e-mail because I had to leave on an early train and missed getting your details. Have fun with the collage girl when you get to Paris!), when he said, “you know, I wouldn't bloody mind paying for internet if it ever worked properly!”

Lesson learned, my momentary friend, lesson learned.

Second, my god are the subways hot. Call them The Metro, Le Metropolitan, I don't care. they're still way too bloody hot. And sure the windows open, but when it's October, and the locals are sweating – there is a problem. Mind you they were dressed in three layers, with big jackets to “keep them warm” on a 25 degree Celsius day. (I've discovered talking to Americans about weather is fun. It was 25 yesterday. “Oh my, but it's so lovely today.” Hmm – right. It was about 78 yesterday. “Oh, well isn't that lovely then.”) I do not like being gross and grimy because of the subway.

Workers need some bloody better customer relations. I paid for my meal that cost three euro, five cents. I hand over my bill. Head lolling to the side, “uhh, do you have five cents?” Nope, I respond – this isn't true, I'm kind of at fault here, but I love pissing off the shop keeps. Also, I want change. Vending machines need change. I need to use vending machines. But my god, when I said no, you should have seen her. Her life was ruined. I recall this happening once in a McDonald's earlier in my trip (when I canceled my sixty cent mayo order.) A flash in her eyes told me she would kill my first born, if ever given the chance. And all I could think was, “my god woman, just bloody count to ninety five. One fifty cent, two twenty cents, and a five cent. It's four coins. Get over your Parisian self. I don't care if you are hot and sweaty working in a kitchen, maybe you shouldn't bloody wear a jacket just because the fashion season has changed. Dress for your climate, not for your audience. And where is my bloody ninety five cents already?!”

Now – I want to counter this by saying that all people working in this job area are not jerks. I had a lovely girl in training who knew no English when I tried to order a “Strawberry Milk Shake.” We awkwardly danced around my order for a while, and my goodness when she asked, “will that be all,” but not in English, in French, it took a long time to understand the question. Her manager whispered – in French - “don't ask complicated things to the English.” I understand that much. And I suppose that was quite helpful rather than snide. Although – I just want to point out that Strawberry Milkshake in french is pronounced “Milk Shake Fraise.” The only other two options would have been Chocolate Milkshake, “Milk Shake Shaw-co-lat” or Vanilla Milkshake, “Milk Shake Va-Nill.” So, I'm not really sure why all the confusion. But, that's that. As I was leaving I thanked her in her language, and she mustered up all her courage to return the parting words, speaking – what I assume is her only knowledge of the English language – “Thank you. Good. Bye. Mister.” It was adorable. It was fantastic. And it made me forget the angry five cent girl across the street. I tell you, fast food workers are the unofficial ambassadors of countries. It also helped that the Quick Burger chocolate shake (...they were out of strawberry. Of course.) - only one euro – just happens to be the best bloody shake I've had in a long long time.

O.K. Enough of this cushy love-in. Back to why I hate Paris, and I do – if only in an ultra secretive clandestine way.

They play the “lets hose the tourist” game. Metro passes. I am a tourist. I buy the five day pass for the perfect sum of twenty four, or twenty seven euro. Something like that. My sneaky friend (with a metro card as she's a “local”) gets the seven day week pass for seventeen. Thanks Paris. What a lovely way to meet and greet us. You think we tourists wont find out! You think you're smart. But you're not. Sure you have my money, but I'll find one way or another to proverbially pee in your pool, before this week is up.

The obnoxious “give me money scams” - one I'll save for a special next entry. There is a “trick” where someone will ask you to put your finger through some strings. Do NOT put your finger through the strings. They will tie a knot in it so fast, that you can not get your finger out until you pay them. And if you try to just break away – well they are very big, very distressing, looking people. You try if you want. Best to just avoid it – don't put your finger in the strings! No I did not do this – but I was warned. Perhaps I'll watch it all play out some day this week.

The friggin' Romanian (I saw Romanian because my guide books – albethem outdated – say that's what they are. If I am wrong, I apologize.) beggars. “Do you speak English?” If someone who doesn't look like they are a stupid lost tourist (like you do, apparently which is why you've been targeted) do not respond. Or look them in the face and say no. They will be girls about 17 – 22. And when they say “Not even a little?” stare them down and say, “no I do not speak English. I couldn't possibly understand a word of it, and have a hard time even making out what you're saying. Sorry.” Oh you'll not listen the first time. You'll assume they're lost and say, “yes.” And then you're hooked. Let the game begin.

The game begins, you see, by them showing you a postcard. It says they're from Bosnia and so poor, and hungry, and other sad sad things, then it asks you for money at the end. Ahh but you're a seasoned traveller. You know better. You know they're like seagulls, so long as you feed them, they'll always be around. So you give – Wait? You gave them money?! Dammit. You're the reason they're here! Shoo birds, shoo!

But no, you've said you have no money. Then they ask for “english money.” What is English money? It doesn't matter – because some people will cave here. When they see your pack, after you refuse once more, they'll ask for fruit “oh please, just a piece of fruit. I'm so hungry. Oh please sir. Please.” And when they step towards your pack, move faster than them, and grab it. I don't know if they'll take it – but these are not nice people. These are people who have honed their craft, and prey on tourists. And they are – straight up – assholes. There is no other word.

You tell them you have no money. None at all. You say you have no fruit. I mean, come on, my bag was open – she could see all inside of it. There was no fruit! But no, she persists begging you for just a small piece of fruit. You see, her father is dead, and she has to raise her brothers (a new development! Why wouldn't you lead with this? Because you're a bloody liar!) At this point you've had enough, and may be tempted to ask to see the death certificate, and then you'll consider it.

But do nothing. Just out wait them – like gulls, they are good at hovering – but make no sudden movements. And definitely don't reach towards your pockets. It's nothing but a signal.

You see – like Raptors- they hunt in packs.

As soon as the first left, I was approached by two more, and could count five wandering the park, in total. For the final two I simply shook my head, no, when they asked if I spoke English. And with that they just kind of wandered away. Which was great. No breadcrumbs here for you today.

But then, as I entered the subway, I realized that there were two of them hiding in the bushes that I wasn't even aware of. How did I know this? Because I counted all seven, as they pushed to the front of the subway entrance turnstile, to then hop over it, climb under it, or snake around it before jumping on the car. As one of the tourists said, “man they have balls here!” Don't they though.

And I hate these people. And I run into them all over the world. Even once in Toronto. But never have they been so brazen. If you want to beg, just bloody do it – if someone's resolved to say no, leave them alone. You'll only end up causing racist thoughts in people who may think that everyone who looks like you, acts like you. And it's not true – but people have hated entire groups of people based on less. But if you are scamming off of tourists, my god, have the decency to use a fraction of that to buy a bloody metro ticket. Even Homeless Santa pays to ride the TTC between Ossington and Union!

So that's why I hate Paris. I'm sure there will be more reasons in the coming days, but that's enough complaining, because I can't hate this city for too long. It's just so wonderfully beautiful and full of life.

We now return to our regularly scheduled love in.


  1. '5 cent girl'

    I had to laugh when reading this part. I encountered the same when in Italy. It happened ALL throughout Italy so it must be a cultural thing and not a personal one. I'm really not certain but it's definitely annoying!

  2. i live in paris. and i hate it, and the obnoxious people, about as much as you do. but you put it so eloquently! apparently in paris, the customer is never right, bitch..
    oh also: beggars using kids or pets as props. really grinds my gears!

  3. This was so funny. The gypsies [romanians] approached us a few times. We replied "no" to them in English. And I thought they'd catch on, so I turned to my friend and started speaking gibberish.

  4. For some reason, I googled "why i hate paris" today, and voila, your blog popped up. Strangely, I too am from Toronto and over the years I've travelled here and there ... with me, typically for business but along the way, I think I picked up a few tips on how to travel well. I've visited over 300 cities and every time I experience a great new place the thought of how much I hate Paris comes up. Not so much France but Paris ... a Japanese friend of mine finally articulated better than anyone else. "Paris does not have any yattais". Yattai is a Japanese word for those tiny street eateries that are open and people cram in to eat meat sticks and drink. The fact is I love cheap, dingy, local places to eat and drink. In every great city in the world, I've always been able to easily find a suitable dingy local place. Whether it's a yattai in Tokyo, a pub in London, a beer keller in Munich, or a skid bar in Toronto ... everywhere except Paris. I've been there 4 times now each time digging deeper into the bowels of the city and all i find are smaller places, perhaps with a tad bit less snobby staff, but still proudly boasting the 12 Euro beer. I've really tried ... and my French is not entirely bad. It just seems that Parisians are particularly good at hiding the local gems. I am still hopeful that one day, I'll find a sensible Parisian cafe with a bouquet of toothless, well-bereted, locals debating politics and complaining about American rap music ... thanks for the good read ... I'll check out your other adventures as well. Tom.

  5. Dear god - I just spent 48 hours in Paris and it sucked so hard I will NEVER return.

    The police stand around and do nothing when crimes are occuring right in front of them. Stop a pick pocket? Are you serious? I'm busy blocking this road for no apparent reason.

    Montmarte is an obnoxious tourist trap. Avoid it like the plague.

    Large amounts of the food suck - many resturants just don't seem to care anymore.

    A massive disappointment - and this is from someone who loved the city just 12 years ago. What the hell happened?

  6. You are an idiot in some respects!

    People that live in Paris pay taxes that subsidise the Metro.

    So as a benefit they get a cheaper weekly season ticket than those that don't contribute to the Metro through there taxes.

    And it is not just tourists that it applies to but also anybody that lives in France but doesn't either live or work in Paris.

    Typical tourist! Expects to pay nothing and get treated like royalty.

    Look at USA? They also charge non-state residents MORE for certain permits such as hunting licences etc.

  7. And the French wonder why people don't like them?

    This is why they have televised commercials telling them to be nice to other people. It seems the message just isn't getting across.

  8. so go back to where the hell you're from ! there's way too many of you crawling around our streets in Paris.

    A Parisian...

    1. Really ignorant reply - tourists help boast the economy and I think I speak for most people when I say that a little pleasant interacttion costs nothing. Considering your city is not looking too good the least you could do is be pleasant. I have been to Svalbard near the North Pole and these people who live there should be annoyed considered the elements are so harsh, but they still manage a smile and some helpful information. Basically they make you feel welcome. I think if you arrive in Paris with a crate full of cigarettes to give out to the beggars and extra money to give to the beggars and last but not least speaking fluent French then maybe we would be made to feel welcome.

  9. It seems everything you hate about Paris has nothing to do with Paris itself,

    Except the Metro, but the thing about tax payers is true, also you can buy a book of 10 metro tickets for €12. each ticket will take you one trip, to any station.

    Those Romanian beggars are not limited to Paris, every European city I have been in ( including Bristol, England, where I live) have beggars of different nationalities with the postcards giving information in English of their dying son, brother etc etc. You just ignore them.

    Also on my recent trip to Paris I was asked for the '5 cents' etc on numerous occasions, I am asked for this fairly often in any country I visit, and very often at home. It's not because they can't count out the 95 cents. its because they are not a bank and do not have an endless supply of change. when I have worked in tearooms etc I often ask the same, especially working in touristy areas when tourists constantly present you with notes.

    It is a famous big city, of course there are going to be tourist traps.

    You are of course entitled to hate Paris, don't get me wrong, but don't hate it for the wrong reasons!

  10. It's true about the beggars. I am Romanian and felt really embarrassed when an old lady approached me. Unfortunately for her, before asking me if I speak English, I heard her muttering some unpleasant Romanian words.
    It was enough to make me ashamed of my own country and of some of the people sharing my language.

  11. how about you go back to where the hell you're from and stop loitering if you don't like the place ?
    Nobody cares really.

  12. Im here and Im fleeing after three days. I was to stay 8. I've never met more people resistant to kindness. So you have big guady buildings. You reek of colonge and your city smells of pies. Keep it

  13. I have been living in Paris for over 6 months now and all I can say is honestly, it is the worst city I have visited in Europe.
    In my first month I had my flat broken into and all my electronics stolen (I live near the Bastille, not a bad area at all). A month after that I was leaving the Gare du Nord station to get a taxi and was held up by two drug addicts with a knife. The first time I had a horrible experience with the police with them insinuating that maybe my flat got robbed because I was gay (which I'm not) as they thought I couldn't understand their French. The second time I had a great lady help me.
    But on a day to day basis I encounter rude people on the metro who push and argue continually, people fighting in the stations, beggars, scams and Roma wherever you go continually asking for money.
    Even in the established bars I have on several occasions been overcharged (once by over a hundred and fifty euros) and simply been told I don't remember ordering the drinks.
    I have never been in a city more hostile to foreigners, more disagreeable and with such an incompetent police force. If you are Parisian I am sorry but it is true in London we will always be kind to tourists and foreign expats as they are a great source of income and culture, and our police force take pride in stopping crime, rather than skulking off the moment their shift ends and hanging around typically low crime areas to avoid paperwork.
    All in all, Paris is awful!

  14. Sounds like a tourist who didn't do any research on their destination, fell into every tourist trap and blamed their misfortunate existance on a city.

  15. Re 95 cents change. Think about it, its an equilibrium between customer and cashier anywhere in the world. I would be irritated with you too. Most people would dig a nickel out of their pocket. You are bringing on a lot of negativity with your own attitude. Why couldn't you treat the girl with a little politeness and admit you have a nickel but if she could give you change you'd really appreciate it. Do you think politesse is a one way street? You seem very critical and sarcastic.

    Anyway thanks for the heads up on the beggar scene. I'll bring a fly swatter on my upcoming trip to Paris. I hope the Parisians aren't as hornery as the Italians have become--w the exception of the Milanos who still have a sense of decency toward tourists.

  16. LOL - my first day in Paris after ignoring several warnings from several people (all but one) who have been to Paris. In my first day I fell to a tourist trap (one hundred percent my fault though). But the truth is, Parisians, not French in general, have an attitude problem where they are always right regardless if you are the customer. Today I almost got into a fight with the hotel staff for walking into the prep room, although the door was open, I was told I was supposed to ask for permission (LOL) anyways, I said sorry, but he kept going on and on, until I said ""ok what do you want to do about this?" and stood in front of his face looking at him on the eyes, he back away like a girl cussing in French LOL. I am really glad that I'm only here for a couple of nights and then off to London (I heard from a Japanese that London was the city with the nicest people? we will see) Anyways, Paris is beautiful no doubt, girls are gorgeous, the language is sexy, but the attitude just sucks... also, I don't know if this is normal but motorcycles speeding up when older handicapped ladies are crossing the street??? LOL

  17. Paris is a total dump.
    I've lived and traveled all over the world and wouldn't go back to that poor excuse of a city for anything.
    It's dirty! It's Rude! It's overpriced and overhyped.
    Never never go there if you can help it!

  18. Nice one champ, love it.

    Oh and another note on the bloody metro ticket when you come to Australia your not going to pay a f@&$ing city tax every time you stay in a hotel.

    God dam ripoff.

    Your charging me extra to hang around in your city every additional night while im contributing to your economy?

    In fact you'll be rewarded by getting some of the tax back that our government taxs you as you depart for spending you hard earned cash in our country.

    Your just adding insult with you piss poor french supirour asshole attitude. Lots of additives there.

    Europe summer? My ass just because the suns out for 1 min is not summer.

    Your beloved Eiffle tower is a brown piece of scaffolding that's smaller than expected, yes size does matter. There's no wonder why everyone looks at it at night. At least our bridge is useful and bigger.

    Anyhow a little bit of parting advice for the gypsy's. For the deaf ones that speak and hear perfectly. Take their clipboard and draw the biggest penis you can before even looking like your going to hand over any cash.

    Then say Piss off gypsy. They always seem to hear and comprehend that phrase perfectly.

    I hate parie! Don't worry I'm going home.

    Your lucky you have some cool stuff in your boarders to keep the suckers visiting.

  19. totally identify with your post .. and how about the pee smelling metro?. I lived in paris for two years, only tourist seem to like it cause of course is nice to enjoy the two week postcard image it leads...but living there is another thing: beggars around every monument, dog shit everywhere on the streets, apartments that are about to fell down with people there living like sardines, over bureaucracy and the personel giving you incomplete information wonder africans makes the higher immigrating population in france cause only people coming from extreme conditions would enjoy that living...honestly! Hollywood had paint a way too romantic image of the place to the masses.

  20. I hate it here too.Didn't pick to come either.It was for my husbands job.And I don't loiter,I just stay in my small box of an apartment and wait till I can go home again.I have it way better at home and have already seen enough sites to want to leave already.Like the 1st week.I see nothing grand or magical about being here at all.Everything is too expensive,and nothing is that great.I will miss nothing at all when I get to go home.

  21. I just want to point out that all the people saying I got taken in by scams, or that I didn't research, didn't actually read the article.

    I'd also like to point out, that many times I talk about how lovely Paris is in this article, and how I don't actually hate it.

    But, you know, carry on with the hate.

  22. I hate Paris too, it's a dirty city.

  23. It is wonderful to read your post. And also the comments. I wonder why some parisians are so, so unkind with strangers of any kind. I live in Paris on my 4th year, I had a son, and I If I was really in love all my love with french culture (I learn the language & culture since the school) I definately decide move next year. I came with a lot of expectatives, first of all about people and activities and almost all that we, me and my husband has found is a really bitter taste and sadness. I feel very lonely in a place where we suposed to love and any of its beauties corresponds to any kind of god treatment to the foreigners. It is a extremelly racist city and an ultra snob city,despite the beauty of the city itself.
    Im glad not feel ridiculous when I hate Parisians and Paris too...

  24. After two days in Paris, I find that since my last time there about fifteen years ago, the service and attitude of Parisians as hosts and hostesses, have not at all improved.

    The ones with whom I had exchanges, did not know their own city. Since my map and the road signs did not agree, an inquiry as to whether I was on the correct way,
    was met with a curt and dismissive 'Je ne sais pas'.
    I was only two blocks from the Pantheon.

    In the bookstore of the Chateau de Vincennes, I was told by an insolent girl-child clerk that I could not walk around with the DVD I had chosen; that I had to pay for each item first; that it was store policy to discourage customers from reading pamphlets available in the store. It was my purpose to choose other items before paying; a common practice here at home in Toronto. I was no doubt a suspect pilferer. Stunned by their incredible business acumen,
    I decided to buy nothing at all and told her so.
    She said that that was fine.

    Since I had much time till my train, I was strolling at la Gare du Nord when a short French woman in a rush, bumped into me. I held her arm to stop her from falling and asked if she was OK. 'Ca va?' The look both she and her friend gave me was as if it were my fault. They grumbled something abusive, turned to look at me and strutted away.

    And then there was the lady old enough to be their grandmother.She was ahead of me chatting about her ticket to the two young women at the security and ticket control before walking to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. She clearly could not speak French and was quite out of sorts already. They yelled at her to open her bag. 'Just open your bag!'

    These are a few examples from a short stay ... and the bar floor in what used to be the Paris Opera, stank of urine!
    ...bums and beggars in the Metro...I can continue!
    At 70 million visitors a year, they may feel fine abusing their guests because so many others will come when today's leave.

    A bas Paris.
    A bas les Parisiens.
    Paris is beautiful.
    Parisians don't deserve their city.
    Screw'em all!

    For exquisite hospitality, may I highly recommend
    Kyoto, Tokyo, all of Japan.
    Cape Town, South Africa.
    And when the political rubbish has passed,
    go to Iran. Yes! The people are wonderful.

    1. My son and I just returned recently from a trip to Paris.
      If i won a free trip there I would happily give it away! The place is dirty, the people are rude and the beggars beggar belief. As soon as we arrived at Gare Du Nord, we both lit up a cigarette and that attracted a throng of people asking for une cigarette. My son gave one away only to be accosted by another in short succession. I offered him a roll up and he refused! Turned his lips up like I was asking him to eat something distastful. After that no more of our cigarettes parted company. All this happened in about the first 10 minutes of being in Paris. We had a nice hotel, but it was obviously in a crap area so we gave this benefit of the doubt and took a taxi into the city centre only to find that the only difference was that the streets happened to be wider. Still dirty, full of beggars, people pretending to be deaf (who after bothering us for sometime annoyed me and I told them to f@@k off and they seemed to understand that - so much for being deaf). Anyway we saw the Louvre and Jim Morrisons grave and booked tickets back on Eurostar a day early and came home. All told we managed a day and a half. We have travelled to some really out of the way places and have never experienced this kind of rudeness. Shame on them!

  25. I thought when I came to Paris that it is a love city , I hated it since the moment I entered , people are so bad with bad treatment and so arrogant . Most of the taxi drivers are rude and no one is supportive even in hotels . At the budabar they tell you are not allowed to enter with a ports shoe and you are going to spend money and they say this Paris budabar. I ve seen cities all over the world with more nice people. Will never return to this city .they don't deserve to be called the city of love they need to be called the city of assholes

  26. We are an American family, having just returned from 10 days in France.

    If you are a Midwesterner and your French is pretty good, go to Bretagne (Brittany). Visit Perros-Guirec and Lannion. Stay at Kerdeval in Penvenan -- a charming "Chambre d'hote" (kind of like an American bed and breakfast). The hosts are lovely and patient people who put up with our crazy hours and our flawed French. We were able to converse with them a little bit and by the time we left, I felt like they were friends. Bretons are a bit shyer and more private, in our experience -- a lot like midwesterners in some ways. Much kinder and gentler than Parisians.

    Paris. Paris was hell. From start to finish. I don't even know how to sum it all up.

    Still chuckling at the Parisienne customer who scolded me for taking a photo of the baskets of fruit in the open-air market. "How would you like it if people came to where you live and took photos of you and your things?" Really? You mean like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau? Those totally unknown French street photographers? Kind of like that? I had no idea that fruit was so sensitive to being photographed.

    Not chuckling at the car rental company (Sixt) that rented us a lemon (a Renault Fluence) which died on the expressway. Their "roadside assistance" never came (we waited for 4 hours). In Paris, if your car dies on the expressway, you must pay the local S.O.S. 175 Euros to tow the car to a city street (approximately 1/2 km). From there, roadside assistance can help you. Except that they never did. So we took a cab to our hotel and decided to deal with it in the morning. When they finally came (after accusing me of leaving the car in the middle of the street -- was actually parked in a parking spot), they started the car and told me to drive it to the airport. This same car that had been spewing smoke and refusing to drive the night before because the clutch was fried (the "gear box"). They wanted me to drive a broken car to the airport. That was their idea of roadside assistance. I told them to tow it to the garage and it is now their problem.

    Unfortunately, our contract is still open and they have not yet charged us for the rental. I can ONLY imagine what they will charge us for this horrifying experience.

    And if that wasn't bad enough, we paid 70 Euros for a taxi ride from Bagnolet to CDG airport on the day of our departure. ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR A TWENTY MINUTE CAB RIDE.

    Shopkeepers and waitstaff were generally polite to us -- or civil, at the very least. I speak enough French to get by and that seems to help a great deal.

    The museums are great. The food is edible. Touristy and mediocre, at best (and WAY overpriced). If you want to experience great French cuisine, do your research and SAVE YOUR PENNIES. You will spend $100 per person to have a nice meal. Sadly, you will still spend $70 per person to have mediocre meal. Otherwise, hit the ethnic neighborhoods for good ethnic food at reasonable prices or buy from street vendors. For lunch, just grab some quiche and bread from a boulangerie...or head to a grocery store and get yogurt, fruit, etc.

    But yes, it is a filthy, stinking city of obnoxious people and criminals and pushy, dirty people who do not bathe enough -- and I will never return. And I will make a point to tell people to stay the hell away from Paris.

    Instead, come to Chicago -- it's a beautiful city with fantastic museums, parks, hotels, restaurants -- and we will welcome you with open arms. :) And if anything goes wrong, SOMEONE WILL HELP YOU.

  27. Just returned from six day trip to Paris. I'm glad I went because all my romantic notions of Paris were debunked. I want to say that from my limited experience visiting Barcelona, Athens, London, and various American cities, I believe the French can out-build everyone. The buildings are gigantic, beautiful, ornate, exquisite, etc... But, aside from the most famous tourist attractions, the city is dirty and smelly. The metro reeks of urine and people openly urinate on the street. I walked from Gare du l'est to the KFC and witnessed a woman telling her 5 year old son (my guess) to urinate on the street. I am not afraid to say many people downright stink. I almost passed out on the metro next to a gentleman that could not have have taken a shower in the past week. No, he didn't appear to be homeless. I was cheated at the McDonald's by an employee who said I didn't give her a 50 euro note but a 20 euro note. When I asked about checking a camera that was above the register, she dismissed me but I was later told the camera was fake. Can you believe that? Back to the metro, they are also very hot. The buses are hot, so summer is uncomfortable. I don't think in general that the people are any ruder than people in big cities all over the world but I do think the workers are ruder than in other cities. We did have some good experiences in a couple of restaurants. We were a group of 3 adults and 1 child and ran up tabs of 100 euro, 88 euro, and 112 euro on three different nights that we went out. Only the last meal was worth it. Our experience at the first place was very pleasant the owner was host, bartender, cook and he made us feel very welcome and was generous with his drinks. We went late at night so that may be why the food wasn't great. The second place had horrible food and drinks but the waitstaff was friendly so we left a tip anyway. The last place was near the Eiffel tower and we had a slight wait but the waiter was wonderful. The food was great and we completely enjoyed our time there. So, I am in no hurry to return to Paris even though I must return to the Louvre. Aside from the heat and the wait, being in the presence of so much beauty and creativity is awe-inspiring. The French must do something about the odor however. Either reduce the rate people pay for water or simply call them out on how badly they smell.


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