Paris is one of the most famous cities in the world – we debunk some of the classic myths here!
Books, movies, the internet, friends and family who have visited before…this world is crawling with assumptions about Paris. Go here, don’t go there, eat this, don’t eat that, shop here, avoid there…with all this advice out there it’s hard to know what to take as the real deal.
We’ve been living in Paris for quite a while now and we think that at this point we know our stuff…keep reading to find out 5 pretty stupid myths about Paris – debunked!
Myth 1: Walking tours are lame
Okay – since we do happen to be a walking tour company that happens to be writing an article about Paris myths… we HAD to mention this one right off the bat!
This is something that we hear ALL. THE. TIME.
Editor’s note: And do you want the honest truth? I used to be the same way… thinking I didn’t need a tour, I could *organically* discover all I needed to know about a place through exploring on my own. But after starting to take tours through work, well, I learned the difference and started to appreciate smart tourism. Read on….
“Walking tours are just for lame tourists….” Ummm….we beg to differ! As seasoned travelers, one of the first things we do when we arrive in a new city is do our research on different walking tours.
Think of it this way – you get to have a resident of said city, who has been trained to (or has maybe created themselves!) teach curious tourists all there is to know. They’ve (hopefully) curated the information for travelers so you don’t have to dig through the internet or *gasp* the library for information on your own. It’s a way to hardline all the best and most important information to your brain with truly minimal effort on your part.
It’s a way to hardline all the best and most important information to your brain with truly minimal effort on your part.
Of course finding the right company to tour with is essential, and that’s where a little bit of research on your end comes in. The majority of our clients find us on the site TripAdvisor – we recommend this as a good starting point because you can see unbiased reviews of the company from a truly global audience.
Myth 2: You Must Climb the Eiffel Tower
We’ve touched on this before, when we let you in on the stunning Eiffel Tower alternatives… but this myth is definitely worth mentioning again!
While the Eiffel Tower is obviously a major symbol of Paris, is it the best view in the city? No.
Is it crawling with tourists and scam artists? Yes.
The Eiffel Tower is a must-see, don’t get us wrong, but why not head to the Place du Trocadero for an amazing view of the tower from a bit of a distance?
After taking a few pictures from there, you can walk down through the Trocadero Gardens, walk across the Iéna Bridge, and you’ll quickly find yourself in front of the Tower.
Take our advice and snap a few pictures here, and then move on. Then read this article to find out where some truly remarkable – and unique – views can be found.
Myth 3: Paris is for Lovers
This one may come off as a head-scratcher at first because of Paris’ stereotype as one of the most romantic cities in the world. And Paris can definitely be a very romantic city… but we are busting myths and breaking through stereotypes here! Paris is NOT just for lovers, people…
Paris is, OF COURSE, an amazing place to come with your sweetheart. But pourquoi pas have an adventure with your best friends? Or your family? Or even solo?!
There are plenty of things to do in this city, whether you are with friends, family, or flying solo. Museums, picnics, evening strolls, café people-watching, delicious restaurants…none of these things require you to have a romantic partner with you.
Yes, you can drink champagne on the banks of the Seine… but you can also see punk rock concerts, hang out with skateboarders and bmx-ers at Republique or in front of Palais de Tokyo, meet street artists making their work, learn about wine, learn to cook, relax with a book in a park, go to a unique movie theater like Studio 28 or La Pagode, have a coffee at a cat cafe…. I could go on, but what you need to know is there is something here for everyone if you only look (and if you need help looking, I recommend this).
For us, traveling is about making memories and discovering new things no matter where you are or who you decide to share it with (or not! We’ll say again we are huge supporters of solo travel). Don’t feel pressured to wait to come to Paris with a romantic partner…this city has plenty to offer you just how you are!
Myth 4: Paris is Too Touristy
I would be lying if I didn’t admit that there are plenty of tourists in Paris. It is a world famous city and this attracts throngs of people everyday.
To illustrate this: a whopping 40 million tourists were estimated to visit the Greater Paris area in 2017 alone!
That being said, there are certain areas in the city that are a lot more touristy than others. The center of the city, with all of its world famous landmarks like the Louvre, Notre-Dame, the Eiffel Tower etc. are usually where everyone tends to go.
We suggest you break the mold and head to the outer arrondissements, notably in the north of Paris. If you head to the 18th, 19th, or 20th arrondissements you’re sure to find a “hidden Paris” that is relatively unknown to most foreign visitors! We recommend checking out the canals Saint Martin and Ourcq, the Parc de la Villette, and the Parc Buttes-Chaumont…as a good start.
Myth 5: The French Are Rude
Ohh, this all time classic stereotype of Parisians: “The French are so rude and unhelpful!”, “Parisian waiters are so rude!”…the list goes on.
I’m going to be a little frank here, but bear with me because it’s important:
I find that many travelers from Western countries assume that the culture in France is similar, if not exactly the same, to their own… even if only because France is a Western country as well. This is not the case! And that’s where they go wrong….
In fact, the French’s standard for politeness, their behavior, and their traditions are very different from our Anglophone cultures (see: restaurant etiquette- that’s a BIG one). I think that a lot of this gets lost in translation at times, and can contribute to the assumption/feeling that French people are all rude. As someone who has been living here for quite sometime, and who has made some amazing French friends, I can say this is just not true!
There is some responsibility on you, though, if you want to avoid experiencing surly French people (just as you might experience surly New Yorkers, Londoners, etc.). I am a firm believer in learning just a few words in the foreign countries language that I am visiting before I go.
Let’s talk about why: Imagine if you were in your home country and a foreign tourist approached you, speaking their own language, assuming you’d understand? And what if they got really mad and frustrated when you had no idea what they were saying?
You might not react too well, huh? You might get frustrated yourself, and think (or even say) “If you’re in my country, speak my language!”
Well you just hit the nail on the head. Welcome to many Parisians’ world!
Okay yes: English is widely spoken all over the world. And yes, many Parisians speak at least a little bit of English. However, that still doesn’t give you a free pass out of learning a simple “Bonjour, parlez-vous anglais?”
Sometimes that is all you’ll need to break through the so-called rude French surface.
You hear a lot of advice out there, but now you know: if you hear one of these 5 things, don’t believe it. It’s a myth!
There you have it, Sight Seeker’s I hope I was able to clear up any questions you may have had about myths about Paris! As always, comment below with any feedback or suggestions on something I may have forgotten!