While the famous phrase “To see Paris and die” really means that someone has finally attained their ultimate dream of seeing the city and can now die happy, people today are taking it literally. They are so disappointed by the city, they almost literally want to die after visiting Paris. It’s not the city that they had seen in movies, read about in books, and heard about at travel agencies. And it turns out, this is a worldwide phenomenon.
We at Bright Side were really frustrated when we found out that there is even a so-called Paris syndrome — a psychological disorder in people disappointed by the capital of France. We describe it in detail in the bonus.
1. Long lines to the Eiffel Tower observation deck and matted grass on the lawn
Before traveling to Paris, everyone dreams of seeing the most important sight in the city — the Eiffel Tower. A lot of tourists also want to go to the observation deck. The first failed expectation is when you get into the huge line of tourists that want to visit the tower too. The second disappointment is when the guards check you at the entrance, as if you are at the airport again. You’ll end up spending several hours in the line before you finally get to the deck.
After all of this stress, you might want to have a rest and have a picnic on the grass. But don’t be too fast. There are some other unpleasant discoveries coming your way. For example, the perimeter of the lawn may be surrounded by a fence if there is some kind of an event, or even worse, a public demonstration. Maybe you will get some space on the lawn but the grass is all matted and missing in spots.
- It is better to enjoy the view of the Eiffel Tower from a distance. This is why we recommend going to the Montmartre district and climbing the Sacré-Cœur stairs. This is a great observation point that you can see the entire city from.
2. Huge crowds at the Louvre entrance
Of course, another popular place is the Louvre. Many travelers that didn’t buy the tickets in advance have recommended getting in the line before the museum opens. Of course, this makes sense, but it still doesn’t mean you won’t spend many hours standing in that line. This is really exhausting and it is hard to enjoy art after such a challenging line. After the line, you can’t even remember why you came to the Louvre in the first place.
- It is best to buy an online ticket in advance, in order to be in the line for visitors that have their tickets. Another option is to buy tickets in advance but at regular newsstands that are located all around the city. They sell tickets to many museums in Paris. But if you couldn’t do that, there is a great life hack you should know: you can get into the museum almost without any lines in the shopping mall Carrousel du Louvre. In La Civette Du Carrousel, you can buy the tickets to the Louvre and other museums much faster than anywhere else. Then, follow the signs that will lead you to the reversed pyramid and the museum entrance is in front of it. You will get into an underground hall with the ticket windows where everyone is trying to get waiting in the lines above. Here, you can also buy tickets easily if all the previous options didn’t work.
3. A large number of people are trying to take a photo of the Mona Lisa and there are glares on the glass.
After the Louvre lines have been visited, people rush to see the mysterious smile girl — Mona Lisa. Obviously, everyone wants to see the painting from close up. But this is difficult because there are a lot of people trying to take a picture of the painting or get closer to it. When you finally approach the painting, you will see that the glare on the protective glass won’t allow you to photograph it. Finding the right angle is virtually impossible. Besides, in real life, the painting is small and you can’t really get close enough to it to fully enjoy the masterpiece.
- This painting is not the only thing this museum has: the Louvre has a huge collection of world art that you can spend hours looking at. Many of their pieces are really easy to see. Besides, the museum itself is worth enjoying: the interior, the ceiling, and the views from the windows are mind-blowing. And also, there are benches near the windows that will allow you to rest and enjoy the view.
4. Real French women don’t look anything like the ones they show in films.
The films with French actresses make them look like stylish and charming mysterious girls. They wear perfect clothes (with a beret), they are independent, and they look stunning. Many girls want to look like French women, they want to learn something about style from them. And they are really confused when, in Paris, they see women wearing regular clothes, no makeup, and with no manicure.
- In real life, they are regular women that are not fixated on their appearances. But there is an important correction: young French girls are like this, but by the age of 50, they undergo a transformation. They start wearing elegant clothes, they wear makeup, and they get their nails done. And they really are stunning and have something to teach to others.
5. Some sights were either removed or are being renovated.
The magnificent Le Pont des Arts is a place where not only tourists are drawn but also people in love. They had a tradition to put locks of love on it. Over time, the bridge had thousands of locks that shaped its unique appearance that used to attract people like a magnet. The weight of the locks was 45 tons and there was a danger that it could fall. So, in 2015, the city authorities decided to remove almost all the locks. They left only some of them in order to be a reminder of what it used to look like. But the uninformed people are still disappointed because they expect to see it covered with locks.
- Before the trip, you should make a list of the things you want to see and find out if some of the sights are under the reconstruction or completely removed. You can walk on the bridge and there are benches you can enjoy a beautiful view of the city from.
6. There are few places where people speak English.
The French speak pretty good English, but for some unknown reason, they don’t always want to speak it. It may happen that the staff in a restaurant don’t speak English or speak with an accent that will make it hard to understand. Also, there may be no menus in English, only exclusively in French, so you will have to guess what is what. At least it won’t be boring.
- First of all, try speaking English. If they don’t understand you, you should have a plan B: download an English-French dictionary on your phone. And even better, if you learn a couple of simple phrases that will help you win the person’s trust. And when a waiter sees that you are trying to speak their language, they will do everything they can to make sure you have a great time.
7. The servings in restaurants are small and the food is expensive.
Don’t expect to overeat in a French restaurant. The portions there are very small, and very expensive.
- There are several possible solutions to this problem: from a usual picnic with wine, cheese, and a baguette to a life hack. In restaurants, there is always a daily special that costs less than other dishes. Also, don’t go to the cafes located downtown and make sure there are no popular sights around. For example, a coffee with a dessert near the Louvre will cost you around €18. And the same order will cost you about €7 somewhere near the Pantheon in Paris. But you can also find cheaper places because, in that area, there are a lot of educational institutions, including the Sorbonne. There are many students in the area, so there are cheap cafes.
8. Broken dreams about photos in empty places
Thousands of tourists will be in the places near all the sights in the city. The Trocadéro site that offers the best view of the Eiffel Tower is always packed with people, the same is true for Notre-Dame de Paris. And there are very few people that manage to snap a picture without a lot of people there.
- If you want to get a beautiful picture, be ready to make a sacrifice. In this case, you’ll have to sacrifice your sleep because these places are relatively empty only in the very early morning or very late evening. But who cares about sleep when there is a chance to take a great picture. Also, this is a trip that doesn’t last forever, so you should take any chance you get.
9. Urinals located in the central streets
The visitors of the city are shocked by the street urinals that are located right in the middle of the streets. For example, there are several urinals that are not far from Notre-Dame de Paris. These public toilets are a relatively new thing for Paris. They appeared in 2018 as an attempt to protect the cleanliness of the streets. Of course, other European cities also have these urinals, but it doesn’t make them any more attractive. The biggest question is this: why are the new urinals so minimalistic and open? The history of public toilets in the city had far better versions.
10. There is a lot of trash in Paris.
Many tourists complain that Paris is dirty. Even the central streets are piled with trash that nobody is eager to remove.
- Maybe we should try and not pay too much attention to the trash that piles up by the end of the day. But if it bothers you too much, start walking around the city in the morning. This is the time when the city has been thoroughly cleaned.
11. Feeling unsafe
In the city, there are a huge number of immigrants of different nationalities. Some of them bother tourists near every sight, trying to sell all kinds of useless stuff to them. And they get really angry if nobody buys anything. This is actually not very dangerous. But there are districts that you should never go into. The most dangerous places are the areas of the North (Gare du Nord) and East (Gare de L’Est) railway stations, and Saint-Denis.
- If you walk around the most popular tourist routes, you will mostly see tourists like yourself. But you should definitely go to the districts where the French noble people live: Temple (3rd arrondissement), Hôtel de Ville (4th arrondissement), Luxembourg (6th arrondissement), Palais Bourbon (7th arrondissement), and Passy (16th arrondissement).
Bonus: Paris syndrome and failed expectations
Many travelers agree that Paris is not the most hospitable city in the world. People often see that the staff in Paris are not very welcoming. This is where the Paris syndrome came from. Tourists have very high hopes for the city and its inhabitants. This psychological disorder was first diagnosed in 1986 by Japanese psychiatrist Hiroaki Ota. It is mostly spread among the Japanese tourists that are not ready to see the unwelcoming French.
- Remember that Paris is an amazing city with a rich history, impeccable architecture, and its own charm. Even if you don’t fall in love with it, you should definitely visit it at least once. And try not to pay attention to the little things, because you are in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. “Paris is so significant and grandiose because the world has loved it for generations even though people don’t really know it,” Mikhail German once said.
Have you ever been to Paris? If yes, what impression did the city leave on you?
Illustrated by Ekaterina Gapanovich for BrightSide.me