Paris, like many other cities all over the world, has been associated with specific stereotypes and perceptions that are often quite far from reality.
And it is true that if you really want to visit a country, a city or a small village and to understand the daily life of their inhabitants you have to put aside all the travel myths that you have heard. Try to discover the real face of each destination and what makes any place, not another spot on the map, but a special, unforgettable experience.
Paris is a beautiful, fascinating, and ultra-modern destination!
At the same time Is probably one of the cities that “drag” behind the most controversial travel myths. Travel myths that if you follow them literally you will diminish your travel experience in the “City of Light”.
The following list deconstructs the 6 most common stereotypes for the French capital. The things that you should avoid if you want to know the real beauty of Paris!
1. Do Not go shopping in the Champs Elysees
It is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful avenues in the world. The Champs-Elysées is always a reference point for the French capital and a glamorous destination. However, over the decades, the onslaught of globalization has left its mark on this all-Parisian landmark, significantly altering its uniqueness.
Now, next to the impressive Louis Vuitton boutique, where all lovers of high fashion gather, you will see stores of clothing, and accessories, as well as famous cosmetics companies with shops in every possible corner of the globe. This means that what you buy here you could potentially find in your city, so why lose time and money as well?
Instead, be sure to list the Galeries Lafayette department store on your shopping list, especially if you happen to visit Paris at Christmas, as it is where you set up one of the most beautiful and special fir trees you will ever see in your life.
If, on the other hand, you want to discover the “hidden” diamonds of Parisian finesse, those precious secrets that make you look truly unique and elegant, visit the small, cute boutiques of Le Marais district.
For wonderful and unique pieces of clothing visit Maison Kitsune, Officine Générale, Sezane, for office accessories you have to check the Papier Tigre, while at Atelier Couronnes you will find beautiful accessories and decorative items for your home.
2. Do Not spend a fortune on Michelin-star restaurants
As in any big city in the world, in Paris, the gastronomic choices are inexhaustible and according to any budget, food preference, or habit. In this spectacular city, that “gave birth” to the cuisine that eventually influenced almost all modern gastronomic approaches on the planet, “fine dining” still dominates and reigns.
In a capital flooded with Michelin-star rated restaurants, it will not be difficult to find the one that suits your taste. But you should definitely keep in mind that the cost for a complete menu can be very high, reaching 400 to 500 euros per person. Among the restaurants that definitely stand out is the classy Le Clarence, but also the very beautiful Dame de Pic.
On the other hand, Paris is full of tasteful, small restaurants with great food in which you will eat very well without spending thousands.
Try Le Comptoir du Relais in Saint Germain des Pres, an elegant bistro on the Michelin Guide list. Here you will need to book a table as soon as you buy the tickets for your trip, as there is a long waiting list. However, if you cannot find availability for dinner, try to visit it at noon, when the world is typically less crowded. Arrive early, as there are no reservations for lunch.
3. Do Not hope that you will see all of The Louvre exhibits
In fact, it is futile to try. The reason is simple: the museum is huge, so huge that you will get tired very soon and you will not enjoy the visit anymore.
Yes, The Louvre is definitely the most important museum in Paris, “home” to millions of treasures that deserve your attention.
That’s why so many travelers are pushing themselves so hard to see every corner of this giant museum, but unfortunately, they end up not enjoying their visit. Not at all.
Instead, choose to focus on the exhibits that you consider most special. That way you will not miss an entire day there, but you will also enjoy the browsing experience much more.
Besides, there are smaller but equally great museum institutions in Paris, such as the Orsay Museum (also called the “House of the Impressionists“), the “Le Orangerie” which has a very beautiful section with miniatures, and, of course, the “Pompidou Centre”, one of the most interesting museums of contemporary art in the whole Europe.
4. Do Not take a taxi
Finding a free taxi on the streets of Paris is extremely difficult. You will need to call one from your hotel or find a taxi station where vehicles are waiting for customers. Also, the cost even for the shortest route is very high.
At the same time, visitors who spend only a few days in the French capital, may not be aware that in Paris there is outrageous traffic, and it is very easy to find yourself trapped inside a car even for hours!
So if you want to experience your trip to Paris as an authentic Parisian, try to do what the city’s residents have been doing successfully for centuries: To walk. Yes, the locals love to walk.
Enjoy your walk looking at the shop windows, take a break in one of the countless elegant cafes, and continue your walk while slowly eating a delicious fresh croissant. As for the longer destinations, just use the subway.
Paris has an excellent transit system called “Metro” that serves every corner of the city – inside or outside the city’s center. It is cheap, fast, and stays open until 1 pm (2 pm on Fridays and weekends).
5. Do Not spend a lot of time at the Eiffel Tower
After the bloody attacks by terrorists in Paris over the past decade, the French capital is now a very different city. This means that the security measures are really Draconian and therefore the queues for the Paris attractions, are huge.
This is especially noticeable at the Eiffel Tower, the imposing monument that is a trademark of Paris. The visitors have to wait patiently, even for hours, to get in.
Also, contrary to what urban legend claims, the top of the Eiffel Tower will not give you the best view of the City of Light. Not to mention that the ticket is expensive: there are many options depending on whether you use the elevator or not, but the price can reach up to 90 euros to visit Tower’s top.
If you are thirsty to see the city from above, prefer to climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe or the Montparnasse tower, where the ticket costs much cheaper.
6. Do Not search for the “cheapest” hotel
Yes, Paris is a very expensive city. Everyone knows that. Finding a budget hotel in the French capital can be daunting, so you should consider yourself really lucky when you find that affordable, well-kept double room in a large and famous hotel.
However, before pressing the button to confirm your reservation, make sure that the room you found is not about 1 hour from the city center, because in this case, you will lose a valuable part of Parisian charm.
The capital of France is the real paradise of chic boutique hotels. if it is worth paying more for your stay in a single destination in the world, this is probably none other than Paris.
Take a look at the Hoxton Hotel, with its perfect windows and comfortable sofas in the lobby, at the Hotel National des Arts et Métiers with its delicious signature cocktails, or at the Hotel des Grands Boulevards where you can enjoy the vibes of Parisian nightlife. Another great option is the Hotel Rochechouart in Montmartre, with its Art Deco décor, which is a tribute to the interwar era.
The truth is that from the very first moment that you will breathe the air of this city you will understand why they call Paris the City of Love, the City of Lights!
Romance, art, culture, architecture, gastronomy, and fashion are there, in every corner of this magnificent Capital. Paris’s seductive charms will easily fascinate you, but try to stay away from touristic traps and common city guides to offer to yourself an unforgettable travel experience.