5 Reasons Why I Hate Paris
“I hate Paris.”
Those were words that Brandon had spoken just a few hours after stepping off the train from Germany. I admit that walking around the Gare de l’Est station left me feeling a little disappointed in my perfect vision of Paris but I told Brandon to just wait until we get to the city centre tomorrow to make his judgement. Just wait until you try the food and see Notre Dame and have your first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower!
By the third day I too was hating Paris.
Well, hate is a pretty strong word to describe a city that so many others love. Now that I’m home and have had time to ponder my travel experience I think it’s more accurate to downgrade my emotions to “dislike”. I dislike Paris. Sure, there were some things I enjoyed about the City of Lights such as the unique bouquinistes (booksellers along the Seine River) but there were more things I didn’t enjoy. Here are 5 things I discovered about Paris that I
1. No Toilets
There are very few public toilets in Paris. The ones we managed to find only had a few stalls in them, many reeking from overuse. The public toilet I used around the Notre Dame was tiny, with the men’s urinal was so close to the outside door that you can see their backsides as they’re using the toilet. That was just a little uncomfortable for me. Brandon found a decent toilet at Luxembourg Gardens that wasn’t smelly but they charged €.50 to use it. All the others ones we found were free.
Don’t get me wrong, some of the public toilets known as sanisettes are pretty nice. The downside is that there’s only one toilet that shuts when one person leaves and spends the next 1-2 minutes self-sanitizing before letting the next person in. I stood in line for about 10 minutes for one before giving up and going back to our hotel room.
From a parent’s point of view I’m curious to know how Parisian parents handle toilet trained preschoolers. Standing in line for roughly 20 minutes to use a public restroom is hard enough for some adults, for a 3 year old it would be next to impossible! There were also no baby changing stations, we just changed Stink in her umbrella stroller whenever we needed to. When in Rome…
2. Dust and Dirt Everywhere
Parisian parks have little paving or gravel and lots of dirt. Gusts of wind can create tiny tornadoes that blast you with dust. Playgrounds are the same and at the end of the day we would have to dump out the accumulation of dirt from Stink’s shoes and hose her off in the shower. Luckily there are plenty of laundromats in Paris (unlike Reykjavik) so doing laundry wasn’t a problem at all. But if you’re traveling to Paris with kids be sure to bring plenty of clothes, close-toed shoes and find a laundromat close to your hotel. Trust me, you’ll be doing lots of laundry!
3. The Food
I had been looking forward to eating Parisian food for months before our trip. Croissants, macarons, escargot, my list of foods to try in Paris was endless and my expectations were high. I wasn’t disappointed in anything I tried, the problem is that we visited Germany first where I was surprised to find that Germans bake just as many excellent pastries as the French. By the time we got to Paris every dessert was compared to Germany’s version and some didn’t quite measure up. There were plenty of French dishes we tried, though, that were totally unique and unlike any German food we had eaten.
4. Not Family Friendly
I had heard rumors that Paris was not a great family-friendly destination but I was determined to seek out hotels, restaurants and attractions that could accommodate parents with young children. That wasn’t the biggest problem, the city itself was. Upon arriving at the train station and walking to the metro we were surprised to find that none of the metro stations have elevators for those with strollers or wheelchairs. Every time we needed to hop on the subway we’d have to pack up our stroller and carry Stink down the stairs.
Parks and gardens have multiple tiers to them with an overabundance of stairs but it’s difficult to find ramps. Is that a woman with a stroller over there? Let’s follow her, maybe she knows where there’s a ramp! When Stink was awake we’d simply fold up the stroller and go down the stairs but with a sleeping tot it’s a little trickier. We spent a lot of wasted time looking for ramps to avoid the stairs.
5. Too crowded
Paris was extremely crowded when we visited. To be fair it was a holiday weekend with excellent weather and a tennis match at the Eiffel Tower so the crowds were probably much higher than normal. Still, Paris is a popular tourist destination and that many people in one small city made me feel a little too claustrophobic. The line to get into Notre Dame was about 1/4 mile long, zig-zagging along the plaza in front of the cathedral. The crowds under the Eiffel Tower were so thick with people that we didn’t even want to attempt to cross through them to reach the beautiful carousel on the other side. There were simply too many people in Paris for my comfort level.
In hindsight I wish I had visited Paris 5 years ago before Stink was born. I think I would have enjoyed spending a few hours sitting outside a Parisian cafe sipping cappuccino. But this wasn’t a honeymooner’s vacation, this was a family vacation and it just wasn’t something that worked for us. Will we visit Paris again? Probably not, though I would love to visit the smaller villages in France. From now on I think I will just fall in love with Ernest Hemingway’s or Julia Child’s Paris and enjoy the City of Lights between the pages of a book.