My Love-Hate Relationship with Paris: Top Five Things that Make or Break My Visit

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Paris: Love it or Hate it?

People often say that Paris is the kind of city you either love or you hate. But is it possible to do both?

More than 44 million travelers visited Paris in 2019, and anecdotal reviews of the city vary wildly.

Paris is my favorite city in the world, and the short hop across the English Channel means that I’m able to visit regularly. But no city is perfect, and it’s easy to see why a visit to Paris leaves some travelers with a bitter taste in their mouths.

Here are the top five things I both love and hate about visiting Paris:

The Crowds

Paris is a busy and bustling city, and it can be particularly crowded with tourists during the peak Spring and Summer months.

On the one hand, the crowds make for great people-watching, particularly when you’re sat outside a boulevard café with a coffee. People watching feels like a national sport in Paris, and the more people there are, the better!

On the other hand, visiting a popular attraction such as the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower can be a nightmare. The queues are often long, and the crowds inside can make it difficult to appreciate the art or the view.

The Food

French cuisine is famous worldwide, and Paris is home to some of the best restaurants in the world. From Michelin-starred gourmet experiences to humble street food vendors selling croissants and baguettes, there is something for everyone.

On the one hand, the food is delicious and an integral part of the Parisian experience. Indulging in a pastry and a coffee at a quaint café in the morning or enjoying a romantic dinner at a trendy bistro in the evening is a must-do in Paris.

On the other hand, dining out in Paris can be expensive, and finding a good restaurant that isn’t touristy can be a challenge. Service can also be hit or miss. While some waiters are friendly and helpful, others can be rude and uninterested.

The Architecture

Paris is a city of stunning architectural beauty, from iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame to charming neighborhoods like Montmartre and Le Marais.

On the one hand, the architecture is breathtaking and a big part of what makes Paris so special. Walking around the city, you can stumble upon hidden courtyards and grand boulevards that will take your breath away.

On the other hand, some buildings and monuments can be overrun with tourists, making it difficult to appreciate the beauty. The city is also littered with construction sites, making it hard to avoid cranes and scaffolding.

The Culture

Paris is steeped in history and culture, with world-class museums, galleries, and theaters. From the Louvre to the Opera Garnier, there is no shortage of cultural highlights.

On the one hand, the culture is rich and fascinating, and exploring the city’s art and history is a must-do. From the Musée d’Orsay to the Palace of Versailles, there is so much to see and learn.

On the other hand, some cultural attractions can be overwhelming, particularly if you’re not an art aficionado. Crowds can make it difficult to see the works of art, and the entrance fees can be steep.

The Romance

Paris is known as the City of Love, with its charming streets, cozy bistros, and romantic landmarks. Strolling along the Seine or kissing under the Eiffel Tower are some of the most romantic experiences Paris has to offer.

On the one hand, the romance is palpable in Paris, and the city is a popular destination for couples. Spending time with a loved one in Paris can be a dream come true.

On the other hand, the romance can be overplayed and cliche. Touristy souvenir shops selling heart-shaped trinkets and padlocks can detract from the authentic charm of the city. And if you’re single, the romance can be a bit alienating.


1. Is Paris safe for tourists?

Overall, Paris is a safe city for tourists. However, like any major city, there is a risk of petty crime, especially in crowded tourist areas. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings and keep your valuables close.

2. What is the best time of year to visit Paris?

The best time of year to visit Paris depends on your preferences. Spring and autumn are generally mild with fewer crowds, while summer is busier but has warmer weather. Winter can be chilly, but the city is beautifully lit up and the crowds are smaller.

3. How do I navigate the Paris Metro system?

The Paris Metro system is one of the best in the world and is a great way to get around the city. You can buy tickets at Metro stations or use a reloadable Navigo card. There are also helpful apps and maps available to help you navigate.

4. What should I wear in Paris?

Parisians have a reputation for being stylish, so you may want to dress up a bit when visiting. However, comfort should also be a priority, especially if you plan to do a lot of walking. Bring comfortable shoes and dress in layers, as the weather can be unpredictable.

5. What are some off-the-beaten-path things to do in Paris?

If you’d like to avoid the crowds, here are some off-the-beaten-path things to do in Paris:
– Visit the Museum of Fairground Arts
– Explore the Promenade Plantée, a former railway viaduct turned into a green space
– Check out the street art in the Belleville neighborhood
– Visit the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, a museum dedicated to hunting and nature
– Take a stroll in the Buttes-Chaumont park.