In August 2018 we went with a friend for a 5-day getaway to Paris; summer in Paris is beautiful we’d heard and were curious to see it ourselves. I have actually been in Paris before, in June 2008, and didn’t think much of the big city. I was curious to see if my opinion would change…
I will dig into my memories of our very nice hotels and favourite restaurants in other posts. Here’s an overlook of Paris and how I felt about it.
Highlights of Summer in Paris
Summer in Paris caught me by surprise: Paris is more relaxed and easy-going than I expected! Five nights in Paris is just enough to explore some locals’ highlights, tourist spots, to enjoy many great lunches and many many bottles of wine. And to find a speak-easy!
One of the sights I really had to see was Jim Morrison’s grave. Being a Doors lover one has to go once in their life. Besides the grave, the cemetery itself was also worth visiting. In Finland we are not used to graveyards quite as interesting and big, full of little details. And some happy news for you if you are playing Pokemon Go: there are poke stops and gyms here! Though I’m not sure how I feel about Jim Morrison’s grave being a poke gym…
Another tourist sight we went to see was The Paris Catacombs. I was expecting quite much from this sight since I love all things gloomy that have actually happened in real life. I was pretty brutally disappointed. The corridors kinda felt like they were there only for the show. Yes, you know the history when you walk underground, but everything authentic feels to have taken away. It could be that someone else would find it scarier, I guess I’m just used to seeing bones?
Pro tip: book your entry time in advance. The queue to the catacombs was ridiculously long and to be honest, it is not worth the wait. All though the advance tickets are double the price (we paied 33€ per ticket), they are worth it when you see the queue.
I feel like summer in Paris was best seen at Saint Martin: when you leave the central tourist area you find canals (perfect spot for bubbles) and little boutique restaurants with different world cuisines. And the prices aren’t bad! We ended up having Israeli and Thai food for the first few days, forgot about French food all together – oops!
French service is known for rudeness, lack of English skill and all things negative. Don’t know if we were lucky or if things have changed, but our experience was the complete opposite! Service everywhere was kind, and what lacked in language skills was compensated with smiles and gestures.
If I were to avoid any places in Paris, it would be the areas near Eiffel tower and
Champs-Élysées. Here you can only find thousands of tourists, photo bombers and street junk souvenirs. The real Paris is somewhere far from this! Surprisingly Notre Dame didn’t feel as bad. Though we didn’t even try to queue inside.
Soak in the atmosphere and the feel of Paris
My personal favourite in Paris (already in 2008) are the riverside sellers near Notre Dame. I love to listen the sellers babble French, dig into their portraits of Paris and find the oddest things for sale. This time, I bought two portraits of Paris from different times (one of children on the streets, the other of Moulin Rouge dancers getting ready for their show). They will always remind me how summer in Paris felt to me in this trip.
The weather treated us well: +25-30 degrees throughout our holiday. The nights got rather chilly so bring your jacket even if the sun is looking hot during day.
What I feel is the most important thing for anyone travelling to Paris, is to find your own thing in this big city. Not everyone has to love the sunset at Sacre Coeur with thousands of others, no matter how beautiful it is. There are so many districts in Paris to discover that there is enough to see for a lifetime. So if Paris doesn’t win you over during your first trip, don’t give up! Paris deserves a second and even a third chance: I’m so happy I gave Paris a go for a second time, since my opinion of the city is completely changed now.
Have you been to Paris? Did you fall in love or thought it was nothing special?