Click the dots on the map above to view pictures I have taken in these locations.
The world is in love with Paris. Girls dream of going to the City of Love. Not many guys can honestly say they dislike the sound of a French accent. I’ve even heard stories of people from far away countries who idolize the city so much that they end their trip in sheer disappointment, sad that their expectations weren’t exceeded or even met.
I’ve been to Paris four separate times now, the first time for fun and the following three times for work. I honestly walked away disappointed after my first visit. I think the problem was that I only saw the main touristy spots and not much else. Don’t get me wrong; the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, they were all great to see. But the city felt so impersonal; it felt faceless. After going back, I started meeting more people. I Couchsurfed with a friend who I met in Poland. He introduced me to many of his friends. We went out to a few places right by Moulin Rouge. I went to a Couchsurfing picnic in the Esplanade des Invalides. I began turning down the less busy streets, stopping at small cafes. My view of the city gradually changed, and you can probably see why. Meeting people gave the city more of a personality. I began to have a connection with the city.
This is another perfect example of why I am a huge fan of Couchsurfing. Meeting local people will give you a new experience, a different view of the city. Now when I think about Paris, I don’t think so much about the Eiffel Tower. I think about having a beer in a bar with Romanians, guys from the Ivory Coast, and a few French. I think about the Danish couple who I met at the picnic outside of the French Army Museum. After these experiences, my view of everything else in Paris improved. The Eiffel Tower became more interesting, the quiche tasted better, and Avenue des Champs-Elysees became more bearable. Rather than walking from one tourist attraction to the next, it felt different.
Sadly, I’ve never spent any time outside of Paris in France. I know I would enjoy several of the other cities, but I never did take the time to visit. So for now, Paris is my only view I have of France even though I have heard many times, “Paris is not France.”