Why Paris is not just a tourist destination

Soon marks a year since my first trip abroad and to my favourite city. So here is a piece I wrote a while ago.

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Back in 2015 I decided to make a solo trip abroad for the very first time. I had always stated that Paris was going to be my first stop as I fell in love with the city when I was a young girl and watching it on TV. In my head it was beautiful and full of people wearing stripy shirts and smoking cigarettes on the end of a long black stick.

This however is not true. When I first arrived in Paris it was slap bang in the middle of rush hour which apparently is a global event. So amongst the tourists I got my first glimpse of the real Parisians. From the outside it looked as if I had just stepped on to the underground in London but instead of blending into the background, I stood out like a rose among thorns.

When I got off my train to change to the next train, I wandered back into the pack of tourists as my change was at a the Notre Dame. I blended with the tourists until I could no longer find the next station. I made a decision then to just continue walking down the river bank in hope of finding my hotel.

While walking, I noticed a small family playing down the river bank. I imagined them tourists but I was wrong. They weren’t doing the tourist tour they were just sitting along the riverside enjoying the heatwave. How did I know they weren’t tourists? I heard the mention the heatwave and how it has brought the tourists out in full force. He spoke in a soft french accent and his english was not so clear but I noted that he was a member of a normal family enjoying the sun.

My final reminder about Paris just being a city came the following day. A breathtaking day. I had hardly slept with excitement with what to come within the day so I decided to get up early and watch the sunrise along the banks. While walking towards Notre Dame to witness morning prayer, I saw again how Paris is no different to a normal city. Locals were riding their bikes to get to work or out for a morning run along the cobbled paths. People were walking their dogs and acknowledging me as if I was a Parisian on my way to work. At lunchtime, I wander to a small patteserie down the side streets, of the tourist path and this is where business men and women were getting their lunch and again letting me blend into their culture. It’s only when I went to order that I stood out with my English accent.

This is the real Paris that people forget about.

Yes the tourist sights are amazing and a must see for your first time in Paris but also remember the not so tourist part. The side streets where people the same as you and I go about their everyday business. Sometimes doing the none touristy parts of a holiday remind you of how special that holiday really is.
Oh and Paris did live up to my expectation and more. I fell in love with a City, I had loved since childhood.

 

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