I have been to Paris a few times and each time I go it grows on me a little more and I grow fonder of it. It wasn’t always the case though. The first time I went to Paris I was extremely underwhelmed and I was pretty disappointed.
This isn’t uncommon for destinations such as Paris, which have a well-known built up reputation. It’s beautiful, glamorous, romantic and who couldn’t love it? I arrived into Paris for the first time while I was studying abroad in Belgium. I had a friend who lived nearby and we met up for the weekend. (I did go as a small child with my parents, but I don’t remember any of it, so it doesn’t count.) I took the train in from Brussels and I was so excited. I had thoughts of tres chic women: very fashionable, wearing gloves very Breakfast at Tiffany’s-esque while sitting in a boutique-y café with a cigarette hanging loosely in their mouth. Much like a French Miranda Priestly. I imagined the Eiffel Tower glimmering in the sun, cobblestoned streets lined with shops, elegance.
Paris is, in fact, quite dirty and grungy in a lot of parts (just look at the metro trains), and the Eiffel Tower is by no means a gorgeous piece of architecture. It’s certainly impressive, but beautiful no. My first impressions weren’t great and since I had such a strong preconceived notion of what it would be like I was let down. I still had a fantastic time with my friend and it was fun to just be in Paris together, but I was still a little let down by what I saw at first.
However, Paris has many gorgeous parks and gardens and cute streets like I had imagined the first time, and it’s hard to fit that all into one weekend. In the subsequent times I have been to Paris I knew what to expect so when I arrived I didn’t allow my anticipations to get the better of myself. Since then I have enjoyed many parts of Paris such Jardin du Luxembourg, Notre Dame, The Tuileries Gardens and more. I have discovered my favorite part of Paris is the Arc de Triomphe because I love how it looks and I love the views from it.
What this taught me was that it’s never good to anticipate what a place will offer nor is it a good idea to go in with preconceived notions because chances are it’ll only make it disappointing when it doesn’t live up to the high standard we’ve conjured up in our heads. I’ve discovered I have a much better experience in a place when I don’t know what to expect. That way I can’t possibly be let down and it gives me the chance to see the place objectively.
Will I go back to Paris again? I certainly will, but I won’t make the same mistake of glamorizing places again.