I recently took my first trip to Paris. I had been to France once before in Toulouse so I thought I knew what to expect but Paris was very different from any city I have been too. Paris is a work of art in and of itself. Everywhere I look sculptures rise up to meet the sky. Angels and iron soldiers march through white marble streets. Moto-people speed alongside buses and busy people. Everyone moves in a fast paced ballet, most of them on their way to meet a friend for dinner.
My first travel tip to you is go with a pro. Preferably someone French who has lived in Paris for a couple years. If you canâ€™t do that I suggest staying in a hostel or find a place on Airbnb for at least the first couple nights of your stay in Paris. This is because they will be use to helping English speakers and they tend to be very willing to give you insider tips on restaurants and places to visit. I was staying in the center of Paris in between Lâ€™OpÃ©ra and Le Louvre. This section of Paris has so many fun places to visit. A five minute walk from where I stayed was the only Lindt Chocolate Shop in Paris. As I walked in they gave me two chocolates and I got to see the chefs in action making my favorite sweet.
It felt like being in Willy Wonkaâ€™s chocolate factory only a little more sophisticated and a little less weird and dangerous.
As I walked along the old cobblestone streets; it thrilled me to know that the Paris Metro was surging beneath my feet. You can be anywhere in Paris in 30 minutes or less thanks to the metro. Some stations are grungy and others have beautiful art and architecture. This photo is from the CitÃ© stop near Notre Dame.
There is definitely a high speed energy in Paris. People work very hard there and it is well known that the average Parisian is usually stressed to the max. Enter Yoga. I love Yoga and wanted to know if there was any sort of Yoga scene in Paris. There is, but it seems to be just getting started. My friend found me a great Yoga event to attend. It was at an outside bar of all places called Wanderlust and it was taught by famous Parisian Yogi Mika de Brito.
(photo taken by Juliachou)
The instruction was all in French so I did my best to watch everyone and follow along. Since we were in a public place there were many curious and befuddled Parisians watching us. I love doing Yoga in novel places so this was great.
(photo courtesy ofÂ www.ibtimes.com)
I found Parisians to be very friendly and helpful. They are curious about Americans and love to chat for hours. I was surprised at how many Parisians knew English. They seemed to relish the opportunity to practice and show off their English skills.
One friend I met on the trip, Thierry, took me bike riding and rock climbing at Block’Out Paris. You can rent a bike in Paris almost anywhere in the city and ride it to your destination and then leave it at another bike terminal. It is a great service and a fun way to see the city. Rock climbing was tough, my muscles were sore for two days afterwards and they were muscles I didnâ€™t even know I had, like little finger muscles and strange places in my back. I like this kind of work out, it is kind of like a game and I know I am getting a full body work out instead of only isolated muscle groups like a regular gym.
(photo courtesy ofÂ www.sudoiseescalade.com)
It was fun going with some experienced climbers as they taught me how to attack the wall properly.
Okay, Parisian cuisine. The first meal I ate in Paris was sushi, I know what your thinking, Paris is no place for sushi, but I canâ€™t help it. I love sushi. Plus, Paris is a perfect place for sushi. There is a large Japanese population in Paris and you can find great sushi all over the place for reasonable prices. Parisians love everything in small portions so sushi fits right in to their cultural. The sushi is more traditional than American sushi. It is mostly really good cuts of raw fish and sticky rice.
The most unique dish I had on the trip was a Quinoa Risotto at the Buddha Bar. It had a good balance of garlic and sun dried tomatoes.
(Photo taken by Juliachou)
The sun dried tomato might have been the best tomato I have ever tasted. The fruit and vegetables in Paris are what stood out to me the most. They had noticeably more flavor than the produce I am use to in the States. I would eat it and think, oh yeah thatâ€™s what a real tomato is supposed to taste like.
(photo taken by Juliachou)
If you are going to Paris the best advice I can give you is to try and meet people. Learn some basic foundational French. Learn please and thank you (s’il vous plaÃ®t et merci), do you speak english? (Parlez-vous anglais?), sorry (dÃ©solÃ©), excuse me (pardon) I would likeâ€¦(Je voudraisâ€¦), do you haveâ€¦(avez-vous), where isâ€¦(oÃ¹ estâ€¦) In your down time or while you are riding in a plane, train or subway whip out your phone and use Google Translate to learn some quick phrases and practice pronunciation. I also like the app Duolingo, its free and its a fun way to learn another language. People will most likely know right away you are a foreigner from your accent and quickly switch to English for you. Your going to have a better experience if you swallow your fear and make friends with a local or at least ask for a restaurant recommendation from them.
My last tip is from Juliachou a Parisian travel blogger. You are undoubtedly going to visit the Eiffel Tower and other famous sites in Paris. So is everyone else. That means buy your tickets to these places online as soon as you buy your plane ticket. You will get a cheaper rate and you wonâ€™t have to waste your precious time standing in lines with the other shlubs who didnâ€™t read this article. There, I just gave you more time to eat a buffet at Buddha Bar, ride a bike to the Louvre, and try the freshest Lindt chocolate you have ever had. With all that extra time maybe you could even shoot me a message from Paris as well!