This is just my personal opinion and you may receive different treatment or encounter a much different city than the one I did; so take what I say with a grain of salt. I heard mixed reviews of Paris before I actually visited it; like I had for many other cities. I heard it to be dirty, busy, unsafe, touristy, expensive, and many other terms that would qualify it to be a waste of time. I was warned of gypsies, thieves, scams, and pickpockets. Constantly being told tips and tricks to avoid my wallet, passport, or life being taken from me. Worries rushed my head on what could happen and I mentally prepared myself for the worst. Little did I know that Paris would be one of the most beautiful and magical places I have visited to date.
Take what I say with a grain of salt; your own experience or experiences may be different than my own.
Paris was my American fantasy of European. Yes, in the geographic sense but also emotionally. Everything was sexy. When entering a restaurant, cafe, bar, or grocery store and politely exchanging a “bonjour” or “bonsoir” with whoever was working was cheerful and pleasant. The language was romantic and beautiful even when I didn’t know what anyone was saying. It made everywhere feel welcoming(this is being added to the list of “things that we should do in the United States”). The collective groups of young and old people sitting on the lawn of the Louvre, or the Trocadéro and socialize, drink, and eat together is something that is truly remarkable to see. The thing I enjoy most about a cafe is how the people gather into it as a social place. In Paris, with the sparkling Eiffel tower as a backdrop on the lawn of the Louvre, it was the social place for so many people
In regards to coffee in Paris - When I asked the baristas I spoke to about the coffee culture I was usually met with “it is a lot better than it was four years ago”. This may be true to the large amounts of traditional espresso and prominence of “Illy”, “Lavazza”, and other “true Italiano” espressos in the city; but I found that what specialty coffee Paris has, it does right.
Belleville Brûlerie has a roastery and tasting room located in the Belleville neighborhood in Paris. The neighborhood was bustling with mostly younger people, not many, if any, tourists. Being a retail space, roastery, and a tasting room; the folks at Belleville provide fine coffees to cafes all throughout the city as well as their cafe & bar concept in the same neighborhood.
Serving espresso, filter coffees hot & iced, and conversating about the coffees they roasted; the guys at Belleville were some of the friendliest that I met in Paris.
Serving espresso roasting by Belleville Brûlerie, Steel Cyclewear & Coffee Shop is a cycling clothing and coffee bar retailer located a few blocks from the Canal Saint-Martin. Serving espressos, juices, small bites, and high end cyclewear; the space is one of its kind in Paris. Chatting with the English barista working, Samson, about the coffee community in Paris, he quickly named off a list of the great cafes in Paris and the people who managed them(lamenting that a majority of them were English). Funny and quick-witted; the guys at Steel are awesome & hilarious people. Even if you’re not into cycling, this is a place to drop by.
A quick note on a Parisian/European trend that the United States need to adopt: orange juice squeezers. Manual, Electronic, hand-cranked; I don’t care. You can’t throw a rock in Paris without hitting a citrus juicer, and it's CHEAP. Going to one of the various grocery store in Paris you will see a giant orange electric juice squeezer with .25l, .5l, and 1l bottles allowing you to squeeze your own fresh juice into however much you would like. No cafe I went into didn’t squeeze their own juice. From the small creperie to the fancy cafes; they all had freshly squeezed orange juice. There is one cafe I know who does serve orange juice freshly squeezed in the US but it's $8 for 8oz, which is ridiculous. Fix this ya’ll.
Paris is a beautiful city and I feel in love with it. It is the baseline to which i want to compare every other city I visit; which is a very stupid thing to do. Seeing the partying that goes on in the evening and waking up to see the majority of it swept away and cleaned is remarkable. Just walking the streets is breathtaking. Smelling the pastries being baked or walking into a random fromagerie and discovering a very cheese or walking along the canal to see couples passed out, making out, drinking and eating all in a small area; its magical.
Tips for Paris-
Wake up early(5-6am-as the Sun is rising) and take a very long walk.
- In one morning I walked from Notre Dame to the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower(picking up a fresh baguette and a croissant)and back. It took about 3 hours but it is one of the best experiences I have ever done. You get to see the city wake up, the trash get cleaned, the food getting prepared, the-ah, look at me. I’m rambling again.
Pick a neighborhood, mark all the cafes, destinations, metro, and all.
-This goes for any city, but in Paris where the neighborhoods are very large you may want to do a little more planning
You can get anywhere on the metro
-Don’t pay for a weeklong ticket. Paying each way will be cheaper in the long term and since you’ll probably be walking most places, it's unnecessary to pay a larger price.
PRO METRO TIP-follow colors, the end destination, and know your station. Or just use your phone
Most museums have a free day
-The free day changes but this goes for most cities. Friday the Louvre was free. Most Cathedrals are free to go into yet you usually have to pay around 5euro to go into the towers
I could list so many other tip so if you have any questions or are planning on traveling to anywhere, let me know! I love planning -> firstname.lastname@example.org