Paris truly does get a lot of hype, possibly more than any other city in the world. It is absolutely one of the highest rated travel destinations in the world, and is on the bucket list of almost every world traveler.
Traveling to Paris is an adventure that every lover of culture and class feels they must experience in person, and until that moment they decorate their walls and hearts with pictures of the Eiffel Tower in spring, or the Seine River at sunset. I describe what I experienced myself, as my expectations for visiting Paris only grew the more time I was away from it. I felt as if it was calling to me from across the oceans, begging me to come and visit.
So what exactly did I expect from Paris, and how did the beautiful City of Light live up to everything I dreamed about it? Let me explain.
My expectations of Paris were a bit hazy, filled with fanciful memories of the day I spent there with my parents when I was four years old. The only thing that I had clear memory of was riding on the double decked bus and seeing the Eiffel Tower from a distance. I was immediately drawn to the incredible structure, and seeing it in person must’ve been too fantastic for me to handle at that age because I have literally no memory of seeing it up close, although my parents have told me we went there.
So basically, my dreams were fed by beautiful pictures of the city in the spring, of the Eiffel Tower at night, of the lovely Louvre museum. Before we were dating, Pep went to Paris with a group of friends and spent three days sending me nonstop pictures. I was incredibly jealous and determined to get there at some point. I pictured beautiful streets with gentle breezes, the air perfectly warm, the architecture gorgeous, the food delicious, and every moment a precious memory to save and cherish.
I know that others have had different experiences in Paris. My aunt warned me that the people can at times be rude (but that could be said about basically any place in the world). I’d heard stories of bad weather ruining trips. I was still undeterred. My best friend and I went to Paris in summer, which I had heard would be crowded and awful.
However, the reality is that Paris is every bit as beautiful as what I had spent years imagining. I was enchanted by the light, by the silence on the streets, by the street performer who touched my heart with his melancholy cello, by everything and everyone. I found that the streets were so perfectly put together with harmony and eye-pleasing symmetry. The buildings were old and beautiful, hailing from a time when architecture was an art form. I loved the beautiful Seine River, and I was absolutely breathless when I saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time.
Paris fulfilled every one of my dreams. I had expected perfection, and that was pretty much what I got. Although our five days in Paris had its mishaps (such as getting stuck at the Arc de Triomphe without a way back to our hotel at 1AM, or the fact that I left all of my makeup at home), I still found myself absolutely astounded with how well Paris lived up to everything I had dreamed about.
My Top Tips for Seeing Paris on a Budget
Stay Out of the Center– The center of Paris is appealing because of its close proximity to such sites as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, and more. However, this area will be the most expensive. Check out some of the surrounding Arrondissments (or neighborhoods) along with a map of the metro, and you’ll see that there are plenty of budget-friendly hotels in Paris that are still not far from where you want to go.
Travel by Metro- Metro travel is by far the cheapest way to get around in Paris (aside from walking!). Since the city is so well connected, everything that you want to see will have a nearby metro station. A single ticket is 1.80 Euro. If you’re staying for more than a few days, you can get a ten ride ticket for 14.10 Euro.
See the Eiffel Tower at Night from Trocadero– If you’re looking for a way to see the Eiffel Tower without paying, then cross the Seine and head to Trocadero. Passing the row of fountains and pools, walk up the stairs to the top of this landmark and see a perfect, unobstructed view of the Eiffel Tower.
Be Open-Minded in Your Choice of Meals- Don’t expect to sit out at a fancy restaurant every night, or to gorge yourself on a big breakfast every morning. Travel like a local by going into grocery stores and picking up things for a picnic in one of Paris’ beautiful parks, or grab breakfast in one of the lovely local pastry shops (I guarantee this is the best breakfast you will find!).
I hope you enjoyed this introduction to Paris! Don’t forget to subscribe for more budget travel tips in Paris, and around the world!