You know the famous phrase: “Paris is always a good idea”? Well, I’ve always been curious as to how true that really is. I personally adore Paris, but I’m pleased to say that this week, we’re going to be getting a second opinion on the matter from a Parisian local. Let me introduce you to Alice’s Paris…
1. Could you tell us a little about yourself and where you come from?
I’m Alice, I blog (with my husband) about travel and I’m back in Paris after a year traveling around the US, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Northern Ireland. I was actually born and raised in the close suburb of Paris and then moved to the city as soon as I could. After studying the Japanese language, I went to study French Literature and later on Old and Middle French Linguistics. I’ve started traveling after graduating highschool (I went to Tokyo for almost three weeks) and still am!
2. How long have you lived in Paris? And what brought you here?
I studied for a long time and mostly in Paris (but also Bordeaux and the suburb). As the universities I went to were in the 5th arrondissement (my favorite neighborhood), I really got to fall in love with Paris. I also spent my Master’s degree in some of the best and most beautiful universities and school in the city (la Sorbonne, l’Ecole Normale Supérieure and l’Ecole Nationale des Chartes) and that was an unforgettable experience, being constantly surrounded by beauty and history.
3. What do you love most about Paris?
I don’t think Paris needs to be presented anymore (has it ever?!) but it is an incredible place. Unless you’re looking for incredible nature (sorry, no mountains and no beach here!), Paris has it all. Whatever floats your boat, we have it! Culture, fashion, food, drinks, parks, history, diversity… ask away and Paris will always be a good answer. That’s definitely something I love about Paris: the endless possibilities of things to do and places to go to. You can always adapt your itinerary to your tastes and even to your mood, and that’s amazing.
4. Is there anything that frustrates or annoys you when tourists visit your hometown?
I think we all have the same issues when it comes to tourism where you live. In Paris, it’s true that people are always in a hurry (I don’t know how to not be in a hurry, to be honest!) and they might seem rude or unhappy, but it’s just the rhythm of the city that gives that impression. Of course, when I try to get to work and tourists are all over the metro platform and don’t let me pass, it really frustrates me. Same thing in the streets. It’s not Detroit, we don’t have huge sidewalks, so you have to adapt the way you walk to the people around you. Sometimes the noise can be an issue too: the French love the quiet….
5. In your opinion, which places should be at the top of any visitor’s wishlist in Paris?
I’m probably gonna go against the flow here but if you don’t have a lot of time, I would skip without a doubt the Eiffel Tower (you can see it from a lot of places without having to go all the way there) and the Champs-Elysées. Parisians never go there if they aren’t coerced into it.
On the contrary, I would recommend to spend some time in the little streets in Montmartre from Abesses (métro station) to the Sacré Coeur. Then go to the Marais (neighborhood), cross the Pont Neuf (bridge) and get into the 6th arrondissement, find your way to the 5th, pass by the Sorbonne and get lost in the little streets going from the Panthéon. Oh and pass by the Louvre! Even if you don’t get in, the place is pretty amazing (but if you can, do get in, it’s one of my favorite museums in Paris!).
But that’s for the people who want to see the cute historic Paris, your tastes might take you to some completely different places!
6. What foods must visitors eat when in France?
I’m vegan, so I’m not going to recommend anything that isn’t. You might find it boring, but bread is a huge go. Personally, I love bread, and I love to switch from the baguette to the Tradi (Tradition), or cereal baguette, or stuff like that. They’re all delicious!
Also, of course, the wine (okay, that’s not eating, but still!). If you like wine, you should seriously indulge! Paris is also big on cocktail bars, so you should try at least one.
And if you’re vegan or interested in testing vegan food in Paris, we have amazing places for that too!
7. What’s your favourite French word? Why? What does it mean?
Bibliothèque. It means library. I’ve spent so many hours cooped up in some of the most beautiful (and hard to get into) libraries in Paris, I sometimes really regret my studying days are over.
8. What advice would you give to somebody moving to France from another country?
Do your homework and ask for help if you don’t understand the paperwork. We have amazing opportunities and rights in France, and some might apply to you too, it would be too bad not to make use of them as they might help you.
9. If you could describe your hometown in just one sentence, what would you say?
Paris’ beauty is obvious from the outside but some of it is buried deep down and you have to go and find it to appreciate it.
10. If tourists were to know one thing about the French culture, what should that be?
Eating is a special moment for us, we really try to avoid having the quick sandwich at our desk as much as possible, and we love talking about food while we’re eating.
Thanks Alice! We’ve loved getting to know you and Paris better!
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