Paris, France – Not what you think
Paris, France is known as a popular tourist destination for many reasons, and much has been written about the historical monuments, culture, arts, shopping and fashion. These days we can easily go online to find photos of these sites and from the comfort of our home we can read about the history of the various places of interest. Those who stopover here during their travels can easily round the bases by visiting the Eiffel Tower, Lourve, Arc de Triomphe, and Avenue des Champs-Élysées, adding in obligatory stops for a photo at Cathédrale Notre-Dame or beside the Seine. A longer weekend (or week) is needed to visit the numerous other top attractions which are pocketed around the city (that could be a focus series for the future).
However, I want to encourage you to visit the lesser visited residential areas on your next stay. Dine in a café where everyone speaks French and not the international languages represented by the tourists who fill the tables. Walk the parks where the locals take their children to play and dogs to walk. Enjoy the off-the-beaten-path feel of the local markets and hidden alleyways. Take some time to relax and soak up the atmosphere, rather than scurrying down the list of ‘must-do’ attractions, ticking each one off with the shutters of our latest camera. In our attempts to not miss anything important, I think we can sometimes overlook the obvious; that living in Paris is an experience that can’t be captured on film – and we’ll completely miss it if we’re following the herd from one tourist stop to the next.
Look for opportunities to meet and interact with the local residents (this applies to anywhere you ever visit). Express personal appreciation to the locals, and you’ll find that they are nice and friendly – contrary to popular belief. A local resident who confides in you about something worthwhile doing, is worth more than any number of travel books.