5 Things That Have Disappointed Me About Paris

Paris is always a good idea

The French capital has been romanticised in the imagination of people all around the world for centuries. It is what inspired me to learn French, and why I have lived here for all this time. However, the city of light is not without its disappointment. Tourists naively visit Paris in the hope of experiencing all the romance, beauty and love that the city has promised them; only to be faced with litter, beggars and dog poo instead.

1. The Food


Ok the food can be amazing, but you’ll have to pay a lot for it. In general, I am not that impressed by French food. Sure their patisserie skills are unrivalled, but when it comes to a good French dish at a reasonable price…Well…Apparently that’s pretty hard to find! Food served in bistros or brasseries often include some hearty French favourites like boeuf bourguignon or magret de canard, but they are not the refined cuisine you would associate with France. And they are just..OK…If you are looking to try delicate dishes in Paris expect to pay a fortune.

2. The Metro


Your dreams of Paris being full of the rich and chic may be dashed upon entering the city’s metro. With a 50% increase in homelessness in France from 2001 to 2012, you can be sure to see the city’s poorest citizens lining the subway platforms, and sleeping by station entrances. Being confronted with such a heartbreaking reality is probably the last thing you expected from your journey to the City of Light. I’m not sure if other cities just hide it better (I rarely see homeless people sleeping on the underground in London) or if this is a particularly Parisian problem. Other metro issues include: strikes (so. many. strikes), loud buskers and pickpockets.

3. General Cleanliness


Paris has never been renowned for her sparkling streets; as we look through the annals of history, we can find quotes depicting the smelly state of the capital


“We blush with shame to see the public markets […] displaying their filth, spreading infection, and causing continual disorders […] The center of the city is dark, cramped, hideous.” – Voltaire

Although Paris has cleaned up her act since the 18th century, walking her streets has become something of an obstacle course where you have to dodge dog poo, litter and more dog poo. You may have been dreaming of the smell of freshly baked bread mixed with crème patissière before you got here, only to be confronted with the stench of urine in the Opéra/Auber station (what’s up with that?!)

4. The Crowds

Tourists swarm around the Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum in Pari
PC: Ryan Donnell

Like many major cities, Paris becomes unbearable during the tourist season. The summer months and around Christmas being the worst. If you want to catch a glimpse of the Mona Lisa, or take a trip up the Eiffel Tower, expect long queues. A trip to Paris becomes decidedly less romantic once you and your partner have to fight your way through the crowded streets of Montmartre.

5. Opening Hours


Quite the opposite of the “City that Never Sleeps,” Paris is often asleep. Be it pretty much all throughout August, or for long lunch breaks during the week. Sundays and Mondays in the capital can be particularly difficult; with most shops shut on Sunday and many museums closed on Monday, tourists can find themselves not knowing what to do with themselves. Also eating outside of a normal ‘lunch’ and ‘dinner’ time can prove tricky. When I spend the day exploring Paris I normally get hungry around 3pm- but most restaurants won’t be open to serve food until 7pm. C’est la vie!

I recently read about something called “Paris Syndrome“. It is said to be “a transient psychological disorder exhibited by some individuals when visiting or vacationing to Paris, as a result of extreme shock resulting from their finding out that Paris is not what they had expected it to be.” I thought people should know that reading blogs like this one, or looking at the photos of Paris on my Instagram serve to perpetuate the idea that Paris is perfect. And although Paris is pretty perfect, it is also a city with flaws. So I wanted to take a moment and tell you all my thoughts on what it has been like living here for the last 5 years.

I’d love to hear in the comments about what you like and do not like as much about Paris!


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A London-born lifestyle blogger, obsessed with Paris. I write lifestyle posts with a French chic twist.

14 thoughts on “5 Things That Have Disappointed Me About Paris

  1. Enjoyed your post. Sharing! 😉 I think any heavily romanticized place can lose its allure once people get out of vacation mode and go about their daily lives. There’s still a lot of beauty and positivity to be had but it’s only natural to see the less desirable points as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The dog poo and pee was definitely a downer.
    Right on on the food. Especially the cheeses…….so many touristy places with bad cheese.
    We always were up early & beat the crowds & the museum passes really helped.


  3. nous sommes en France et notre façon de vivre peut parfois vous déplaire ,(horaires d’ ouverture ,foule dans les musées,métro envahi de sans abris….)mais je souhaite que Paris reste tel qu’il est et ne devienne pas une copie des mégapoles américaines ou asiatiques open 24/24 au final si mon pays ne vous satisfait .pas ,il est preferable que vous alliez ailleurs ,j’ai écrit expres en français ,un peu d’éffort ne vous ferait pas de mal!!!!!


    1. Merci pour votre commentaire, Muriel. Votre façon de vivre ne me déplaît pas du tout. Le but de cet article c’est pas de critiquer les mœurs des Français. Le Paris qu’on voit sur le grand écran n’est pas toujours le vrai Paris et je voulais explorer ceci, surtout pour les gens qui ont jamais pu visiter la France.


  4. Really? Paris is expensive and crowded? I hope you contribute to the solution by removing yourself from the hordes of visitors. With the money you save, you can buy yourself a watch so that you turn up for lunch when they’re open and have staff on duty.


    1. Hi Ronald. Thanks for taking the time to comment on my post. I won’t be removing myself from the hordes of visitors any time soon unfortunately, as I’ve actually been living in Paris for 5 years now. This is what allows me to have insights that others may not have realised about Paris. No other city quite has the idolisation attached to it like the French capital, which is why I thought it might be interesting to talk about the downsides of living in Paris, especially for those looking to visit who might not know about the 2 hour lunch breaks, or shop closures on Sunday. I always knew this would divide opinion, and although polemic, I thought an article looking at the darker side of the city of light might make a good read 😉 But please do not take away the opinion that I do not love living in Paris; if this was the case I would never have started a blog about it!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Paris is perfect in our minds. I am conceptualizing the true Paris of ideas, philosophy, art, music, and architecture as I step gingerly over the dog poo and dance around the aggressive sex hawkers. Honestly I overlook similar problems everywhere I’ve been to capture the soul of the place (from a photographer’s perspective).


  6. I found Paris clean and vibrant. Yes the crowds slightly annoyed at the Louvre, as it would have been nice to slowly walk around and sometimes sit and look at the art. Lots of seats, but they were all full. My sister who visits Paris a lot and the last time had been 4 years ago, warned me of the dog poo everywhere. Even she was surprised at how clean Paris was. They clean the streets twice a day now I am told, and we did see this happen as we were walking back to our hotel. I come from Melbourne Australia, and they now have tours of the graffiti, they are very popular and people come from everywhere to see the artwork. The food yes it wasn’t that good, but I came to Paris for the atmosphere and I was not disappointed. Love your blog xx


  7. Wow. Some people took you all wrong here! I, too, blog about Paris and I have blogged about 3 of 5 of the same negatives one encounters in Paris. Still, the positives far outweigh. Very good post.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I definitely agree with you about the food, but I would amend it to say French food. When I was a student in Paris three years ago, I stayed with a host family, so my general impression of French food is of all the amazing dishes that my host mom made. To eat anything as good as her food in a restaurant was way too expensive for my little student budget unfortunately. But I found that there’s so many other ethnicities in Paris–it makes eating out so much better! I went to a lot of really affordable Asian, North African, and Levantine restaurants, so I would encourage you to consider those options if it floats your boat.

    Also, yes to the crowds. I arrived in January, and it was bliss up until the summer came.

    Overall, Paris is still my ideal city (dog poop and all), but I found that I REALLY hated the weather. It was generally so cold and rainy and gloomy that it was hard for me (I’m from Florida) to adjust, and I had no idea it was like this!

    This was a great article!


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