Spending 8 days in Paris gives you time to learn more about the culture and really see the sights. We first visited Paris in 2011 but were only here 2 days — it was not enough time to really see everything Paris has to offer. This time we took it slower.
5 Interesting Things We Learned in Paris
1. French people are warm and friendly.
2. The French smoke like cast members of Mad Men.
3. French women are skinny.
4. The French love to people-watch and socialize.
5. Paris has beautiful architecture.
French People are Warm and Friendly
Many Americans think that French people are rude, pushy and not so enamored with us. We found this to be totally untrue. The French people we met were kind and eager to communicate. Even though we don’t know the French language, we tried to learn the basics (good morning, hello, goodbye, may I have the check please, etc.). That went a long way in greeting people and they seemed to appreciate our efforts.
The French Smoke like Cast Members of Mad Men
France reminded us of America in the 60’s and 70’s when most people smoked. In Paris,you can smoke in restaurants and pretty much anywhere else you wish. I think more people in France smoke than don’t.
Once you sit down for dinner, you sit next to French people chain-smoking for hours. We’ve joked that we are going to have black lung before we leave Paris, just from second-hand smoke.
French Women are Skinny
It seems everywhere we walked, you would see skinny women. Much has been said about the women of France being skinny and it seems so. I can tell you that they are not on a low-carb diet because pretty much every meal involves tons of bread. Maybe smoking is the secret — they are all young and skinny because they don’t live past 50 due to rampant lung cancer.
The French love to People-Watch and Socialize
Almost every restaurant has tables facing the street. This is where the French congregate — to smoke, drink and socialize. They watch as people pass by and seem to enjoy the company of others. They are not on their iPhones when they socialize, they seem to really be enjoying the time spent with their friends. They also don’t seem to mind eating by themselves. It is common to see someone at a single table enjoying a beer and a cigar while watching passersby.
They also eat late here. It stays light until almost 11 p.m. during this time of the year so we found that we ate dinner around 9 p.m. each night, just as the Parisians do.
Paris has Beautiful Architecture
We stayed in an apartment that was a couple of minutes walk from the Arc de Triomphe. It was a quiet street but in a great location to easily access all that Paris has to offer.
On the night that Algeria beat Korea in World Cup soccer, there were tons of cars blowing horns, flying Algerian flags, launching fireworks, and having a great celebration around the Arch de Triomphe.
Probably the most recognized monument is the Eiffel Tower. It can be seen from almost anywhere in town. We visited it at night — it twinkles at the top of each hour for 5 minutes — very cool.
As we were walking to Notre Dame, we noticed a few bridges filled with locks. The story goes that couples put these locks on the bridge as a way to show their commitment.
The best view in town can be seen from the top of a church called Sacre-Coeur. We climbed to the top (300 stairs) to take in the view.
Sacre-Couer is in an area called Montmartre, we spent a day walking around this area and visiting the Musee de Montmartre.
Also in Montmartre is the Moulin Rouge. We saw a show here the last time we visited in 2011.
The Louvre is a place you must not miss — it is one of the largest museums in the world and where the Mona Lisa is displayed. We were surprised at how small the Mona Lisa painting is, but the Louvre is a must-see museum, you could spend days in there.
I will leave you with a few more pictures of the incredible architecture of Paris.