Why Paris is the City You’ll Keep Going Back To

Why are people so obsessed with Paris? If you’re like me, you may have left Paris, but Paris never left you. There’s a certain magic, charm, and fantasy that exists within the city boundaries of Paris that is unlike any other European city. Let’s pinpoint a few reasons why Paris is so great, and why you’ll keep coming back for more.


A Slower Pace

Although there will always be people in a rush, most European cities are a bit slower than cities in the U.S. In a city with far more pedestrians than cars, you are among thousands of Parisians and visitors walking to their destinations. The architecture, the art, the culture, the ambiance…it all forces you to take a breath and absorb what’s around you. Paris is peace for the soul.

Rue de Tresor

Cafe Culture

Paris is a city of 7,000 cafes! Not restaurants- cafes! This means that literally wherever you go, an espresso and a good dessert are in reach. I’ve been to many European cities, and nowhere else is there a cafe atmosphere like in Paris. No matter what time of day, what you are doing, where you have to be, there is always time for a cafe stop. These moments often end up being my favorite parts of the day.

Cafe Tournon, Saint-Germain-des-Pres

People-watching

There’s no better place to people-watch than in Paris. With thousands of commuters and tourists, it is quite satisfying to sit at a cafe or park and just take in those around you. Another great place to people-watch is the metro. Ha! I am always fascinated by the vast array of characters that go through and live in Paris. Stop for a few minutes and observe who surrounds you.

Art

With 130 museums to choose from in the city alone, you will not be shorted on incredible art. The Louvre is the biggest art museum in the world, and that’s only one of the museums that you can experience in Paris. I find a different museum (or three) every time I visit. Montmartre is also a great spot to watch artists in action. Street art, in many different forms, is everywhere.

Musee du Louvre
Montmartre

Architecture

Paris is known for it’s perfect lines, attention to detail, and symmetry. Much of the city’s history is a story told through its architecture, with the city center holding some of it’s oldest buildings and monuments.  You can wander through the city and find a mixture of Baroque (Versailles), Renaissance (Louvre, Palais Royal), Gothic (Notre Dame, Saint Denis), Romanesque (The Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés), Classicism ( Hôtel des Invalides), Rococo (Place de la Concorde), Neo-Classicism (Arc de Triomphe), Napoleonic (Pere Lachaise Cemetary), Art Nouveau (Hector Guimard’s metro entrances), as well as post-war and modern architecture (Pompidou, Opera Bastille). Last but not least, we all recognize the quintessential Parisian apartment buildings created by Baron Haussmann.

PalaisRoyal

Petit Palais

Opera Bastille

Parisian Way of Life

Although Paris is a big city, it is separated into arrondissements (neighborhoods). These spaces create a village feel within the bigger city boundaries. Many locals have lived in the same neighborhood for years, and their village becomes their community. Parisians will go to the same boulangeries, cafes, florists, etc. their entire lives. They create relationships and are on a first-name basis with the local business owners and neighbors. Many of us crave this way of life, and it’s why so many of us feel a tug toward the romantic, “old” pace that exists in Paris.

History

Where to even begin on the history within Paris? Paris is more than 2,000 years old and there is an abundance of history everywhere you turn. Visiting Palaias de Luxembourg or Pont Neuf transports you back to the 17th century; these are two of the oldest sites in the city. Walking past the Bastille is a reminder of the French Revolution in 1789, when Parisians stormed the prison as a symbol of “liberte, egalite, fraternite”. Strolling on the Pont des Arts and the Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe were visions ordered by Napoleon during his reign. Baron Haussman began rebuilding Paris in 1870 to create the charming, iconic, whitewashed grand boulevards we see throughout Paris today. The Eiffel Tower was built in 1899 and quickly became the monument that defined Paris to people around the world. Additionally, the Eiffel was used strategically by Parisians when they once again rose up in rebellion, this time against the Nazi occupation during WWII.

While exploring Paris, you may find American connections such as the multiple Lady Liberty’s, statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and other notable Americans who had significant connections to France. I would advise you to look up (thanks Corey Frye) when walking through Paris, in search of plaques against the stone buildings; these serve as reminders of important events in history that happened near that very spot. There is endless history in Paris – you just have to look for it.

Pantheon

Food

Throughout the years, Paris has been known for it’s exquisite cuisine and gastronomy, which means the practice of art of choosing, cooking, and eating good food. Along with housing 84 Michelin-star restaurants, Paris is home to a unique and thriving food scene. As the city evolves, so does its’ food industry. Street food and international fare has become increasingly popular with the cultural diversity that exists in Paris today. France also has a presence of fresh, quality food that is grown locally. With all of these combinations adding to the food industry, many eating experiences you have will be completely unique to the city.

Inspiration

Countless artists, writers, poets, musicians, and famous individuals came to Paris for inspiration and a bolster to their creativity. Ernest Hemingway called Paris “a moveable feast”, during his time living in the city of light, and it’s clear that many other famous individuals felt the same. As you traipse the streets of Paris, you can feel the buzz of inspiration all around you from the ghosts of creativity’s past. A walk through Montmartre allows you to follow the footsteps of Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, just to name a few. Visiting Pere Lachaise Cemetery gives a broad view into just how many inspirational names made Paris their home, both in this life and the next. Visit the graves of Gertrude Stein, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, and Frederic Chopin.

Montmartre

Like millions of people out there, once you go to Paris, you probably won’t return with your whole heart. Paris is a city that will always pull you back, feed your soul, and refresh your mind. When you are itching for more, don’t forget there are Francophiles out there just like you; I’m one of them! Let’s connect about Paris in the comments. I’d love to know what makes Paris so special to YOU! Until next time, travel far, travel often (but always come back to Paris). Au Revoir!


Photo credit: Phyllis Cartwright

26 thoughts on “Why Paris is the City You’ll Keep Going Back To

  1. I can’t say exactly what it is about Paris that draws me. There are just so many beautiful things to look at, so many parks and cafes to sit in and watch the world go by.

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  2. I’ve traveled to Paris many times. My first trip was over New Years Eve. We didn’t speak French and were intimidated by the city. For three days we ate off street carts because we were afraid to walk into a cafe. We spent that New Years Eve under the Eiffel Tower – a bottle of bubbly in one hand and a street sandwich in the other! I’ll always remember that evening for many reasons — mostly because it made me want to return to try all the things I missed. I now call it my meandering city — walks, watching and trying to take in everything around me. There is no other place like Paris. Keep sharing your stories!

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    1. Wow, Betty! What a first experience. Meandering is the perfect word- I love the term “window-licking” as well that the French use. The whole experience of Paris is “window-licking”, just taking it all in! Thank you for sharing your experience! I hope your next trip to Paris is full of those things you haven’t done yet.

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  3. For me, Paris feels like home. Born and raised in the NYC area I use to the city pace and everything it has to offer. Paris is my European version of home with a slower pace to appreciate it all.

    Thanks for the article!

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    1. Rose, you are speaking my language. I feel so at home in Paris. My brother is currently living in NYC! Love that city too, but I can’t seem to find another city like Paris. Thanks for sharing the love!

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  4. I’m one of those people who can’t count the number of times I’ve been to Paris. Each time it digs itself deeper into my heart and soul. There isn’t anywhere else that comes close! Thank you for this blog post!

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  5. Ah Paris! I always wanted to go, there was something magical when ever someone told me they had been there. So in 2016 I finally got to visit. As soon as our coach was in the vicinity I could feel my body reacting to way I had never felt before. I was in Love, in Love with Paris. I went back last year for only a very short time but it was the same. Perhaps another life before this one? If i could tell my younger self one thing is to go and live in Paris. I can not wait till 2020 so I can visit again.

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  6. I was told by my highschool french teacher that i looked french and had a beautiful way of speaking french. I knew that France would be special to me when i finally went there and i cant describe the feeling of coming home i felt. My favorite moment was during my first visit when i sat on the steps of musee d’orsay eating an icecream, listening to classical violin music, looking at the seine river! It was a magical moment for me – bringjng me to tears just thinking about it!

    I have been blessed to come back home 3 more times and the feeling never leaves me! Im getting ready to retire and plan on going back and staying at least two months. Want to find a “home” near the rail so i can travel to places i havent yet been to in france and get to Paris for many day trips. My French is very limited but i find that if i try to speak french others always try to help me.

    I cant wait to meander (thank you Betty for the perfect word) my way around and experience the beautiful people, culture and history!

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    1. Viviane, I resonate completely with the idea of “coming home” when I’m in France! I remember stepping out of the Saint Michel metro station for the first time, walking around the corner to Notre Dame and getting teary-eyed. I still get emotional walking through the city. It is so near and dear to my heart! I love finding fellow Francophiles like yourself.
      When is your next trip? I’ll be back in June and I am so thrilled to be back and wander!

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