Paris: Expectations vs. reality (AMAG)

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paris (A MAG)

Emily Clinton

One word: Aristocats. Yeah, that movie with all the cats in Paris singing and dancing. This is the moment in which I knew that I wanted to be in Paris. As a seven-year-old watching a Disney movie, you can expect that my view of this city was skewed. Some of my expectations and preconceived ideas were confirmed and some denied during my visit.

This was my first time visiting Paris. I spent six days in Paris with the school, visiting museums, going to trade shows and trend lectures. I had free time during the evenings to spend as I pleased, as well as a whole free day on Saturday. I wanted to share the ins and outs of the city, what lived up to the hype and what fell short. En avant!

Metro

Prior to coming to Paris, my only comparable experience was the New York City subway system. If you’ve ever used the subway in NYC, you know how confusing it can be at times. My expectation was that Paris would be the same. I expected it to be just as grimy, crowded and confusing as it is back in the states. The reality of the metro is that it is one of the easiest public transport systems I’ve ever taken. At each stop the signs indicate the next stop the metro is going towards, so you never get turned around! Also, to my surprise, the metro was pretty clean. All around 10/10 experience.

Shopping

OK, let’s get to the important stuff…the shopping in Paris. Before arrival I thought that everything was going to be really expensive, even including the thrift stores. This was proven to be partially true. Paris is one of the fashion capitals of the world, so you can expect that there were a lot of luxury stores. That being said, there were also a ton of hidden gems and interesting concept stores.

One of my favorite stores there is called Kilo Shop. Kilo Shop is a thrift store where everything you buy is based on the weight, hence the name kilo. I scored a real leather jacket there, which usually run for $200-$300, for $73. Some other honorable mentions are Mad Vintage, Come On Eileen and & Other Stories. As mentioned before, Paris is a big city for fashion, so I had to stop in some of the luxury stores. My friends and I went into the Louis Vuitton flagship, which was huge and such a cool experience. I definitely recommend stopping into some luxury stores in Paris even if you aren’t planning on buying anything.

Food

The food in Paris has much more variety than other European cities I’ve been to, which I wasn’t expecting. My first day my friends and I found a bomb Indian restaurant, which might I add, had an affordable price tag. That’s one thing about food in Paris: it is expensive, especially if you’re in a touristy area.

One of the nights I had dinner by the Arc De Triomphe, and the food was very average and pricey. Pink Mama was the exact opposite of average. The outside of Pink Mama is covered in pink tiles, and there’s a speakeasy in the basement of the restaurant. The cuisine has a little bit of everything but is mostly Italian. This place was by far my favorite and a must-see. Also, one of my favorite places in Paris is Lavomatic. It is a speakeasy that looks like a laundromat from the outside, but you can climb through the washing machine to get into the bar. It had such a great vibe, and it wasn’t outrageously expensive. Last but not least, you have to get a street crepe! You have to buy them from a street vendor to get the whole Parisian experience. The food definitely met my expectations.

I’m no Rick Steves, that’s for sure. This was my expectation versus reality of the city of love. It was an unforgettable first trip to Paris, and I can’t wait to come back to eat, shop and explore some more! Au revoir!

Emily Clinton is an abroad contributor to A Magazine. Contact her at [email protected]