I don’t know what I expected with Paris. Maybe I didn’t have any expectations, but that’s unlikely. No, there were things I had heard/read about Paris that I guess needed testing. So here is the checklist:
- Overpriced: Yes, but the exchange rate is partly to blame
- Indifferent to rude waiters: Yes, but by no means all
- Accordion players: Yes, and not just outside cafés
- Bogus charity collectors: Yes (and some genuine ones)
- Canine excrement: Not as much as I’d been led to believe but it was evident
On the plus side:
- Cultural heritage
- Easy to find your way around
- Spacious metro trains
Dodgy digs – what wasn’t expected was the state of the hotel my daughter had booked through the internet (I won’t mention the site – I have sent a stiff review and it’s up to them to put it right). First off, it wasn’t where the map showed it to be, second it was nothing like the photographs and description. ‘Each room is fully equipped with convenient room features’ (there was a bed, table with hard chairs and a TV); ‘other [rooms] have shared facilities’ (one shower on the third floor for the whole hotel charged out at 3 euros a pop. What was worse was the tariff displayed outside was 12 euros cheaper than the ‘special rate’ provided by the website. I would damn it with the adjective ‘clean’, except it wasn’t, particularly.
Dog dirt – yes, I know Paris is renowned for the stuff, and I did unwittingly bring a souvenir back home with me on the sole of my shoe. But it wasn’t as bad as I had heard it made out to be. I had read somewhere that one of the reasons for the state of the pavements is that Paris has no Municipal Police and the Police Nationale don’t consider enforcing the laws on dog fouling a priority. Perhaps so, but I wondered if the real reason is that, unlike many other capitals, people actually live in the centre of Paris not just the banlieues. This makes the city more human, more lively than some of the sterile commercial centres that other cities have become. So, plenty of independent shops, artisan boulangeries and small cafés. And along with it, dog dirt, a small price to pay for the warmth of a human city.
A couple of days wasn’t enough to do the city justice so I will reserve judgement. Perhaps not my favourite capital city but worth another chance, maybe with a better hotel next time.