The City of Lights. The City of Love. The City of Romance.

These are the titles that Paris has been known for, leaving travelers with the highest of expectations. But, many of them are often disappointed.

This is why I did not include Paris in my first few trips to Europe. I thought it was overrated.

It wasn’t until my third trip to Europe that I gave the city a chance.

I visited popular tourist spots and lesser-known neighborhoods, ate the famous croissants and macarons, and even the ready-made foods from the supermarchés, used their metro, and even took a day trip from Paris.

I’ve got to experience Paris as a tourist, but I’ve also seen how Parisians live their everyday lives. And in this guide, I’ll tell you all about the surprising things I’ve personally seen and experienced.

So is Paris overrated? I answer that pressing question below. 

Me in in a pink pleated skirt and white top gazing at the Eiffel Tower, walking on steps on a sunny day. A questioning concept emerges, 'Is Paris overrated?'
Is Paris Overrated?

Is Paris Overrated? Here’s My Honest Opinion

I’ll cut to the chase. I don’t think Paris is overrated

When I first arrived in the city, I had low expectations. I thought it couldn’t possibly live up to all the hype.

But, after just half a day of exploring its streets, I completely fell in love with Paris.

I saw the city from the top of the Arc de Triomphe, walked along the colorful and enchanting Rue Cremieux, and stumbled upon hidden gems that I never even knew existed.

Me in a white dress stands on a cobbled street, her hand gracefully touching her hat, with the colorful facades of Rue Crémieux in the background.
Walking on the empty street of Rue Crémieux

I can understand why some people might believe that Paris is overrated. But my personal experience allowed me to see the “real” Paris beyond the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.

It gave me a deeper perspective of the city. I’ll tell you more about it. But let me tell you why many tourists think Paris is overrated and overhyped. It’s because of Paris Syndrome.

What is Paris Syndrome?

Paris Syndrome is a psychological “severe culture shock” experienced by some visitors when they go to Paris.

It happens upon seeing what the city is really like compared to how it is represented in media. It can even include dizziness, sweating, and feelings of anxiety. 

I didn’t experience it. Maybe because I already knew that many photos on social media are edited or that videos are often filmed early in the morning or at a certain spot.

I saw the poor living conditions of the homeless, the endless traffic in the city, the crowded tourist spots, and even the countless sirens all day. If you think Paris is all the romantic glamour, then you might say Paris is overrated upon seeing this.

Is Paris overrated? A crowd of visitors with their attention fixed on the Mona Lisa, a man in the center raises his phone to capture a photo of the famous painting.
Is Paris overrated? Crowds and long lines for the Mona Lisa at the Louvre.

But, Paris is a real city where people live. It has problems like any big city. This doesn’t take away the undeniable and unique charm Paris has.

I still found beauty in its artsy neighborhoods, the fragrance flowing out of the patisseries, the historical monuments with hundreds of years of history, the art and architecture in many museums, and more. 

What I did differently when I visited Paris

I don’t believe Paris is overrated because I saw it (or at least tried) to see it differently. The main thing that I did differently was slow travel in Paris. 

If I had spent only one or two days there, attempting to see everything, I would have had to rush, queue for long periods, navigate through crowds, and rely on taxis. I would have seen Paris as stressful and expensive.

But instead, we took our time. We stayed for almost a week! If I knew Paris was not overrated, I would have stayed even longer.

We still visited some famous landmarks, like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Montmartre, but not all of them.

We also checked local neighborhoods and discovered hidden gems! We bought food from their local market and wandered around the city – unrushed.

Indeed, time is of the essence. 

A woman in a white summer dress and sneakers is examining oranges at the Au Bon Jardinier fresh fruit stall at Rue Cler market in Paris. The market display is vibrant with assorted fruits, and the scene captures a typical sunny day with patrons browsing in the background, highlighting the local Parisian shopping experience.
Rue Cler, a local market in Paris

13 Reasons Why Paris is Overrated (and Why it’s Not)

So why does Paris have a bad reputation? Is it that bad?

Some travelers tend to have a negative impression of Paris. There are reasons behind it.

But, there are also ways to plan your trip wisely and see why this French metropolis is way more than its crowds.  I’ll explain both so you can make the most out of your visit.

Paris is Expensive

If you’re traveling to Europe for the first time and you chose Paris as your first destination, you might find Paris expensive. Costs are no joke, especially for food and accommodation. 

But, prices are similar across Western European countries like Switzerland, Italy, and Germany. I have some good news for you, though. 

There are many ways you can enjoy Paris while staying within budget. 

Less Expensive Ways to See Paris

Go to Paris during the off-season (not in summer) and stay in smaller hotels in quiet neighborhoods. Many of these budget hotels are still within walking distance from major sites and the metro, giving you accessibility without the crowds.

For example, we stayed in a backpackers hostel in Nation for a week in Paris. We saved a lot of money not just from booking the hostel but by being near a supermarket, affordable bakeries, and a metro station.

Eat outside the tourist spots, buy your food from the supermarket (you’ll be surprised by the quality of food they have), or have a cute picnic

A personal perspective of a fresh salad in a take-out container, held over knees with a wooden fork, ready to eat. A green water bottle and wooden bench in the background suggest a casual outdoor meal in a park in Paris.
5 Euro rugula salad from a supermarket in Paris

As for transportation, the cheapest options would be to use the metro or WALK! On your strolls, you’ll find famous sites like the Panthéon, the Grand Mosque of Paris, and many places with free access to the most enchanting views of the city. 

Is Paris Dirty?

Paris has over 2 million residents and has the highest population density in Europe. So it can get quite dirty like any other major city. 

Most Paris streets are cleaned daily. We’ve walked the city for days, and I didn’t see piles of trash, just very small litter.

I have noticed that famous tourist spots tend to be dirtier. So, if you visit Paris (or any place), please avoid littering. We all share the responsibility to keep these places clean.

You can also opt for cleaner and more peaceful places during your visit.

Cleaner areas in Paris to visit

Champ de Mars is a garden at the foot of the Eiffel Tower where Mat and I enjoyed some hours lying on the grass, having a picnic, and savoring a view away.

Our picnic in Champ de Mars park, enjoying a picnic with fresh strawberries, grapes, and a croissant, with the Eiffel Tower towering in the background on a clear blue-sky day in Paris.
Our simple yet perfect picnic in Champ de Mars

You can also plan an afternoon at Canal Saint Martin where the locals take a relaxing few hours around the tree-lined canal. This neighborhood is also one of the most quiet, scenic, and cool spots in Paris.

Overrated Tourist Activities. Is Paris Overrated?

Seeing the Eiffel Tower, visiting the Louvre, or shopping along the Champs-Élysées are often believed to be overrated activities in Paris. The prices, crowds, and traffic are not for everyone. 

If you prefer a slower pace of traveling, here are some hidden gems that not all tourists get to explore in the city. I also wrote a full list of hidden gems in Paris.

Waking on the lush garden with a fountain in the Grand Mosque in Paris
Grand Mosque in Paris, a hidden gem inside the city

Hidden Gems in Paris

If you feel the Louvre is overrated (although I would say it’s not and I highly recommend visiting it), then visit the Carnavalet Museum and Maison de Victor Hugo. Both museums are also free to enter!

Carnavalet Museum allows you to see the history of Paris by recreating interiors and displaying objects from different centuries.

Literature fans can visit the Maison de Victor Hugo (house of Victor Hugo), a spot in Le Marais where the famous author’s apartment was turned into a museum.

If you’re looking for a perfect view or to take a photo of the Eiffel Tower without the crowd, skip Trocadero and go to Pont d’Iéna, Square Rapp, or Pont Bir Hakeim instead. Here is a complete list and a map of the best spots to view the Eiffel Tower.

Overhyped Romantic Spots

We climbed the Eiffel Tower, kissed on the Wall of Love, and walked around Montmartre knowing that these are the most famous romantic spots in Paris.

Despite the popularity of these places, we still enjoyed some special moments together. We found some quiet spots despite the crowds.

Is Paris overrated? Maybe, but these places are hyped up for good reasons.

Crowd in Sacre Cœur, Montmartre

Other romantic spots to enjoy with a loved one

Paris has many beautiful and quiet places to visit beyond the tourist spots. Looking for a romantic date?

Walk around the Seine. Instead of visiting Trocadero for an Eiffel Tower photo, opt for secret spots like Square Rapp and Rue de l’Université.

But the most important thing is not where you go but how you spend your time together.

Walk hand in hand, talk for hours, and take some time to pause and look into each other’s eyes. And maybe, just maybe, you can seal the moment with a kiss.

Is Paris Crowded?

Paris is the most visited city in the world. Over 44 million tourists visited in 2022! Most tourists crowd in the first arrondissement due to popular spots like the Louvre and Centre Pompidou.

Tourists gather around the iconic Louvre Pyramid in front of the historical Louvre Palace under a clear blue sky in Paris. The contrast between the classical architecture and the modern glass pyramid creates a unique and photogenic landmark.
Is Paris overrated? Crowd gathering in Louvre

The best time to visit Paris

If you’re planning a trip to Paris, avoid the summer season. It’s the peak tourist season, and the popular sights and streets tend to be crowded.

Instead, I recommend visiting any other season, or even better during the shoulder season. Shoulder Season is the period between peak season and the offseason.

Like when we visited Paris in September. The weather is pleasant – a bit sunny but also chilly. The crowds start to thin out so you can enjoy the city without being overwhelmed by the number of tourists.

I also find it so romantic to see the leaves start to change colors and still see flowers in bloom. Best of all worlds!

Is Paris Safe?

Yes, Paris is generally safe. Solo tourists have been in and out of the city without experiencing any threats to their safety. 

But of course, remember to apply the same precautions when traveling to any other city. I’ll tell you why in the next item. 

Pickpockets and scams are common.

Unfortunately, pickpockets and scams litter the streets of Paris, especially around the tourist sites and other busy areas like the metro.

We saw many scams in Trocadero Gardens like the shell game or thimblerig. Some guys were playing a ball and cups. All you need to do is guess where the ball is.

These scammers work in a team and target unsuspecting individuals. They will play near you, and you may see random people winning. However, these are fake winners. When you see these people, run! You’ll 100% lose your money!

A man in a white shirt and patterned cap is engaging with onlookers in a classic ball and cups guessing game known as shell game or thimblerig scam on the Trocadéro esplanade in Paris.
Shell game or Thimblerig scam in Paris

Another scam I witnessed involved young people asking for signatures for a petition near Sacré-Cœur. They may seem polite, but once you sign, they will demand money from you. Even if you refuse, they will persist until you give them some coins.

You’ll also find the string men in Sacré-Cœur. They will put a bracelet on your wrist and demand payment. The worst part is that while you are dealing with one scammer, another may be pickpocketing you already.

How to avoid being a victim of petty theft

Stay vigilant and protect your belongings. Keep your valuables inside a secure bag rather than inside your back pockets. 

Always keep your guard up in crowded places. Pickpockets may work in pairs, so don’t let anyone distract you. Reject suspicious offers for free souvenirs or requests for petitions.

Are Parisians Rude?

There is a common stereotype that Parisians are rude. I didn’t need to ask a Parisian for directions (thanks to Google Maps), but we visited their street markets and bakeries without any issues.

Like any European city I’ve visited, I did not find them unfriendly. Although, I didn’t find them very friendly, either.

However, I understand why Parisians might be seen as impatient, perhaps overwhelmed by tourists constantly asking for directions to the Eiffel Tower.

My sole encounter with “unfriendliness” happened in the metro when I attempted to share a seat with a lady. The seat appeared large enough for two. She promptly vacated the seat, saying it was meant for one person.

I immediately stood up and offered the seat back, but she just shook her head and stood on the opposite side.

But, I’ve encountered a similar situation in Vienna. I might experience the same in other major cities around the world, except perhaps in Asia, where people tend to be generally welcoming.

Tips to have a better experience with the locals

Many Parisians are very considerate if you try to talk to them in their language. Before your trip, stock up on some common French expressions. 

Here are a few to get you started: Bonjour! (Hello) (start always with this), Vous allez bien? (How’s it going?), Bonsoir! (Good evening!), S’il vous plaît? (Please?), and the handy Combien ça coute? (How much is it?). 

And hey, your pronunciation doesn’t need to be perfect. You might even learn some new phrases as you go around with your bits of useful French.

n enticing display of French pastries at a Parisian patisserie, featuring colorful macarons, fruit-topped tarts, and a classic millefeuille vanille. Price tags in the foreground suggest a customer's viewpoint, with the reflection of the bakery interior visible in the glass.
Learn basic french phrases so you won’t miss these macaron and croissants in Paris!

Why are there so many strikes?

The French are known for their tendency to take to the streets to protest against unjust social systems. This has been a long-standing tradition in the country.

Transportation strikes can disrupt how residents and tourists spend a typical day in the city. Although this occurs in Paris, I’ve experienced similar strikes in Germany and Sri Lanka. This issue is not limited to Paris alone.

While it may be inconvenient for us to encounter a strike while visiting, we should respect their values and see it as an opportunity to experience their way of life.

Let us not forget the struggles they went through in the 18th century to secure their rights, as the effects of injustice continue to be felt even today.

What to do during strikes in Paris 

Paris has many small neighborhoods that could take you by surprise. Some might even be a stone’s throw away from your accommodation. 

On strike days, visit these neighborhoods, go on walking tours, or book a bike tour that allows you to experience Paris at a slower pace. 

Is the weather in Paris bad?

Paris’s weather changes a lot but isn’t as bad as some people think. It has a mild climate similar to London with four different seasons.

In spring, the city looks beautiful with all the flowers blooming. Summer is warm and great for walking along the Seine.

Autumn turns the city golden, perfect for sitting in cafes and walking in the leaves. Winter is cold but not too harsh, making the city look even more romantic.

Even though the weather in Paris can be unpredictable, it adds to the city’s charm.

Why is Paris Overhyped? Why do people like Paris so much?

Is Paris overrated for tourists? And why is Paris so overhyped?

Well, Paris is the setting of many famous movies.

The city is highly romanticized in media, especially for its food, language, and culture, attracting millions of visitors yearly.

So it’s no surprise that people would have it on their bucket lists. In many ways, though, Paris does live up to the hype

Why people love Paris 

What’s so special about Paris? It has something for everyone. 

It has the iconic Eiffel Tower, majestic Louvre, and elegant Haussmann-styled buildings. But Paris has more than that.

There’s Rue Cler for food lovers, Opéra Garnier for the architecture geeks, the National Library for the bibliophiles, the Wall of Love for couples, and MORE!

I also love their picnic culture and the many parks with which the city is filled. Oh, and of course, the breathtaking views!

What’s not to love?

Me and my boyfriend lying down on a concrete bench in a park in Paris
Is Paris overrated? We don’t think so, especially when we’re at their parks!

Why do Parisians get out of Paris? Is Paris Overrated?

The French take pride in a work-life balance as opposed to many countries that glorify overworking. It’s illegal to work on Sundays and for more than six days a week.

French even have a law, “Right to Disconnect“, which allows employees to disconnect from all digital tools during rest and personal time. And I find it beautiful!

And what better way to take a break from their boulot (French expression for rat race) than leaving the bustle of the city?

The concept of ‘dépaysant’

Parisians take day trips outside of the metropolis to recharge and have a change of scenery. This, in a nutshell, is the French concept of ‘dépaysant’. 

I’ve seen how other French cities and towns like the Grand Trianon in Versailles and La Petite France in Strasbourg. These spots offer a different beauty than Paris.

Grand Trianon with its pink and yellow facade and a garden
Grand Trianon, a hidden castle in the Palace of Versailles

I also understand why vacationing well is a tradition the French stick to. It contributes to increased productivity and overall happiness.

Also, Paris has a well-connected train system. Many countries like Belgium, Luxembourg, the UK, and the Netherlands are also only a few hours away by train.

There are other beautiful cities to visit nowadays other than Paris

Is Paris overrated in Europe? Many seem to think so.

I think this perception exists because many other European cities, such as Prague, Budapest, and Lucerne, are now more accessible and offer breathtaking beauty comparable to Paris.

Other European cities to explore

Prague, Czech Republic is home to stunning castles and cathedrals that seem to have been taken straight from fairy tales. I’ve visited the St. Vitus Cathedral. This is by far the best cathedral I’ve visited!

Budapest, Hungary is the paradise of history buffs (the Castle Quarter is rich with remnants of WWII). But did you know they were also known for their springs and thermal baths?

Bratislava, Slovakia is located right in the center of Europe and is a treasure trove of historical buildings, well-preserved monuments, and natural destinations. During my visit, I explored the Devín Castle and was impressed by the perfect blend of nature, architecture, and history.

Is Paris disappointing? Is Paris Worth The Hype?

I can answer this question in a heartbeat. 

No, Paris is not disappointing and Paris is worth the hype. But it certainly took us a good balance of planning and flexibility to make our trip to Paris the best it can be. 

Otherwise, it was easy to fall into the Paris Syndrome and decide that Paris didn’t live up to my expectations.

Plan an itinerary that fits your interests and preferences, appreciate the Parisian life, and most of all, take your sweet time. Paris, just like any place, takes time to fully discover its beauty.

Wrap Up: Is Paris Overrated?

Some might say Paris is overrated, but my trip gave me a deeper appreciation for the city.

Paris comes to life in the small, everyday moments and hidden corners you stumble upon when curious enough to explore.

Sure, Paris has flaws, like any big city, but that’s part of what makes it real and interesting. It’s a place that keeps evolving while holding on to its rich history and culture.

So, is Paris overrated? Come to see it for yourself. Go with an open mind, take your time to discover its lesser-known spots, and really get a feel for what daily life is like there.

You might find that Paris exceeds your expectations, not because it’s perfect, but because it’s genuine, vibrant, and full of surprises.

Read More Things To Do in Paris

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