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Why I Hate Paris (Seriously)

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I hate Paris.

There, I said it.

Okay, sorry, let’s back up.

What do you think of when you think of Paris?

Twinkling lights?


Walks along the Seine?

Mary Kate and Ashley frolicking through Montmarte in Passport to Paris? (SORRY! I JUST LOVE THEM!)

For someone who lives a 2 hour train ride away (check out my guide on how to get to Paris from London), it is surprising that I’ve only been a couple of times.

My first visit was in 2012 during my first study abroad program.

I had amazing company (shout out to my now-bridesmaid Christina), but the weather was pretty terrible and my most vivid memory is of a man peeing on the street.

I went back this past summer, and I tried to go in with an open mind.

Maybe my first experience of Paris was only a symptom of the poor weather and not how Paris is in reality.

Maybe I was too harsh on it the first time around.

After all, there is such a thing as “Paris syndrome” where Japanese tourists have to be treated for SHOCK when Paris isn’t the same city they expected.

Maybe I was suffering my own version of this bizarre medical malady?

Turns out, I wasn’t.

I’m just not in love with Paris.

Of course, I’m not immune to the gorgeous views in Luxembourg Gardens.

Yes, being under the Eiffel tower while it’s twinkling at night is enough to make me want to run around screaming “Bonjour!” to everyone I know.

Sitting next to the river with a baguette and slice of cheese in hand is definitely appealing.

But I can’t fall in love with it like I’ve done so many other cities.

It’s just not my style.

And before you think I’m alone in this, know that it happens!

For instance, some people can’t stand Croatia.

Others are driven nuts by London.

And New York? Not for everyone!

But I hate Paris.

And here’s why.

1. Unhelpful Parisians

There is a quote that goes something like, “Paris would be great if it wasn’t for all the Parisians.”

While that sounds incredibly insensitive, my own experiences with Paris’ local residents has given me reason to think it’s slightly true.

The French culture is very famously proud of their language, and knowing that, I worked to learn a bit of conservational French words before going so I could at least get around.

But once I got into a more complicated conversation that I couldn’t follow, all love was lost.

I felt that many people wouldn’t make an effort to try and understand me or make gestures so I could understand them, and instead I was met with condescending looks.

And, okay, I get it.

It’s annoying when a tourist doesn’t speak your language.

But I then returned to London to experience a Transport for London staff member working incredibly hard to communicate with a tourist who didn’t speak English, and it made the difference even more apparent.

I left with the impression that Parisians are rude and unhelpful, and while I’m sure there are plenty of lovely Parisians out there, I didn’t find many to help me break that stereotype.

Perhaps if I had spent more time in the Latin Quarter?

I don’t know, but I’ve heard good things and just never make it over there.

If you’re interested,  try a guided tour of the Latin Quarter. This way you’re also ensured to have a bonafide Parisian with you who can ward off disparaging looks in their native tongue!

2. What’s that smell?

Paris stinks.

Literally, it stinks.

Okay, it doesn’t smell everywhere, but especially in the heat of the summer, many parts of Paris smell like garbage.

And urine.

And sweat.

I felt that the streets were also a lot dirtier than many large European cities, and everything felt covered with a healthy dose of grime.

Again, this wasn’t a factor everywhere in Paris, and many cities do have zones that are more or less looked after, but the smells and dirt seemed to follow me around the city more than I would have liked.

3. Paris is chaotic

I’m beginning to show the British in me here, but Paris felt chaotic to me, and not in a good way.

People frequently jump over the barriers to the Metro to get on without paying, it wasn’t uncommon to have accordion players or karaoke sessions take place on the trains, and it was just all a bit much.

I’m sure this noise is what gives the city ‘life’ to some people, but I was all like, “There is no way the Queen would stand for this nonsense! Get in line and quiet down!”

I did find a Bohemian tour that goes through the quieter parts of Paris however, so MAYBE in the future I’ll give that a try…

I realize, of course, that this may make me sound ungrateful, uncultured, or a bit of both.

Saying “I hate Paris” is a bit of a bold thing to say!

I’m open to my mind being changed about Paris, but for now, I’m happy to continue exploring other places.

Edit:  As of May 2020, I have been to Paris quite a few times since this article was written in 2016 (mostly for work), and I am very sorry to say that I still feel the same!

I’ve been to so many places in this city, stayed in so many different hotels and hostels, and I just can’t get over it.

I’ve even been to Disneyland Paris, and I had the time of my life, but I refused to go into actual Paris for the day.

I told my husband how much I hate Paris and he begged me to try again, but I just can’t.

It doesn’t make me happy to be there, and I’d rather do something else or see another city instead of going somewhere that makes me uncomfortable and dying to leave. 

I’m not cut out for Paris.

We have a hate-hate relationship.

It doesn’t want me, I don’t want it, and I think I’m fine letting everyone else bask in their Paris love and having romantic dinners on the river and getting proposed to under the Eiffel Tower while I sit and watch from afar.

What do you think about Paris? Have you been?

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20 thoughts on “Why I Hate Paris (Seriously)”

  1. I’ve always loved Paris. The architecture and art is what does it for me. I once spent 4 hrs by myself in the Louvre and only stopped because I was starving! However, the last time I was in Paris during the summer I noticed, the dirt and the smells which I hadn’t when I had visited in previous years. As for Parisans, some are nice and some live up to the stereotype. I’ve been fortunate when there to have people help me with directions and a chef cook a vegetarian sandwich for me when his kitchen was almost closing. Having said that – you’ll never find a friendly city than London. I mean where else do the police help lost tourists?!

  2. Very interesting reasons. The first time I went to Paris, I actually thought I would hate it, but completely fell in love and have been there 4 times due to my love of it. I agree with your reasons, Paris does smell gross and it is pretty hectic, but for some reason, I looked past those and found a city of beauty and each time I’ve been back has been magical. Maybe it’s not the place for you though, and that’s okay!

  3. You know, I totally agree with you! People think I am bonkers but seems that I am not the only one haha! I totally agree with all the points you made (especially no 1). Okay, Paris is pretty in pictures, the wine is nice and but that’s about it. x

  4. I’m from Paris and I feel so sorry right now! I cannot deny what you said, lots of people are just unhelpful (either they’re busy, either they don’t care) and it’s not only with tourists … of course it’s not all of us! I’m always happy to help even if I’m in a hurry 😉 (and even in English or in body language!!)
    Paris is dirty, yes. Not everywhere. And we’re not proud. I don’t know why that is: not every cities in France are like that but why does it have to be our capital city?? 😀
    Chaos: I think when you live there you don’t even pay attention to that anymore. People jumping from the barriers are just assholes. I’m not gonna talk about “singers” or “musicians” in the metro, as I would have to write an essay about poverty, refugees (it didn’t begin with Syria) and everything. Just know that you’re not the only one being surprised or tired with this.

    However I think Paris does have qualities. France has beautiful places and I think Paris is one of them. Architecture is great. Culture is great. Theater, music, are great. We have so many venues for music and theater, and it’s what I’m most in love with. This city has so much to offer that I’m always a bit sad when visitors have this bad image. But you’re right, maybe Paris is just not for you!

  5. I just went to París and hated it. Dirty, dog poop, pee, and spit filled streets, unkind side looks on the metro ooohps did I say I hated París. I have cousins who always raved about going there, like most peaple they love it and so when I came back and said “I didnt like it”, it was unheard of for them, but I actually thought its something most peaple just dont want to accept justo because of how over rated it really is. I have to say I way happy at the Orsay museum because the masterpieces and the hot chocolate way amazing, but for the most part I was not too happy and felt unsafe.

    1. The d’Orsay was one of the few things I really enjoyed in Paris! Pretty much everything else was “meh” to me.

  6. I am also one of those who thinks Paris is a horrible city. It’s not that I hate it, but it’s far from being romantic and grandiloquent. There are some okay places in Paris, but other than that, it is a shitty city. Will never go back at my own expense. My wife has exactly the same opinion.

    1. Hi Sasha,

      Thanks for the comment!

      Strangely, my husband quite likes Paris, but I really just don’t see the appeal! He says it is inspiring (he is a Director/Writer), but it certainly does not inspire me!

  7. I live in Paris since 2017, I have been an exapt before in other countries and never I have felt that bad before… I have suffered a lot of racism here, people are rude and aggressive, too stressed I think… too hypocrite. I am looking forward to move!!

    1. Hi Anna,

      I am sorry to hear that! That’s very similar to my experiences. I hope you have a better time going forward. Where are you moving to?

  8. I couldn’t agree more…

    Worst part is that, I had offers from other cities (Boston, Berkeley, London, and well, Baltimore..) and I chose Paris in the end. I listened to other people too much and was deluded with my nice touristic experiences before. Well, we never know before living it.

    Now, I’m living in Paris and that nice architecture and people-are-outside-having-fun-all-the-time perception has faded in 2 weeks. It’s a big pile of dirt with “shiss” smell and constant aggression. I think I don’t even have to talk about the administration. And I grew up in Istanbul, I thought I knew chaos… I lived in 3 countries in the past 9 years and so far I can say that Paris does not offer the expected quality of life for someone in his/her 30s, unless you are rich. Sure I understand if people like it here, can be a lot of fun, but not my style dude. Separation is on the horizon…

    Yours truly,

  9. I could not agree more. Modern Paris can be romanticised only by fools. I’m a big guy in my 30s and I feel unsafe in most places in Paris. It’s reeking – people pissing on the streets. How very cultured! Also, they must own very big dogs there, as some poop on the street were the size of a human extrements. Oh, wait…

    Anyhoo, if you want to spend your precious time in a dirty, massively ovverrated and stupidly expensive shithole – go for it! 🙂

  10. Hahahaha, I am currently in Paris for the first time and I was googling your article because I have such a negative feeling since I am here and I am not even able to explain why… but I hate Paris! Thank you for letting me know I’m not alone.

  11. I’m still struggling to understand why I love London, Madrid, Venice, Vienna, Barcelona, Edinburgh, Munich, and several other European cities. But not Paris. My book club friends think I’m nuts. It wasn’t the people. Yes, it smells (and of poop!). And the architecture was.monotonous. We just never saw or felt that “Joi de vive”.

  12. We just visited Paris for first time, honestly,I don’t real like Paris. The city is dirty and smelly; the metros or subways are not clean either. People are nice, a lot friendly than my expectations. However, the city is too crowded. Everywhere we visited, we had to wait for long periods of time.

  13. You’re not alone! I’m in my late 20s, I’ve been to Paris twice and can totally relate
    1. Overcrowded! There are queues for absolutely everything, from monuments to museum, even the toilets. I felt like I wasted so much time!
    2. So many street vendors everywhere.
    3. Chaos. Yes, people jumping over the Metro gates to get in for free, but also during my time there half the metro lines were down… It was very hard to move around, and don’t even get me started on trying to take a taxi with the insane Parisian traffic – I nearly missed my train to leave Paris because of that.
    4. Food poisoning. This is actually not uncommon in Paris, so be prepared. It happened to me after eating at a restaurant in Champs Elysées.
    5. It is impossible to simply enjoy the city – you even have to queue to get a nice photo with an iconic landmark. You literally have 5 seconds to snap your photo, then leave, with no time to actually enjoy the views and drink it all in. I was just so annoyed at how so many people are desperate for the exact same photo sitting on the steps of Trocadero with the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop, or in front of the Louvre as if they were “holding” the pyramid. It’s just ridiculous – everyone wants to be an “influencer”. I bet if you asked half the people there who designed the Louvre pyramid, they would not even care. Social media has ruined the city.
    6. It probably didn’t help that the weather was miserable during my stay
    7. And yes, I got my own experience of a condescending Parisian older lady looking down on me.

    I really want to give Paris another chance but I’m having a hard time figuring out how. If someone can offer some advice I’d very much welcome it! All in all, I would choose London, NYC or Edinburgh any time over Paris.

  14. Totally agree! Paris is horrible to get around. The taxi drivers cheat you and the underground is incomprehensible. Except for rare occasions, everyone tries to cheat you (even the hotels). On that subject, we had a micro sized room with the toilet so close to the wall you had to sit sideways on it. We did spend an entire day at the Louvre walking 15 miles indoors. The bus trip to the Eiffel tower stranded us at the Seine and we had to take the metro bus back to “close to the Louvre.” Nobody helps you with directions. Unlike London where I have never been lost for long and the kindness of strangers is legendary (our last trip we had 50 lb. bags and got off at the non-disabled tube station. Strangers carried our bags (two of them) up the huge flights of stairs. I tried to pay them but they refused saying, “No thank you, welcome to London we are so glad your here.” Guess where we will return over and over again…not Paris. Cheers!

  15. I feel you. I wanted to love Paris so much, but I just didn’t. It had a feeling of being this shiny, beautiful stage set… but when you peek behind the curtain, it was as you said: grimy, smelly (definitely pee scent along the Seine), and just not all that welcoming in general. No one was openly rude to me, but I just didn’t feel welcomed either.

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