Is Paris everything it’s cracked up to be? Image supplied by author

International travel: What no one tells you about Paris

Before you spend all your savings on an indulgent Paris get-away, there are first a few truths to confront about the romantic European gem.


Is Paris everything it’s cracked up to be? Image supplied by author

There’s no denying it — Paris, France’s iconic capital city, is truly beautiful and the streets are definitely imbued with some sort of magic.

Although a trip to this dreamy city is a must-do and, often high up on bucket-lists, there are a few niggling Paris travel factors are either forgotten or purposefully hushed up by travellers.

It’s not all croissants and sparkly lights; and it’s time to finally confront all the facts, so that we can better prepare for our extraordinary European escape.

You’ll always have Paris, but know this first


For some reason, Da Vinci’s iconic painting, now one of the most famous in the world and displayed in The Louvre, always seems magnificently gigantic in pictures, movies and photographs.

In reality, the Mona Lisa is a dainty portrait, at only 77cm x 53cm. In perspective: its length is only slightly longer than a standard ruler. This means that you would be lucky see her from a distance, as mostly, she is completely obscured by restless crowds, all trying to achieve the same solitary goal: catch a glimpse of the painting, and maybe even score a selfie.

Forget truly standing before her famed mysterious smile and soaking in her allure. It is possible, however, to have a photo opportunity, but for this, you’d have to wait in endless, snaky lines, and at the end, only have a few seconds to snap your shot before the next eager tourist is ready to pounce.

Prepare to queue for the Mona Lisa. Image by author


The Catacombs of Paris are a labyrinth of underground tunnels and ossuaries, that hold six million skeletal remains of long deceased Parisians — the world’s largest grave.

The tale goes that the city could no longer find spaces for their dead centuries ago, and decided to store some skeletal remains in old unused quarries.

The Catacombs are, in fact, a tourist attraction too, albeit, a much less popular one than the Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe, and it’s possible to buy tickets to explore the rather gory and gloomy underground graves in order to view piles of old human bones.

Of course, if you so choose, it’s entirely possible to remain at ground level for your entire city visit, and you’d never know any better about its dark depths.


One of the most famed (and beautiful) streets in the world, and definitely the most visited stretch of road in Paris, the Champs-Élysées is on everyone’s itinerary.

With the Arc de Triomphe at the end, the broad, tree-lined avenue hosts dozens of stores, glitzy hotels and restaurants and happy citizens wander along its endless lengths.

However, despite most of the original architecture having been maintained, in between these lie newer additions, made to blend in with the original.

Most of the stores are now beloved international brands and chains, rather than Parisian boutiques, and throngs of people traverse on the streets relentlessly, trying to navigate towards malls or select shops. Most of these are teenagers hanging out with their friends, or tourists coming to explore the avenue.

It’s safe to say, the Champs-Élysées — admitted widely by Parisians — lacks authenticity and isn’t really an accurate reflection of Paris-style living or shopping.


Once you get over how truly clichéd the city has become — countless couples taking engagement and wedding photos before the Tower, visiting the Mona Lisa, and binging on over-priced bread — Paris still takes the cake for its wondrous streets and romantic ambience.

Just be prepared for crowds and long queues in front of attractions, so buy skip-the-line tickets if possible in advance, or wake early to start visiting landmarks.

Remember also, that Paris is a real city with people who have always lived there, rather than a giant theme park.

All in all, Paris is definitely worth a visit. Its charm by far outweighs its cons, and thus, it will, deservingly, remain cemented as an iconic city for years to come.