Paris is known as the city of romance. It’s where couples go to smooch by the Eiffel Tower or walk hand in hand over lover’s bridge. It’s the place to be with your significant other or as an independent solo traveler who don’t need no (wo)man.
It’s lust. It’s love. It’s freedom. It’s Paris.
I don’t like Paris. I’ve tried twice. Don’t hate me.
I had a flight to catch recently and found myself with 15 free hours. Since I’d been in the city before, I wasn’t too picky on choosing what to do. I didn’t have time to linger beside the Mona Lisa or stand in line for the Catacombs (which, I must admit, is my absolute favorite thing in Paris). The rainy weather certainly didn’t entice me to take any walking tours or picnic on the grass.
All I really needed was somewhere to sleep before my early morning flight. My hotel was cheap and I got what I paid for. I was welcomed with a grunt and an eye roll, told to walk up to the fifth floor, turn right at the mildew, step over the pile of garbage, and enjoy the soothing sounds of what I can only assume was purchased… “fun” in the next room.
After checking in to the hotel (that I, against all of my doubts, didn’t get murdered in) I took a very quick stroll around the area.
Why don’t I like Paris?
Let me ask you this, is there ever a time or place in Paris where a woman can walk down the street without being leered at or harassed? It didn’t seem to matter if I was alone or walking alongside a male companion, there was no moment in both of my experiences in Paris that I felt completely comfortable, safe, or left alone.
The touristy areas aren’t nearly as bad, so before dinner I made my way to the well known areas for a stroll through the rain.
I put on my best cocktail dress (a summer dress I borrowed from a friend that fit well enough), stilettos (flip flops), and meticulously placed my hair in the most extravagant up-do (ran some body lotion through it with my fingers) and set off to find what has been called the best and most luxurious hotel in Paris, the Shangri La.
If you’re ever in a city that you don’t particularly care for, treat yourself to drinks and dinner at the fanciest place you can find and I guarantee your whole mindset will change. I didn’t want to leave.
Walking past the doormen with coat tails, all feelings of my own frumpiness were quickly drowned out by the stunning entrance. The royal elegance of it all was overwhelming. No wonder, as it’s the former home of Napoleon Bonaparte’s grandnephew, Prince Roland Bonaparte.
I received a quick tour of the hotel. I was told that the suite has the best view of the Eiffel Tower in the whole city. You can see if from the large deck and the living area. You can watch the lights on the tower as you lay in bed or (have mercy) soak in the tub in the luxurious bathroom. They also host parties in this room. If you’re on the right email list, you’ll get a 24 hour notice before party. The first 30 or so to respond get to go to an all inclusive private party where I can only assume they prance around drinking champagne and feeling fabulous.
Apparently there’s about three proposals there each week. Quelle surprise!
I had two cocktails at Shangri La that cost as much as my crappy hotel room. Which one do you think I put on Instagram?
Spoiler alert: It wasn’t the crappy hotel room.
I also had a delicious meal at La Bauhinia, one of the hotel’s three restaurants.
Sadly, my time pretending I was important had to come to an end and I made my way back to the other side of town where my hard mattress, wimpy pillows, and toilet shower were waiting.
Paris is not my favorite city but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a good time. I try to make the best of any situation and find something that will bring me joy.
In Paris, my joy comes from enjoying food, drinks, and wonderful views while being treated amazingly and pretending I can afford it.