Paris 101

That waiter over there? Yeah, he’s judging you.

Paris leaves an impression on everyone, from students perfecting their langue française to tourists who wonder why the French don’t pronounce half the consonants in each word. This city has been home to countless films, daydreams, and kings named Louis, and it easily destroys all diets with its arsenal of buttery croissants and delicate pastries. Nearly everyone in the world idealizes Paris, whether it’s for the Eiffel Tower, the intellectual literary cafes, or the impossibly chic and be-scarfed denizens of the city. But don’t let yourself be disillusioned by ideals—yes, everyone is in love with Paris, but this place can be rough. When you get Englished for the first time (when your mangled French inquiry is interrupted with an English response), you’ll start to realize that your Converse won’t cut it after all and that maybe you should have paid more attention in French class. Paris will charm and bitchslap you with equal gusto, but don’t get too le tired—think of it as a gentle form of Parisian hazing. Once you learn your way around the narrow, cobblestoned streets and nail down your merci, beaucoup, Paris will be more spectacular than ever. Some tiny corner of it will be yours in memory and experience, whether it’s admiring a painting in an empty room at the Louvre (they exist), listening to the bells of Notre Dame chime as you sit by the Seine, sunbathing in the gorgeous Jardin du Luxembourg, or biting into your first Nutella banana crêpe. Slow down and don’t worry about how well you’re fitting in—this city is big and captivating enough for everyone to claim their little slice.

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The Paris Top 5

  • Panthéon

    If there’s one building that doesn’t know the meaning of antidisestablishmentarianism, it’s the Panthéon.

  • Musée d'Orsay

    Aesthetic taste is fickle. When a handful of artists were rejected from the Louvre salon in the 19th century, they opened an exhibition across the way, prompting both the scorn of stick-up-their-arses académiciens and the rise of Impressionism. Today, people line up at the Musée d’Orsay to see this collection of groundbreaking rejects.

  • Jardin des Tuileries

    The gardens grew as each successive king added something to call his own.

  • Centre Pompidou

    The center’s functions are as varied as its colors; it serves as a cultural theme park of ultra-modern exhibition, performance, and research space.

  • Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

    Not your average Parisian park, the Buttes-Chaumont was modeled after Hyde Park in London, but it seems more like Pandora from "Avatar."


Let’s Go!


Let’s Go!


Let’s Go!


Let’s Go!

Paris Blogs

207, 2014
  • Paris Trains

A Toast to Trains

By |Paris|0 Comments

The beauty of railroads in France.

Tomorrow I’ll be traveling from Paris to Blois, France to take a look at some beautiful chateaus built by the former French aristocracy.

Wait, what?!

I totally forgot to book any sort of transport to Blois during my last days in Paris. I don’t have a car, and inter-city travel via plane isn’t nearly as widespread here as it is in the U.S. My AirBNB reservation ends tomorrow, and I fear the consequences of leaving this last cocoon of Parisian hospitality: my rented queen bed in a quiet part of the 11th arrondissement.

Hold on a second: France […]

2806, 2014
  • McDonald's Paris Let's Go

Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way

By |Paris|0 Comments

On the necessary evil of McDonald’s in Paris.
McDonald’s is a travel writer’s best friend.

Part of this job requires traveling hostel to hostel, bunk bed to bunk bed, free wifi code to free wifi code. That means that most of this job isn’t really pegged to something I can call home (save a recent stay at Shakespeare and Company bookstore, which was amazing).

McDonald’s has become, in a sad state of affairs, my travel home.

It’s not their food, nor their famously warm ambiance. It’s the free wifi. Aside from Starbucks—which has spotty Internet and besides that always seems somewhat vaguely judgmental, in […]

2506, 2014
  • Paris Ballet Let's Go

Bad Seats and Good Shows

By |Paris|0 Comments

Notes from the Paris ballet.

I went to see some ballet tonight, unsure what would come of it: more tourist traps in a city (at least somewhat) known for lots of flashy advertisements without much substance behind them, or a night worthy of the admittedly paltry sum I had paid for it? Tickets were 12EU, I was told, for a seat that “overlooked the stage.” I forgot to specify in my conversation with the clerk the actual distance above the stage I would be seated in order to “overlook” it, which turned out to be a very great distance indeed. I […]

2306, 2014
  • Matt Shuham Paris Shakespeare and Co

Not Nearly a Tourist Anymore…

By |Paris|0 Comments

Finding lodging at Shakespeare & Co. in Paris
It’s been a busy few days here, though the main change from last week is one of housing: gone (temporarily) are budget hostels and the anonymous roommates who inhabit them. In their place: a temporary bed at Shakespeare and Company, the Seine-side bookstore with a decades-old history in Paris’ English literary scene. The shop offers beds to writers (nicknamed “tumbleweeds,” as the tenants are usually just passing through) in exchange for a bit of help around the shop and our commitment to read a book a day.

The S&C experience is great, though it […]

1706, 2014
  • Matt Shuham Brooklyn Rising

Brooklyn Rising

By |Paris|0 Comments

Le Williamsburg.
Oh what a week it’s nearly been. My plane touched down in Paris during the wee hours of June 11th, Wednesday. You can see it happen in the video I made for my previous blog. Since then, it’s been 6 days of visiting new museums (Rodin’s stands out as a favorite), meeting new people, trying new food, and exploring a Parisian nightlife that before now I hadn’t really had a chance to experience. It’s also been a time of learning the quirks of day-to-day French life: When to say bonsoir instead of* bonne nuit*. When bread is likely to […]

1606, 2014
  • paris-eiffel

Matt Goes to Paris

By |Paris|0 Comments

On arriving in France.

After 15 hours of overnight travel (and no sunsets – thanks Iceland Air!) I made it to Paris yesterday. It feels great to be here in the city and to finally able to start writing. I don’t feel like a total outsider here, but suffice it to say I don’t need to open my mouth before a waiter asks if I’d like him to speak English. I usually answer “oui” for fun, but no one appreciates that joke.

The overwhelming realization I’ve had these two days–the one I’ve always had spending time in Paris–is that enjoying time here […]

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