Paris syndrome (French: Syndrome de Paris, Japanese: パリ症候群, Pari shōkōgun) is a transient mental disorder exhibited by some individuals when visiting or vacationing to Paris, as a result of extreme shock resulting from their finding out that Paris is not what they had expected it to be. (Wikipedia)
It is true, ladies and gentlemen. Paris syndrome is not a myth.
Paris is hyped as the romance capital of the world – a posh and sophisticated city, perfect for your honeymoon, or so they say. While most dream of seeing the grandiose Eiffel Tower, a great number of tourists experience an underwhelming encounter with the French icon. How many times have I heard my colleagues and friends say that they don’t want to go back to Paris because they’ve already “seen it”, or that it’s disappointing, or that they’re simply not interested anymore.
But I have something to confess… I LOVE PARIS! Musée du Louvre, pain au chocolat (all day errday), Parisians smoking cigarettes, all-black outfits, and of course, the French accent. 😉 That is exactly Paris in cliché, and that’s the beauty of it. Those things that you see in magazines, you can experience it too. You just have to learn how.
I’m sure you’ve seen articles of travelers’ expectations versus reality of famous landmarks. Unfortunately, they’re real. An influx of tourists ALWAYS ruins your expectations of a place. What can I do? I’m not the only one who wants to see Notre Dame Cathedral; I can’t possibly have the Eiffel Tower all to myself, especially on a beautiful spring day; and well, the Mona Lisa is painted by that famous artist from Vinci, so people may want to see it too.
Here are some tips, if you’re planning to visit the city.
First, never underestimate the early birds (this, coming from me. Hahah!). Those tourists who shall not be named, their tour groups usually arrive around lunch time. So if you beat them to it, you will appreciate the place more and have awesome pictures, like these…
This goes especially for the Louvre. Once you get inside, go past everything else, and head straight to the Renaissance paintings in the first floor. You will only appreciate the Mona Lisa if the room is (almost) empty, and you see it, small and unassuming, standing alone in the center of a great hall. Otherwise, forget it. Mona Lisa Syndrome is way too real.
Second, learn to zone out. Create your own little world. Famous places will always have crowds, and that can’t be helped. Focus on the beautiful, and ignore the ugly. Music always helps! I’ll tell you a secret. When I’m in London, I usually have my earphones on, listening to The Beatles. So when in Paris, listen to French music! This will set the mood, and make you feel like you’re in a movie. Listen to this playlist on Spotify for inspiration. 🙂
Third, research beforehand. You don’t want to spend the entire afternoon getting lost, standing on long queues, or going somewhere not really worth the time. Hmm, come to think of it, part of the fun is also getting lost, and ending up in an unexpectedly enchanting place. 🙂 Okay, this is a subjective, but nevertheless good advice. Maybe if you have a free day? I wouldn’t know, I’m always on a tight schedule. :))
Fourth, don’t be afraid to wander. Quiet streets, a little bakeshop with amazing profiteroles, a charming antique shop, or a café with the perfect corner spot… those “finds” that you won’t see in tourism ads, or read about in blogs. Those things that only you will have an experience of. This, for me, is the best part.
Fifth, go to Paris with someone you love. I am an absolute solo travel promoter, but being with my mom back in 2015 is an entirely different, and more wonderful experience. 🙂
Sixth, and most importantly, be grateful. It’s not everyday that you’re in Paris! Appreciate the opportunity given to you, and everything will surely be beautiful. 🙂