The first time was in high school on a school trip. We were there for two days on a whirlwind tour of Europe. We saw the Eiffel tour which was over crowded the same view as any tall building. We had an hour to run through the Louvre which would have been cooler had we had more time. We visited a perfume museum and I bought my ultimate favorite perfume, Fragonard by Fragonard. We toured the nauseatingly gaudy Versailles. We ate some French food that was drowned in some sort of sauce. My memories of the bread and cheese was good though. In general, I had expected something more. The romantics and the movies made it seem like the place should glitter.
The second time I went to Paris I went with my husband and one year old son. We lived in Paris for a month like a local. We shopped, attended church, and wandered around like the locals. We were able to celebrate our 8th anniversary at a cafe near the apartment we had rented for a month. The rest of the meals was bought at the local Monoprix which still cost double than our budget anywhere else. I also have to mention I was in the early stages of pregnancy and it was horribly hot in Paris in August! We went to most of the same places I went to in high school and quite a bit more. I did enjoy the cathedrals and the museums. We saw the Arc de Triumph and parts of the various arrondissements. We even strolled down the fashionable Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, the Luxemburgh Jardin, and the bridges over the Seine river. I still didn’t really get what there was to jump up and down about.
In my opinion, you need to go to Paris to spend money and stay in nice hotels that have central air and heat. If you go with a tight wife-of-a-PhD-student budget, you won’t be able to do much. The draw of Paris is the shopping. If you don’t like shopping than you won’t like Paris. They probably do have some of the best food in the world, but I wouldn’t know. You get what you pay for. Paris in not in a hurry. People sit around and watch people. I didn’t see people in high fashions, just wearing what they liked like everyone else.
Don’t get me wrong. Paris is not a horrible place, but it isn’t on my top 50 to go back to. I just don’t mesh with it.