The city of light, the city of love. There are so many clichés to describe Paris, and only once one has visited the famed city, does one know why. I have been lucky enough to visit four times, and my love for the city has developed from that of a naïve infatuation to a deep and meaningful respect.
Your first trip is like meeting someone for the first time. With excitement and anticipation you look forward to discovering everything about them. You explore the city with an innocence and your head in the clouds. After recognising the landmarks your head spins with the reality that you have finally made it there.
Some may never return, happy to have had the opportunity to have visited. But for many who do travel back, the experience may be different from the first. You find new places to explore and return to your favourites. On your rediscovery, you may start to notice things that you might have ignored the initial time. The dog poo on the sidewalk, the smell of the metro, and the numerous suspicious looking characters trying to sell you souvenirs or sign a petition. Reality kicks in that Paris is really just like any other city.
The last time I arrived at Charles de Gaulle in 2013, I recall seeing the Bienvenue à Paris (Welcome to Paris) sign and smiling to myself (probably looking completely mad!). Despite the numerous hours of travelling to get there, I happen to find a grin on my face on every trip. Each trip has been such a different experience, with each one revealing something new. I have accepted all of the so-called “negative” aspects as part and parcel of the whole Parisian experience. Like with anything you love, you have to know and take both the good and bad.