I found that Paris was grossly overhyped, resulting in throngs of Eastern Asian tourists everywhere. It was pleasant nonetheless. Surprisingly, we did not meet anyone who was unfriendly; all the waitstaff scrambled to speak to us in English even though I could manage some broken French.
As a Singaporean living in Istanbul for the past few months, I have sorely missed turning on the tap for clean and tasty potable water. In Istanbul, everyone orders water delivery or buys bottled water from the supermarket. This costs about 25 cents per litre and an inordinate amount of plastic waste. In London, tap water was potable but you might find some white calcium deposits floating in your cup (not anything a Brita filter can’t fix, though).
But in Paris, the water was not only safe to drink but tasted fresh and crisp, almost sweet. My friends think I’m on drugs for obsessing about the tap water, but I am just sensitive to the way water should taste. Apparently, if you want to order water at the restaurant and the server asks you what kind, you could answer “Chateau la pompe” if you want to sound French and witty. It’s just a dad-humour kind of way to ask for water from the tap/pump.
London has a park culture, Paris has a garden culture. The gardens of Paris had less green grass and more manicured trees and hedges. Stone fountains and statues dotted the garden grounds. There were many chairs for visitors to rest on, we saw many who took the chance for a nap. It was nice to pack a picnic and watch children race boats in the fountain, or to document my surroundings in my little sketchbook.
Of course, you don’t pay for a plane ticket to Paris just to drink their tap water or sit in the gardens, right? The Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysees, etc. are all landmarks worthy of your gaze. But the real deal for me were the extensive museum collections available to the public. Skip the Museé du Louvre if you haven’t booked tickets online, or if your sole purpose is to see the Mona Lisa. You will be underwhelmed. It’s just good marketing. Don’t be a basic bitch.
Instead, pay for a joint ticket to Museé du L’Orangerie and Museé d’Orsay. The latter has a huge collection spanning five floors, consisting scores of Monets, Picassos, Cezannes, and their contemporaries. For the more traditional art lovers, there are also many classical academic and renaissance paintings and sculptures on display.
Museé du L’Orangerie was by far, my favourite. The size of the museum was very manageable, the number of pieces curated for each artist was enough to show their artistic evolution and still adequately hold your attention. End your visit at the Nymphes exhibition, a vestibule that Claude Monet designed for the Parisiens to relax in during a tumultuous time decades ago in France.
(I believe the joint ticket also gives you complimentary entry to the Opera Garnier—which is a beautiful place that Esna loves.) (We were too tired to go, maybe next time.)