Top 3 things that surprised me in Paris

The Eiffel Tower, a view from Arc de Triomphe

The Eiffel Tower, a view from Arc de Triomphe

As I was in Paris, I expected things to be different. And they really were… compared with the life in my home country ofc (Bulgaria)! I saw a lot of interesting and unique places and things I wanted to see for a long time. Some of them were better than I thought. But there were some things that surprised me more than I expected… things that even shocked me.

Here they are:

1. People cross the streets on red lights…

I saw this as a rule – when the traffic light is red for pedestrians, they all cross the streets! Well it wasn’t really like that, but it was quite shocking to me that everyone crossed the street whenever there were no cars, even thought the light was red. I noticed that “rule” on my first day in Paris and on my 3th I already crossed the street as locals did, even though I was not very comfortable with that.

I don’t know how the other countries are but here in Bulgaria you can’t really take the risk to cross on red light. In small aleys – sure, but the big streets are not made for Parisians.

Champs-Élysées, a view from Arc de Triomphe

2. People are extriemly polite!

I hear and read that all the  time – people in France are not very polite especially with strangers. Well, guess what, you’re kinda wrong! I’ve met exactly zero persons who were unpolite or rude to me. I only saw smiles, a lot of pardons and responsiveness. From the guys at the metro counters, who explained us how to get to Disneyland and Versailles in details, through the people who checked our tickets (controllers?), and to the unknown people on the streets who said “pardon” even if you were “guilty” for a certain inconvenience. Anyway, the kindness of Parisians was a  pleasent surprise!


3. Cheap food, pricey food!

I expected everything in Paris to be expensive. And it really was. But some things, like food, was a lot more expensive than I thought they will be, especially the fast food – McDonalds, KFC, Subway, etc. It was like 5-6 euro for the smallest burger! It exceeded my price expectations. But what also surprised me was how cheap was the food in the supermarkets. I know it’s supposed to be cheaper but it was a lot more affordable than I thought. It was possible to get food for the whole day just for around 5 euro!

Delicious sweets in Paris

BONUS: And another thing that surprised me was that Parisians really eat baguettes! I thought this was only on the movies but I was wrong! And their baguettes were delicious!

What really surprised YOU when you were in Paris for the first time?


Written by

Travel blogger and tourism graduate from Bulgaria, working in the field of Digital Marketing and PR for travel brands.

Latest comments
  • My visit to Paris was some time ago, I found Parisians not too friendly. Some were quite helpful and some were quite rude. The wonderful food markets in the city were a surprise. Fresh red ripe tomatoes, all types of fresh cheese and baguettes! Took it back to our room at the top of five flights of stairs among the heating pipes and had a wonderful feed and very inexpensive.

  • Crossing the street on red lights is an all French thing 🙂 People do the same in Besancon, where I currently live all the time. Yet, I like that you can ride a bike safely and the drivers are very careful!

    And about baguettes – I feel like everyone starring at me when I leave the supermarket or bulangerie without a baguette popping out of my bag 🙂 The fun thing I’ve seen is a guy with 3 of them riding on a bike ;D He just hid them under his half-zipped jacket.

  • I visited Paris a bit more than a year ago for the first time, and there were two surprising things I remember well. One of them was incompatibility of hotels and their prices – I stayed at two hotels and found both of them to be extremely overpriced for what they were. And the other thing that amazed me is that Parisians speak of Paris as a small little place you can walk though in an hour. It was so funny for me to hear, I still refuse to believe it’s true!!