Is anyone surprised by this pick? With how much I loved the smaller, cheaper, less-renown cities, Paris has its cake and eats it, too. The reason why I loved Prague, Budapest, Oslo, and Krakow was because I couldn't compare them to Paris. If a city could be compared to Paris, it will always lose. Paris is the city of "more" and "better." Paris has more and better museums, it has more opulance, it has more and better monuments, it has more choices for great food, and the list could go on and on. This city is the epitome of a tourism city. It was born to be a host to a kid from Valparaiso, IN with limited French skills.
But then there is a side of Paris which goes beyond the superficial, albeit amazing, layer. There is a joie de vivre that does not exist in many cities. Tourist, and even locals, look like they are genuinely having a good time. Go to Montmatre and try not to smile. I will always remember just how much fun I had walking down a boring old street. I never felt that anywhere else. It's much like that peaceful sublime that I felt in Oslo, except this was a heart-filling joy. Paris makes you glad to be alive.
All the French history I've ever studied is on fabulous display here. Everything from Versailles, to the Louvre, to the Eiffel Tower...history is around every corner.
The grandest of the grand.
Features most of the "bests" of French cooking...and they are some of the bests in the world. http://noahschlueter.blogspot.com/2010/03/best-cuisine-2.html
Not bad, not great.
"It" Factor: 5
Even though I only put one of its museums in the top 5, it had the 6th and 7th rated (Pompidou, Orsay, Louvre). There were many more in addition to this.
I think everyone has a special moment in Paris. Mine came while looking down a Parisian garden at the Louvre. It was my first "I'm in France" moment. It nearly brought me to tears...honestly. But then again, who doesn't have a special moment in Paris. That fact makes Paris not all that special.
Return Factor: 3
This might not be fair because I went twice. But there's nothing more that I NEED to see. But of course, I'd love to return.
Cliche Factor: 1
Public Transport: 4
Really, pretty good.
Paris was made to get around as a tourist.
Tourism Industry: 5
It's like Paris invented tourism.
BIG...but not as big as you'd think.
Bang for the Buck: 4
Surprisingly, you can do quite a bit as a student. Lots of free entrances to museums. And most of what makes Paris, Paris, is free.