I visited Paris for the first time and here are 8 things they do better than Toronto

After spending much of my early twenties in quarantine due to the pandemic, I couldn’t wait to leave Toronto and explore a new city in the summer of 2021.

That’s why, when I managed to score a few weeks off, I jumped on the first affordable round-trip tickets to Europe I could find, and my first stop was Paris.

After spending more than a week in the City of Love, here are all the things that made me fall in love with the city of Paris.

(Sorry, Toronto.)

Speakeasy Bars

@ callme.ledi

Speakeasy “hidden” in Paris🤫🍸✨ #speakeasy #speakeasybar #paris

While Toronto has some dreamy underground bars, the ones in Paris are definitely the winners. I managed to find two different underground bars in Paris, and both of them blew me away in terms of decor, comfort, drinks and ambiance.

I went to a sweatshop called Lavomatic, which looked like a laundromat from the outside, but one of the washing machines opened and revealed a staircase leading to a cozy bar with a lovely view of Paris.

My friend and I each had two drinks, and even though our bill was € 45, I would pay him again for this Negroni. The seating situation at the bar, which consisted of pillows on the floor and swings, was probably my favorite thing about it all.

Another underground bar that I managed to join was called L’Epicier, except this one looked like an Arab grocery store.

Speakeasies in Paris take their themes seriously.

Coffee culture

Sameen Chaudhry | Narcity

Granted, very little surpasses sipping an overpriced oatmeal latte and reading a book on a lazy Sunday at a hip Toronto cafe.

But I managed to find the only thing that works; spend an afternoon sitting on the heated terrace of a Parisian café, drinking mulled wine and watching the world go by until sunset.

Doing all the touristy things can be fun, but lounging in a cafe gives you a taste of Parisian life. In a city like Paris where so much is going on around you, it can be quite endearing to slow down and take a look at the lives of the people who live there.

Museums and art galleries

Sameen Chaudhry | Narcity

Yes, the AGO and ROM are great, but nothing really compares to the Louvre and the Center Pompidou. While the Mona Lisa was a bit of a disappointment to see in person, the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the rest of the Louvre made up for that.

I will say that if you want to see the Center Pompidou you will have to carve out a good chunk of your day as the line can take hours.

Thrift stores

Sameen Chaudhry | Narcity

I’ll be honest; I didn’t expect to find anything in thrift stores in Paris that I couldn’t find at Kensington Market in Toronto. That was until I found myself in my 11th thrift store in Paris, spending the last of my budget “buy yourself something good”. And that was only the second day of my trip.

My favorite store had to be the Kilo Shop, where the price of each item was based on its weight. – a concept that I have not yet seen in Canada.


Sameen Chaudhry | Narcity

I wanted to have the whole Parisian experience, which meant indulging in great food at classic Paris restaurants – the ones Toronto just can’t match.

One of my favorites was the highly acclaimed restaurant called Le Verre Volé, which is known for its wide selection of natural wines and hearty French cuisine.

We started with the classic French snail, followed by what could have been the best lamb I have ever had. We, of course, washed everything with a bottle of natural wine, which still had bits of grape skin floating around.

Although I will say that if you want to go here you will need to reserve a place well in advance as this place is always booked and busy.


Sameen Chaudhry | Narcity

Paris has done a fantastic job maintaining its classic French architecture and not letting modern design take over its facades. It’s a lovely break from Toronto, which looks more and more like NYC every year, with its skyscrapers and endless supply of gray condos.

Unlike Toronto, which no longer looks like it was 100 years ago, Paris can be said to have retained much of the charm of its long history. The buildings are well maintained, but you can tell they haven’t been changed significantly in many years.


It goes without saying that the French know what they are doing when it comes to making a good croissant.

What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was how every croissant made in Canada would taste underwhelming after eating those in Parisian bakeries.

I might have eaten more croissants and baguettes than my body weight while I was there, and the only thing I regret is that I didn’t eat more while I had some. ‘opportunity.

Cheap wine

Tea | The time of dreams

While a lot was going better in Paris, the # 1 thing I miss the most is cheap wine. We were drinking € 2 bottles of wine per day, which was just under CA $ 3! Toronto never could.

You’d think the price would reflect in its taste, but no, I haven’t come across a single bottle of crappy wine.

Tip: take your bottle opener with you because all the bottles of wine in Paris – even the cheapest – are clogged.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.


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