When my family and friends found out that I was officially going to be studying abroad in Paris, their first reaction was: We’re coming to visit!
Oftentimes, your semester abroad gives the people who love you a perfect excuse to come to Paris (though really, do you need an excuse?) Though as fun as it can be having everyone visit – for example, my dad and step mom, my mom, my aunt, and my good friend from high school are all visiting me during the month of March – it can feel overwhelming. The city has so much to offer in general, and mixed with school work and language immersion, it can be a more stressful experience than it should be. How do you show your family your Paris, and how can you guarantee that they fall in love with the city during their stay in the same way that you have?
I’ve come to realise that while things like the Eiffel Tower, the Arche de Triumph, the Louvre, the Champs-Elysées are fun and definitely worthwhile for a first-time visit to the city, the people who come to visit me want to see my Paris. My Paris self has only been up-close to the Eiffel Tower twice in the past two and a half months, and heavily frequents neighbourhoods like the Marais, the Latin Quarter, and Ile-de-la-Cité.
Stressed about where to bring your visitors? Here’s where to start:
- Your favorite neighbourhood café for an espresso – and the conversation that ensues about why the coffee is so small.
- The restaurant(s) you’ve been circling for the past two months but haven’t had the time to try yet. Show off your French when you order, and insist that you have a French menu! (It sounds impressive. Look up the fancy food words.)
- If your host parents are game, bring them over for dinner! Have them bring flowers so you can finally visit that neighbourhood florist you love to pass by on the way to the metro.
- That one bakery you always go to. Treat them to a smorgasbord of butter and bread.
- If you’re feeling adventurous, your favorite happy hour!
- Even better, if they manage to hang-on until the jetlag takes over, take them to your favorite late-night food place. Show mom and dad the magic of kebab.
- Show them your favorite piece of art in the city. (If you don’t have one yet, go to a museum together and decide which art you really don’t like. Oftentimes a little easier.)
- Take them to a neighbourhood you love and wander around there. Share anecdotes. Laugh a lot. Drink lots of wine together.