Paris Syndrome. Defined as “A sense of extreme disappointment exhibited by some individuals when visiting Paris, who feel that the city was not what they had expected.”
Paris was the third city that my two friends and I traveled to on our Europe backpacking trip. Prior to that, we went to Amsterdam and Dublin, both of which we absolutely loved.
After Paris, my two friends had flights to leave Europe and head home back to Indiana. I would continue to three other countries for another two weeks. So, we felt the need to make the most of it; a final hurrah for the group.
The three of us were riding high as we left Dublin, which had been the best kind of chaos. I had been to Paris back in March with the Footsteps of Ernie Pyle class at IU. I fell in love with the city way more than I had ever expected. Something about the romance language mixed with the croissant and espresso breakfasts — I just thoroughly enjoyed every minute I was there.
However, this trip did not go quite the same.
Beginning in the airport, everything that could go wrong did. Our flight was delayed, and we ended up spending almost five total hours in the Dublin airport. Not the worst thing in the world, completely doable and not trip-ruining material by any means.
We landed in Paris at around 11:00 p.m. and took a 45-minute Uber to our hostel.
Upon arrival, we could already tell this wasn’t the best environment. The neighborhood surrounding the hostel looked quite sketchy and the lobby of the hostel was filled with blaring music and hundreds of partygoers. At first glance, the hostel was lacking in safety and sleep. Little did we know how true that was.
Immediately upon entering our rooms, we were hit by 85–90-degree air. The rooms have no air conditioning and opening a window does nothing considering it is equally as hot outside. We pushed through the night, none of us sleeping and all of us exiting the room the next morning covered in sweat.
It was our friend Jasmine’s last day in Europe, so we pushed through the dehydration and exhaustion and set out to see as much of Paris as possible. First stop: Montmartre.
The heat was extreme for it only being 8:00 a.m. and climbing over a hundred stairs to reach the Sacré Coeur led to even more excessive sweating. The view was worth it, though.
We explored more of Montmartre until there was a coffee spilled on our friend River's shirt and we decided it was time to migrate to a less populated area.
Fun fact: that is impossible to do in Paris during peak tourist season.
Paris was crowded. Just walking was a challenge, and don’t even get me started on the hot and sweaty metro stations. By the time we reached the Notre Dame, our next stop, we were all prepared to scream at the next person who came within a foot of us.
The streak of luck continued as Jasmine suddenly couldn’t breathe very well. Our best assumption was heat exhaustion from the lack of water we were consuming and the excessive heat of the city. We focused on getting her water and taking a rest.
With little battery in our phones and in our bodies, we decided to head back to the hostel and evaluate our next move. Our stroke of luck continued when we found bed bugs in our hostel beds. That was our final straw for the hostel. We called our parents and cried (literally) for help. None of us knew what to do.
We are all very fortunate to have parents willing to help us in a time of need, and between the three sets of parents, we had three nights of hotels booked – with air conditioning.
After moving hotels and scrubbing our bodies in the shower to get rid of any bed bugs, we made our way to dinner. Since it was Jasmine’s last and only night, we decided to go to a nice dinner and end the night watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle.
I know, how much else could go wrong? Well, let me tell you.
As we walked to the train station, it began to rain. Only a little at first and then within seconds, a full-on downpour. We sprinted through the rain into the underground station where we hid out until we decided we had no choice but to sprint to the restaurant.
Nothing else can happen with only so little time left in the night, right? Wrong.
We finally make it to the Eiffel Tower. No more rain. Things are looking up.
It’s 11:30 p.m., meaning 30 minutes until the Eiffel Tower sparkles. We take our pictures and make our way down to the Seine River to a secret viewpoint that we were told about earlier in the trip.
11:45 p.m. and the Eiffel Tower goes black. Turns off. To conserve energy the tower shuts off at 11:45 every night, which none of us had any idea about.
Sad, disappointed, sweaty, hot and any other adjective you can think of that is a synonym to miserable, we headed back to the hotel.
Paris Syndrome: Extreme disappointment upon arriving in Paris. Maybe we can chalk it up to bad luck or we can blame global warming for creating the Urban Heat Island Effect, but either way, Paris Syndrome was very real for the three of us.
However, as always, everything is a learning experience. We learned a very important lesson during our time in Paris: Don’t travel to travel hotspots in mid-June and peak tourist season.
Gentry Keener (she/her) is a junior studying journalism and political science.