Disappointing photos of 5 iconic attractions in Paris, from the overcrowded Louvre to a legendary café now called a 'tourist trap'

Shutterstock/NaughtyNut, ReutersExpectation vs. reality.
  • More than 41 million people visited Paris in 2017.
  • While the French capital can be a magical place, some of its most iconic attractions don’t always live up to the hype.
  • From the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre to Montmartre, you might find them to be insanely overcrowded, overrun with rats, turned into “tourist traps,” or closed due to strikes.

Not for nothing does Paris see more than 41 million visitors a year.

Its iconic museums, beautiful Haussmanian architecture, immaculate parks, cultural activities, and of course, its food, all place the French capital high up on the list of many travellers.

But these disappointing photos show that some of the city’s most iconic attractions, from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre to the Sacre Coeur basilica at Montmartre, don’t always live up to the hype.

Paris, the City of Lights, is one of the most-visited and beloved cities in the world.


The French capital is known for its food and café culture …

… its fashion …

Getty ImagesLou Doillon, daughter of Jane Birkin, in Paris.

… world-class cultural attractions …

Shutterstock/wjarekSculpture of the Three Shades, inspired with Divine Comedy of Dante, in the gardens of Musée Rodin.

… and charming cobblestoned streets.

Catarina Belova/Shutterstock

Source: Paris Info

And of course, it’s a famously romantic destination.

More than 41 million people from around the world visited Paris in 2017 to see some of its most iconic attractions …

Source: Paris Info

… including the city’s most famous landmark, the Eiffel Tower, built in just two years for the 1889 World’s Fair.

Source: Tour Eiffel

The Eiffel Tower is quintessential Paris, and a visit to the structure is seen as practically mandatory for tourists.


But many see it as overrated. According to The Local, you have to either wait in line for hours or book far in advance to get a place on one of the elevators that will take you to the top.

Source: The Local

Read more: Disappointing photos show what Venice looks like in real life, from extreme overcrowding and devastating floods to pollution from cruise ships

Otherwise, you can walk up the 674 steps to the second floor, which will take you 30 to 45 minutes.

Source: The Local, Eiffel Tower

When you make it to the top, your view might be obscured anyway by the crowds.

Shutterstock/Resul Muslu

That’s if the Eiffel Tower is open at all.

Some unlucky tourists have found the Eiffel Tower closed on account of worker strikes …

… only to then have to wait in long lines at the information booth, presumably to inquire about the tickets they had already paid for.

Another world-famous Paris attraction is the iconic avenue, the Champs Élysées …

Shutterstock/Ioan Panaite

… with its luxury boutiques and hotels …


… and the Arc de Triomphe.


In theory, a stroll down the iconic Champs Élysées seems dreamy.

Shutterstock/Ekaterina Pokrovsky

But most locals avoid the Champs Élysées at all costs because of the hordes of tourists.


Source: Business Insider

And the cafés can be just as crowded.

Shutterstock/Radu Razvan

Source: Business Insider

Travel + Leisure included the Champs Élysées on its list of the 95 most overrated attractions in the world, noting that apart from the view of the famous Arc de Triomphe and the boutiques — most of which can be found in other countries — the avenue has very little appeal.

Source: Travel + Leisure

Then there’s the Louvre, the most well-known museum in Paris and one of the most famous in the world.


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The Louvre dates back to the late twelfth century and was once a royal residence. It’s a stunning sight …


Source: Louvre

… and the inside, with its vast collection of priceless works of art, is just as impressive.

But more than 8 million people visited the museum in 2017, and the lines to get in certainly reflect that number.

Getty Images

Source: Louvre Presse

So if you intend to visit the museum, prepare to wait.

Getty Images

Once you finally get in, you’ll likely want to see one of the Louvre’s most prominent works of art: the Mona Lisa — but don’t expect to see it quite this close.

Instead, your view will probably be more like this.

Or maybe like this, if you’re lucky.

Considering the number of people who visit the Louvre each day and that most of them will want a glimpse (and a photo) of the Mona Lisa, it’s perhaps not surprising that the site of the painting typically looks like this.

But it’s not just the Mona Lisa. As one of the most-visited museums in the world, the Louvre as a whole is almost always crowded.

Source: Louvre Presse

“Don’t expect to get many pictures without other visitors in them,” one visitor wrote on TripAdvisor. “There are so many who visit there is literally no ‘best time’ to visit.”

Source: TripAdvisor

It can be exhausting trying to see as much as possible of the world’s largest museum, but you won’t have an easy time finding a place to sit down and rest.

Source: Louvre

Another of Paris’ most recognisable sights is the Notre-Dame Cathedral on the banks of the Seine.

If you plan to visit, be sure to watch out for the rats, which apparently overrun the area around the cathedral, according to TripAdvisor reviews. The city recently installed anti-rat garbage containers to help curb the problem.

Source: Reuters

The neighbourhood of Montmartre, which sits on a hill overlooking Paris, is one of the most popular neighbourhoods of the city for tourists …


Source: The Local

… which means the streets are almost always crammed with people.

Getty Images

The famous Place du Tertre caters almost solely to tourists, with painters selling portraits to tourists.

Getty Images

Source: Montmartre Guide

“Restos and bars around the place are overpriced (save your money to eat somewhere else) and it’s only full of touristy shops,” one person wrote on TripAdvisor. “This is not the best side of Paris, and there are far prettier places to go too.”

Source: TripAdvisor

Another person wrote that Place du Tertre is only worth a visit “if you are interested in having your portrait sketched or are interested in buying some cheap trinkets or second rate art.”

Getty ImagesPlace du Tertre in Montmartre, Paris.

Source: TripAdvisor

Sacre Coeur, the basilica that sits at the top of Montmartre, is the highest point in the city and the second most-visited monument in Paris.

Shutterstock/Marcello Landolfi

Source: Getty Images

Its popularity means that it’s usually swarming with visitors, particularly in the summer months.

Getty Images

The views of the city are great, but they will come with views of crowds of people with selfie sticks and backpacks.

Getty Images

And don’t expect to have a quiet moment to yourself in the beautiful interior of the cathedral. That, too, will be packed with people.

Getty Images

Another of Paris’ most legendary destinations is not a museum or a basilica, but a humble café: Café de Flore.

Shutterstock/Petr Kovalenkov

Source: Café de Flore

Artists and writers including Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Jean Paul Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir, once worked and socialised there.

Source: Café de Flore

But according to TripAdvisor reviews, it has turned into an overpriced tourist trap where you can expect to pay $US25 for a sandwich.

Getty Images

Source: TripAdvisor

“Probably because this place was mentioned in many guide books, prices are unreasonable there,” one reviewer wrote. “Food is average. Service is plain horrible. … Walking by and take a picture is more than enough for this place.”

Getty Images

Source: TripAdvisor

Ultimately, though, Paris may have its flaws like any other city, but it still remains an iconic travel destination.


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