6 pleasantly surprising finds during our stay in Paris and its region during the RWC
The Louvre, Eiffel Tower and Champs-Eylsees are all fairly well known around the world and while Parisians love their major attractions, they largely sell themselves.
Rugby News spent a week in Paris and its region with our friends at Paris Je t’aime and Visit Paris Region during the Rugby World Cup and spent most of it off the beaten track and away from the major attractions.
It was a fantastic way to see Paris and helps you realise that the city and the region has far more to offer than the typical tourist trail.
It’s not a stopover city, it needs to be explored. Here are a few pleasantly surprising points that we learned during our stay in Paris and its region during the Rugby World Cup.
The Parisians really know and love their rugby
It’s not hard for an event as big as the Rugby World Cup to take over a city, but after chatting to many local Parisians during my time in France, I came to realise just how quickly rugby is closing the gap to Football as France’s favourite sport.
Sure, it’s got a long way to go. But the gap is certainly closing.
Parisians know their rugby and those that were new or newer to the game were really keen to learn more about it. This will only increase when Rugby Sevens is played at the Paris Olympics next year.
Combine that mainstream interest with French rugby’s strong financial position and prospering development programs and it’s safe to say Les Bleus are going to be a serious force in World Rugby in the coming decades.
Paris is very green
Paris’ pursuit of a greener planet and a cleaner city becomes apparent from the moment you arrive.
More than 12 million people live in the Paris Region but the city has dramatically reduced the amount of single use plastics it uses and the recycling program around the city is first class.
A portion of the Rugby Village in Paris was also dedicated to educating young people on the importance of recycling and protecting our environment.
The uptake of electric cars is also miles ahead of Australia. There’s even an Uber like car service, CaoCao, that has converted old Black Cabs into electric vehicles with massive glass sunroofs. The cost is similar to a taxi and you can stare up at the beautiful city, while doing your bit for the environment along the way.
Craft beer is really taking off
Parisians are drinking less wine than ever before.
Led by the younger generation, craft beer is really taking off around France and in Paris, most small bars proudly stock quality, locally produced beer.
We visited Brasserie de l’Être, a small but proudly Parisian craft brewery in the backstreets of Paris’ 19th Arrondissement.
The beers were sensational but owner Edward told us that things have remained tough since Covid for the smaller players in the industry, despite more people drinking craft beer than ever before.
If you’re in Paris and get a chance, look past the big brands and opt for a local craft beer when you can.
There’s a lot of work being done
The city is in overdrive to get ready for next year’s Olympics. While it didn’t take away from things during the rugby, there has clearly been a lot of investment in the infrastructure around the city, which will benefit locals and tourists alike for many years to come.
They’re also managing the massive reconstruction of Notre-Dame Cathedral and its lesser known rival Basilica of Saint-Denis.
There really is something for everyone
There is so much variety around Paris and its region. It truly does have something for everyone.
Paris city is split into 20 Arrondissements or districts and no district is quite like another. While the 7th Arrondissement has the Eiffel Tower, the 18th Arrondissement has Montmartre.
If it’s luxury shopping you’re after, head to the Champs-Elysees in the 8th Arrondissement, or if flea markets are more your style, the Puces de Saint-Ouen are well worth a visit and packed with locals and tourists alike when they are open every Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
And all that is before you even begin to discover the outer suburbs of the Paris Region, highlighted by the beautiful suburb of Versailles, which seems a lifetime away from the hustle and bustle of Paris, despite being only a 25 minutes train ride from the centre of the city.
Trains in Paris actually work
When there is so much to see, you need a way to get around and fortunately Paris’ train network actually works. It couldn’t be less like Sydney.
Like any major city, traffic can be congested at times, but the Metro system allows you to skip all of that and make your way from most corners of the city to the other. It’s a little rough and ready, but it’s fast and reliable and it gets you where you need.