This is now the third time that I’ve had a family member call to tell me that they’re “coming to visit me.” And by “coming to visit me,” I really mean “going to Paris and want me to meet them there.” To be fair, my mom did ever so kindly stop by Brussels for about a 24 hour period before we hauled out to Paris, so this is really directed towards my brother and my aunt/cousin (no shade. I still love you guys). Let’s get one thing clear – it’s not me you’re coming to visit, it’s Paris.
But, when I really think about it, it goes a lot like this:
Like I’ve already said, Brussels is tiny. You could clear the most interesting points of Brussels (the Mannekin Pis, Grand Place, The Magritte Museum – if you’re the artsy type) in less than a day. On the other hand, Paris is enormous. By the end of my stay in Europe, I’ll have visited Paris at least four times (once before studying abroad), and I don’t think I could ever run out of things to do in Paris. And maybe it’s because I’m living in Brussels and that I’ve already habituated myself to life here, but I want it to be very clear, that even though I’m complaining about having to spend all my weekends in Paris, I’m really not complaining at all. If someone told me they had three days to spend in Brussels, I’d honestly tell them to maybe look into visiting some of the surrounding towns, like Antwerp, Bruges, or Liège. If someone told me they had three days in Paris, I’d probably wonder how they’re narrowing down their list of things to do.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being here in Brussels, and I don’t for a second regret choosing Belgium over France. However, I do think that the friends I’ve made here both within my program and my housemates play a large role in that. And if I’m being completely honest, if I were able to visit only one French speaking city in Europe, I’m pretty sure I’d pick Paris too.
Conclusion: I don’t really blame my family for picking Paris over Brussels, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to complain.