Paris has a special something not easily described with words–and that’s a tricky dilemma for travel writers. It’s not The Eiffel Tower, although it is special, and one of the most iconic landmarks in the world. Whatever it is, even for battle-hardened journalists, it’s easy to be swept away by the charms of this city. Paris has been a center of art and culture for centuries.

It’s home to a vast collection of the world’s most precious art collections at museums like the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay. Many of the eminent artists in the world, Matisse, Renoir, Cézanne, and Picasso, made it their physical and inspirational sanctuary.

Perhaps that special Paris something is the anything-goes creative atmosphere – mostly in seedy low-rent neighborhoods. It attracts artists-types from around the world to its enlightened collegial environment. No wonder the city is home to some of the world’s most famous fashion houses, like Chanel, Dior, and Louis Vuitton. One of our favorite pastimes here was to watch Parisians and wannabees decked out in the latest and sometimes jaw-dropping fashions.

Shopping in Paris is a serious business–not for the faint of wallet. We, however, reserved our discretionary budget for the fashion of the culinary kind. It is a city of food, with something for every gourmand with everything from tasty street food to Michelin-starred eateries. And of course, it is the home of the baguette–the most iconic food item ever created.

It had been nearly a quarter of a century since we last visited Paris. Not that we didn’t like Paris, we just had many other exciting and exotic places to explore. But, when we were planning our grand European excursion from Ireland to Istanbul, Paris looked like a simple decision. Our action-packed week in Paris this spring reaffirmed why it is still such a popular tourist destination.

It also reminded us that it has its not-so-nice urban warts, some like most cities and others special to Paris and France specifically. strikes have been most often used as a weapon in labor disputes, In one year 79 days were lost because of strikes.

Paris, along with the rest of France, is currently seeing protests and strikes over an increase in retirement age. Rubbish previously piled up on the streets of Paris, flights have been canceled and public transport has been disrupted at times. Homelessness, petty crime, and gridlock traffic can cast shade on a visit. The Eiffel Tower and the Louvre were closed a few weeks ago amid ongoing protests.