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panahs Feb 14th, 2001 11:36 AM

American obsession!
 
I have realized that this forum is mostly used by americans... <BR> <BR>So I believe you can explain me why americans are so obsessed with Paris! As if all americans are oblidged to visit Paris at least once in their lives, like the moslems who go to Mekka! <BR> <BR>Is it Hollywood that promotes Paris so much in its movies (french kiss, frantic, armaghedon, an american in Paris, etc)? Is it something else? I cannot explain it! <BR> <BR>Europe has so many cities equal in beauty and elegance like Prague, Budapest, Lisbon and so on that deserve to be widly appreciated. <BR> <BR>

hamlet Feb 14th, 2001 11:42 AM

I'm sure that I will one day be obsessed with Prague, Budapest and Lisbon, it's just that, unlike Paris, I have not yet visited those cities!

Ess Feb 14th, 2001 11:48 AM

It's true that there are many other beautful cities in Europe, and if you read the postings here you'll see that Americans travel to those cities as well. But I think Paris is mythic and magical to the American imagination - like Oz (as in Wizard of). Maybe it IS from the movies, who knows. And maybe it is also a karmic thing. (Ouch! I'm anticipating a nasty remark on that one!)

Uknowme Feb 14th, 2001 12:08 PM

Paris is incredibly overrated in many ways, and obsession is the correct word to describe the feelings of many on this board about the place.

Heather Feb 14th, 2001 12:15 PM

By "Americans", you may be implying ALL Americans are obsessed with Paris, which just is not the case. In fact, a large number of Americans are completely turned off by France/French and would never set a toe in the country let alone Paris. But, on this Forum and perhaps in Hollywood, the pro-Paris contingencies may just be a bit more outspoken than pro-Budapest or pro-Lisbon crowds. All are wonderful, historic, beautiful cities for different reasons. As more Americans travel to Europe, more of us (speaking for the non-veteran travelers) are becoming better educated about less popularized (less cinematized?) cities like Prague, Krakow, Ljubljana, etc. Even Hollywood is shifting film locales to these areas. Prague and Budapest are booming film locations for the US film industry. <BR> <BR>I saved Paris and France for my fifth trip to Europe because I had placed Italy, Austria, Ireland, England, and other areas higher on my priority list. After last year's trip to Paris, I fell in love with the city--it surpassed all of my expectations. But, I always keep an open mind and form my own opinions based on my own experiences (not Hollywood fantasies). So, please try to keep an open mind toward US citizens as we learn more about the endless variety of places that we have the fortune to visit (or dream about visiting).

Patrick Feb 14th, 2001 12:15 PM

I have been to all the cities you name and many more and have enjoyed them all. But I simply cannot go to Europe without a stop in London and a stop in Paris, each time trying to milk those stops for more and more time. I never grow tired of either one. And the only two cities in Europe that I anxiously await the opportunity to spend a full month in are London and Paris. Have been to Prague and Budapest a couple of times, but Lisbon only once, which was enough. Sure I could go back to many other cities, but Paris just seems to call me. Is it the food, the ambiance, the architecture, the tree lines streets, the friendliness of the people (yes the ones I have greeted with a smile have all been very friendly)? Now let me ask a question. Why is it that the British have such an obsession AGAINST Paris? Nearly every Brit I talk with says, "what's so great about Paris?"

xxx Feb 14th, 2001 12:25 PM

I am obsessed with Paris and always have been since I was a child. We honeymooned there and fell in love it and try to return every few years at least. I'm not sure WHY I was always drawn to, but I think I was always shown a negative connotation of it (rude people, dirty city, etc.) - but the people have always been friendly. I don't think I'll ever tire of going there b/c every time I do, I discover something different. It's also a lot easier to get to than my favorite other cities which are in Asia.

Angela Feb 14th, 2001 12:32 PM

My question is: Why are Americans obssessed with London? I was born in London, but lived in New York for the past 3 years. New York is a much more exciting and cosmopolitan city. I only left to go back to London because my H-1 visa ran out. Hoping to go back in the near future and get away from these boring British men.

nancy Feb 14th, 2001 12:34 PM

Panahs, <BR>You could easily have said this about an Italian city , I think.Lots of posts on Italy. <BR>I , for one, have no desire to see Paris. <BR>Don't know why, it is just way down on my list of cities, and even France is pretty far down on my list of countries to go to. <BR>This is just another generalization.

Pierrette Feb 14th, 2001 12:43 PM

I try to visit a European country every year and there is not one that I would not love to return to. I had avoided Paris for the last 25 years but did go last summer after becoming convinced by Fodorites that maybe I was missing out. There are many very close seconds but it is now my favourite city and I can't wait to go back.

mark Feb 14th, 2001 01:01 PM

Be it Paris or a South Seas island or the 1950's - I think a lot of Americans are very nostalgic about certain places based soley upon Hollywood / movies / tv / magazines. Being an art director I know that the image lies - we see extremely "polished" versions of places. I'm always amazed when I see pictures of New York looking so clean. Trust me - it's not. Street life is not what it was even 10 years ago - yet New York is a major tourist hot spot. Why? Could it be because of "Friends" and "NYPD Blues"? Could be a case of "the grass is always greener elsewhere"?

cowtipper Feb 14th, 2001 01:04 PM

Part of the reason that Paris is discussed so frequently in this forum is that questions asked about Paris get lots of responses, and thereby keep jumping back to the top of the list. Questions about lesser-known, but equally fascinating cities (such as those you mention) often get no replies, and drop from the 'first fifty' within a couple of hours, never to be seen again...

Capo Feb 14th, 2001 01:10 PM

While I've yet to visit Prague, Budapest, and Lisbon (as well as Madrid, Rome, Vienna, and Berlin), I have been to London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Munich, Salzburg, Amsterdam, Nice, Barcelona, Florence, and Venice. With the exception of Venice -- which is so unique as to be incomparable -- I have not found any of those other cities to be as beautiful or elegant as Paris (although, with its boulevards and plane trees, Barcelona reminded me a little bit of Paris.)

rusty nail Feb 14th, 2001 01:19 PM

It is built on an enchanted piece of the earth, and if you are sensitive to the vibrations and whispers of 2000 years of habitation, it calls to you and you cannot resist it. The light IS different, and you can feel the energy of the city, even when the streets are deserted.

Shanna Feb 14th, 2001 01:20 PM

Having spent a considerable amount of time thinking about this and asking myself why I'm drooling and stammering like a dope when I think of my upcoming Paris visit, I can only conclude that the United States is English in form but French in spirit - independent, proud, conceited, demanding, irritating, perfectionists. (I am perfectly aware that this understanding leaves out decendants of those who immigrated here after the revolution - and others - who may not feel this way, so please don't bother taking me to task on this. This is what I think; you won't change my mind.) Heading home now after a crummy day for a glass of wine and a little Foucault.

Joe Feb 14th, 2001 01:30 PM

America's fascination with Paris long predates Hollywood. Jefferson, struck by America's largest city, said that Philadelphia is more beautiful than London but less beutiful than Paris. And Oscar Wilde said that good Americans, when they die, go to Paris (and bad Americans go to America). There are, as you say, many beautiful European cities, but to me none matches Paris in its combination of grandeur and homely charm.

elvira Feb 14th, 2001 02:11 PM

I'm not sure it's an obsession, more like a preference. I like Pepsi better than other colas, but I wouldn't call it an obsession. It doesn't mean I don't like the other colas, I just prefer Pepsi. Same with Paris - I love London, and Venice, and Rome, and Barcelona, but Paris is my preference. It's like putting on my favorite black dressy dress - it makes me feel grown-up, I act differently when I'm in it, and I've never looked at it, thinking "oh that old thing". <BR>Maybe it's a self-fulfilling prophecy: it's a mecca for artists and writers and philosophers, so they go, and it becomes even more of a mecca for those that come after. It is a fashion capital, so more designers and couturiers go there, and it becomes even more fashionable. <BR>And France is inextricably linked to America through our history: the French and Indian Wars, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Louisiana Purchase, both World Wars, Vietnam, and even the Civil War. The treaty that ended the American Revolution and in which Great Britain recognized the independence of the United States was signed in Paris; John Paul Jones died in Paris and was buried there for many years; the American Legion was founded in Paris. Visit Lafayette's grave to see how we feel about him. <BR>As for Hollywood influencing us, I think Gertrude Stein and Hemingway might beg to differ.

Capo Feb 14th, 2001 02:30 PM

Shanna ~ Re: "I can only conclude that the United States is English in form but French in spirit - independent, proud, conceited, demanding, irritating, perfectionists." <BR> <BR>Interesting thought, that the U.S. is "French in spirit." If so, maybe that accounts for some of the American dislike of France, like looking in a mirror and not liking your reflection.

Pat Feb 14th, 2001 08:21 PM

Yeah, I guess I am obsessed with Paris. It was the home of so much of what I value...food, language, art, faith, music. Same for England and Ireland. <BR> <BR>I've been obsessed with Japan for years. It was not on my cultural radar at all, which is why I wanted to see it so much. <BR> <BR>I'm also obsessed with Mexico, Nova Scotia, Vancouver, New York City, Buffalo, and Peoria, illinois. <BR> <BR>I like to travel and meet the people in the places I visit. I like to see how they arrange their museums and parks and grocery stores. I like to wash my clothes with them. I like to talk to them over breakfast, if they speak English. If they don't I like to smile. <BR> <BR>I like seeing new people and places. I guess that's it in a nutshell.

x Feb 15th, 2001 03:11 AM

BTW, it's MeCCa, not MeKKa

Inky Feb 15th, 2001 03:34 AM

Firstly panahs, I would argue about this forum being used mostly by Americans. What nonsense. <BR> <BR>Secondly, Americans love France and Paris especially for a number of reasons: <BR> <BR>An American's idealistic view of Europe is exactly what paris represents, those old buildings, funny language and customs, the french being their usual individualistic selfs etc. It's also one of the easiest European cities to get to from North America and many Americans dont like to travel much in Europe once they are there. <BR> <BR>France IS Europe to many Americans.

Dave Feb 15th, 2001 03:44 AM

I agree with Elvira's historical connections. I also think there is an even more recent historical context as well. <BR> <BR>For much of the past century, the only way for most oridnary Americans to get to Europe was on a boat chartered by their Uncle Sam. I think those Doughboys from WWI and GI's from WWII may have had something to do with the place Paris has in modern American culture. <BR> <BR>After all, if the two best things that can happen to you are 1) staying alive and 2) a weekend pass in Paris, I'm sure both of those will be stuck pretty firmly in your consciousness. <BR> <BR>Dave <BR> <BR>PS: I'm not obsessed with Paris. I visited for 3 days about 7 years ago and have no overwhelming urge to go back. Now Edinburgh ...

Gina Feb 15th, 2001 03:53 AM

I think that Continental and Air France are to blame. How can we resist $240 Rt direct flight from Newark? It happened in March 2000. We are going back this May and hope to go back any time we find a special fares. We visited also Prague and Lisbon and yes, they do have a charm but Paris is a magical place with all museums, cafes, small but with great food restaurants and the metro system easy to use even. And in those days it is an inexpensive destination. This is just my opinion.

We're Feb 15th, 2001 04:53 AM

why are so many Europeans obsessed with LA Florida and Southern California?

xxx Feb 15th, 2001 05:42 AM

Did anybody tell Mitterand before he died that the Americans and the French were spiritual cousins? Not lost for a pithy word or two, old Francois, I bet. <BR> <BR>Did Jefferson stroll down anything VAGUELY resembling Boulevard Haussmann. The place is less than 200 years old! Annapolis is better preserved! OK, OK, Ile de la Cite - but, well, it's hardly Venice, is it? <BR> <BR>Paris a member of the Pompous Ass club? Nooo. Surely not. It isn't, is it? <BR> <BR>Me? There's no limitation on terms for President, I believe.

Mary Ann Feb 15th, 2001 06:06 AM

Dear panahs <BR>I have been to Prague and Budapest, and while I truly enjoyed those visits, I have been to Paris 3 times and will, like others have stated, probably not visit Europe without a stop in Paris. <BR> <BR>I agree it is probably because of the following: <BR>1 As Elvira mentioned History, Arts, etc. <BR>2 As someone else mentioned ease of traveling to/from <BR>3 Also as you mention, the publicity in pictures. <BR>4. I would add the diversity of the city from the museums to the chateaux, to the eifel tower, Arc, Cathedrals - Notre Dame, to its streets - such as the Champs Elyesee, to cruising down the Seine, to picnics in the park and the fun of shopping in the pedestrian markets. Yes you find alot of these in other cities but not as much in one location and as magnificent as in Paris. <BR> <BR>All of these combine to sum it up because it is in France. You have the Alps, the Riviera, the D Day Beaches, the Wine Country, Champagne, Monet et al, there is so much to see and enjoy within one country and of course, to fly back to the states, the easy exit is Paris. <BR> <BR>We actually shortened our first trip to Paris due to the "temperment reputation". We found that not to be true. What they do is force you to be more worldly, to make the effort with their language and life styles which really makes the trip feel like an adventure! <BR>

Marsha Feb 15th, 2001 07:10 AM

No, I'm not obsessed with Paris because of movies, falling in love there or anything like that. I love Paris because there is something different, something new, and something exciting around every corner. Americans cities and towns are all the same - McDonald's, Burger Kings, strip malls etc. I also enjoy the less materialistic nature of the Europeans - they value a few beautiful things, while many Americans believe that bigger and more is better. And, for the same reasons, I love other European cities, too, not just Paris.

Caitlin Feb 15th, 2001 09:02 AM

Marsha, I hope that next time you're traveling around the US you'll take those blinders off--the ones that allow you to see only the fast food joints and the strip malls. Sure, they exist, but anyone who thinks that that's all there is and that all American cities and towns look the same has either never travelled outside suburbia, never gotten more than a mile or two off the interstate, or has had her eyes closed when she's visited any major American cities. Nothing wrong with going to Europe to find new and beautiful sights, but they do exist in your own country as well.

Caitlin Feb 15th, 2001 09:04 AM

Marsha, I hope that next time you're traveling around the US you'll take those blinders off--the ones that allow you to see only the fast food joints and the strip malls. Sure, they exist, but anyone who thinks that that's all there is and that all American cities and towns look the same has either never travelled outside suburbia, never gotten more than a mile or two off the interstate, or has had her eyes closed when she's visited any major American cities. Nothing wrong with going to Europe to find new and beautiful sights, but they do exist in your own country as well.

joern Feb 15th, 2001 10:09 AM

Catlin - <BR>It's unfortunate that cheap shoddy "architecture " is allowed to be built in America - this dismal junk is diminishing every day life. Americans wonder why they lead such unfullfilled lives? You don't need 10 pairs of chinos - chain restaurant are dehumanizing - having to drive everywhere is numbing. Less advertising. Less strip malls. Less gated communities. Working for the almighty dollar is not living.

Les Feb 15th, 2001 10:34 AM

Joern, <BR>Sorry to intrude on your bitter outlook, but Caitlin is right! <BR>The US is a magnificent country, and all of its major cities have a unique flavor. <BR>All of it's geographical areas also have their own flavor (and I don't mean fast food). Try a leisurely trip cross the country, stopping to savor both the large cities and small towns. You'll (well, maybe not YOU) never tire of the interesting people you'll meet ,places you'll see, and cultures you'll experience. <BR>I lived and worked in Europe (southern Germany) for 5 years, and no matter what preconceptions the Europeans had about the US, they were all eager to visit, and more eager yet to return.

Troy Feb 15th, 2001 10:41 AM

I think the media fuels the desire to see Paris to "see what all the fuss is about". Movies equate it w/ love and romance, etc. therefore sight unseen it is a place that is reputed to be a "must see". You'll notice on this board, however, some disdain put forth about the French attitude, courtesy, etc. There are many tourists who return with negative reports on Paris-including crime and remarks on its lack of cleanliness. You're right though that other parts of Europe ala Spain, Austria et. al. should merit some attn.

John Feb 15th, 2001 10:57 AM

How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm, after they've seen....Wichita? <BR> <BR>There do seem to be a number of cities which constitute stereotypes for folks from different countries. I think many Americans do tend to see Paris as a symbol of romance or culture, no doubt enforced to some degree by literary and Hollywood images, but the French have their preferences, too, like New Orleans or Rio, or the British San Francisco or various places in Florida, or the Italians Sweden or the Germans Scotland (have I left out any bonehead stereotypes or failed to insult anyone?) <BR>It's an interesting phenomenon. Why not celebrate it? I'd certainly attend a performance of "An American in Prague" if the music was by Gershwin.

dan woodlief Feb 15th, 2001 10:58 AM

Paris has a lot of big things in it that can't help but attract attention: The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre-Dame, the Arc de Triomphe. Not to mention, a big reputation for food and art. I do think movies play a part for some, but I also had the same thoughts about the un-movie-based relationships of Jefferson and Hemingway to Paris. For me, it was my love of history that drew me above all to Paris. Can you name anywhere that has seen more world-famous historical events in the past 500 years? So, Paris has done a lot to attract attention to itself: art, food, architecture, a couple of world wars (not to say they were the fault of the French), and a few revolutions sprinkled in. What it comes down to is this: the ideal of Paris does not exist really (even much of the food isn't all that good), but the reality is pretty damned good.

Joern Feb 15th, 2001 11:06 AM

Les - <BR>I spoke about architecture - not the country (landscape) - which America very much rivals Europe in - one need only go to Wyoming, Northern California, the Everglades to see the rich North American landscape. Also - Amercia is only a little more than 200 years old - compared to Europe which has thousands of years of history and architecture. Zoning and building regulations favor the proliferation of strip malls and the continued spreading out of suburban / urban sprawl - it amazes me that Americans can't understand that spreading out developments means being stuck more in traffic. As for American cities - there really is only one true American city - NYC. Engineers build cheap "wedding cake buildings" because it's cheap, fast and doesn't take much thought. And if you're comparing European cities to Amercian - EUROPEAN CITIES WIN HANDS DOWN. Europe believes in preservation and well designed public spaces for all - rich, poor, black, white, unlike in America when anything is available for the right amount of money.

Patrick Feb 15th, 2001 11:10 AM

While I love Europe, I am always amazed at how many people look at their own country (specifically the US) with blinders. If you look in any city of the world, including Paris, Rome, or even Vienna I defy you not to find a lot of the same "cheap, shoddy architecture" mixing in with the wonderful old stuff that was complained about above. And where in the world do people feel that the "strip malls" and chain restaurants and stores aren't taking over. Every time I'm in the 6th of Paris I see a few more of my favorites gone and some well known chain store in its place. That is not strictly a US problem. I run into a lot of Americans who run off to Europe every chance they get, but have never stayed home to explore the wonders of the US. I will miss Europe this summer, but I feel it's time to re-explore some of my own country, as well as finally see Alaska. How can I rave about the fjords of Norway without having also seen the fjords of Alaska? And is it fair to say the Alps are the most spectacular mountains in the world if one has not seen Denali? <BR>(And to beat the dissenters to the punch, if these comments make me a member of the Pompous Ass club, then I guess I'm proud to be an American Pompous Ass.)

Madeline Feb 15th, 2001 11:14 AM

We need to remind our fellow Americans and fellow travelers from all over the world (which is getting smaller and smaller) that we Americans are all from "somewhere else." Even if you came over on the Mayflower, that's not so long ago compared to the history of Europe, Asia, etc. In any "getting to know you" conversation, we somehow always get down to where our relatives lived before making the decision to come to America. We value our traditions, fading as they are, from the many countries that have made up America's melting pot. And most of us, not all, want to know more about not only our own beginnings and traditions, but those of our neighbors who may be from the same country as our ancestors, or from a country 3000 miles away. So it's not that we're hung up on Paris only; it's all of it.

Steve Mueller Feb 15th, 2001 11:44 AM

The question posed at the top of this thread could be reversed. Why are so many non-Americans obsessed with the US? <BR> <BR>According to a recent CNN report, the most popular tourist destination worldwide was France, followed closely by the US. Considering that France is easily accessible by the 400 million members of the European Union, and that only Canadians have relatively easy access to the US (the southern US border is not nearly as open), it is obvious that many people are expending a considerable amount of effort to visit the US. Perhaps some people like a McDonalds on every street corner.

panahs Feb 15th, 2001 12:30 PM

Thank you all for your replies! <BR>You have satisfied my question, but morover you have created this strong wish to go and visit Paris in the near future. It must be a magical place! <BR> <BR>The word obsession which I used, perhaps is not the suitable (my engish vocabulary is limited). But my impression still remains and it is stronger now. Paris for the Americans is something more than a travel destination. You spoke about cultural and historical connections, about the european lifestyle which is best expressed in France (I have objections in that...) and fascinates the American people, about the french language, the french cuizine etc. This is not bad at all! I just believe and now I am sure that Paris is too much promoted in the American society. Just the previous week there was an american film on TV (not a quality film to tell you the truth) about a teenager who became a wolfman and started killing people. You can imagine the setting; Paris of course! <BR>Besides this thread says it all! Before creating this topic I had made another one asking advise about Istanbul. I had only 2 replies. <BR>Istanbul has no tree-lined streets, it is a dirty city in general, highly polluted but if I am a traveller (not a tourist) I can easily judge Istanbul as a prettier and much more interesting city compared to Paris (by the way I am not from Turkey, I am from Greece). <BR> <BR>In my opinion Paris is overrated in the US. <BR> <BR>PS. I found this site only recently and I believe it is great!! It is very beautiful to share travel thoughts and experiences with the others!

Patrick Feb 15th, 2001 12:45 PM

Panahs, you have made one huge mistake in your last post. You say your English vocabulary is lacking. You are far more articulate than most of us can ever hope to be in our own language, yet alone in a second language! Welcome to this website, but I warn you, it may become addictive -- I'm thinking of checking myself into a rehab center to cure my habit.


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