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-   -   I'm going to get clobbered for this, but about Paris... (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/im-going-to-get-clobbered-for-this-but-about-paris-226394/)

Margie May 29th, 2002 12:33 PM

I'm going to get clobbered for this, but about Paris...
 
I’d better be careful here. I’ve read some other posts on this site and it seems like if you dis Paris you’re in trouble or accused of being a troll, so I’ll be subtle.<BR><BR>I’ve waited all my life for this trip and can honestly say I’ve probably never been so disappointed. I cannot say that we were ever treated rudely, just dispassionately. It is sad to be so excited and so eager to be somewhere and then be treated generally with a complete disinterest. It was like the waiters, the hotel staff, even the street vendors were terminally bored.<BR><BR>Some years ago we visited the Tower of London and, though hokey, the guides were animated and seemed to be having a ball. It was the same on a couple of walking tours and even in the Victoria Albert museum when I asked security where I might find this or that, he stopped what he was doing and led us to the part of the museum we were looking for. It was though they were doing their jobs, yes, but that they enjoyed it. <BR><BR>If it had been one or two days, that would have been one thing, but during our two weeks in and around Paris it was though everyone were merely going through the motions, “another day, another tourist’s Euro. Ho-hum.” <BR><BR>My spouse speaks some French (high school and college), but when it suited them certain service people pretended they didn’t understand a word. Odd, in that the day before or the day after, the same phrases got immediate and correct reactions.<BR><BR>The Metro was also a major turn-off, it stunk like a sewer, and it seemed that several times a day we would hear a commotion because someone was being or had just been ripped off. The police didn’t really seem too interested.<BR><BR>I’m sorry, as I’m sure I’ve already said too much about this, but I have to wonder about the glowing reports I read here concerning Paris. Some will no doubt think otherwise, but every morning we put on our best faces and attitudes and promised to forget the day before, only to find the same situations over again. We finally settled in to a feeling something akin to defeat.<BR><BR>It has not happened to us anywhere else, including other cities in France. Is it possible that some people are so enamoured with an image of a place that they don’t see the reality? I was really beating myself up over this till I realized that, even if we were truly terrible people, it couldn’t possibly have all been our fault.<BR><BR>Okay, blast me out of the water on this one.<BR>

DoDah Dave May 29th, 2002 12:35 PM

Somebody had a problem. May I assume you're American or Canadian?

Howard May 29th, 2002 12:44 PM

Margie, I won't blast you. Rather, I'll say that I feel very sad and sorry for you that you had such an unfortunate experience in Paris. We were far luckier during our just-completed two weeks there. We had an incredible time. Is it just the luck of the draw? Who's to say?

Windel May 29th, 2002 12:47 PM

Maybe not your fault. You probably just expected the people you met to share your enthusiasm and they didn’t. (Look up the word “ennuy&eacute;.”) If it makes you feel any better, I go to Paris occasionally on business, and I enjoy myself because I studiously avoid interacting with the Parisians because by and large they are, simply put, a drag. I have the ultimate victory over their attitude by enjoying the beauty of their city, the good food and wine, and I simply disassociate from the populace. I have French friends who feel the same way about Paris.

Sant May 29th, 2002 12:50 PM

Margie, I had a similar experience, though not quite as bad. Yes, Parisians are jaded but no more so than New Yorkers. According to my experience, the little mom-and-pop shops tend to have nice service while the big commercial, touristy stores tend to be more impersonal. They only think that I found annoying is that the restuarants and cafes DO NOT cater to kids. They don't mind if people brings dogs to a restuarant but God forbid you bring your kid there! The best meals we had were from popping into bread, pastry, and cheese shops and trying out various goodies that each had to offer.<BR><BR>But with all that said, culturally Paris is unbelievable. For art and architecture it is incomparable.

elaine May 29th, 2002 12:51 PM

No blasting necessary. Not everyone likes Paris or Venice or New York or Toronto for that matter.<BR>I happen to love Paris. I am enamored of it, but that doesn't mean I don't see reality. I see the reality<BR>(here in New York too) but the hard facts of life don't begin to outweigh<BR>the things I love about it, everything from art to architecture to food to gloomy weather to quaint streets. Yes, and even the people. You saw them as dispassionate (great word), I see them as just going about their business with the usual French sense of privacy.<BR>For every "disinterested" Parisian, I've also encountered many smiling, friendly, chatty, helpful ones, taxi drivers to strangers on the street who have helped me with directions. The metro has never been my favorite place for atmosphere (literal or figurative) which is why I do as much walking as possible. In a pinch, it gets me where I need to go, which is all I need it to do. Haven't been in Paris for 18 months, but I've never been accosted or ripped off. (Ditto Rome last fall where based on reports I was sure I was doomed to have my bag snatched.)<BR><BR>For whatever reason the place isn't your cup of tea, that's fine.

Wayne May 29th, 2002 01:04 PM

Indeed, Paris isn't what it used to be. Part of it is just the French people, but that is only a small part. A much bigger part is that Paris is being overrun with immigrants (mostly illegal, probably) who are turning the city into a warren of hooligans, petty criminals, beggars, scattered filth, and worse. The people who live and work in Paris are themselves rather fed up with the situation, which explains a bit about their sullied attitude; but it seems to continue. Just as the American immigration situation was allowed to get out of hand over the past 10 years, with all sorts of duds pouring into the country to live off welfare, get education in American schools, and generally milk the system for all they can get with no thought of anything but living off American largesse, France is now having the same problems. Had there been better immigration control, there probably would have been no terrorism in this country, and certainly no 9/11/01 attack by Islamaniacs flying American airplanes. Pardon me, but I'm bitter and I can sympathize with the French. Until we (that's the legitimate Americans and French and those of other progressive countries) do something to round up these militants and ship them off or jail them, this will never stop.

x May 29th, 2002 01:08 PM

I'll blast you, Margie, for that dumb report. No doubt you had a horrible time, wasted your money, grumbled the entire time. Lets face it - some are just not cut out for Paris. Now, lets see, do we fault Margie or Paris? That's an easy one. Margie, go sit in the corner and don't come out until you can travel to a terrific city without whining. And stay off this site - somebody might actually listen to you.

Flagg May 29th, 2002 01:11 PM

This can happen with any big city. That's where you have the biggest variety of people and classes. If you get lucky and deal with the right people, you're fine. If not, it will cloud the experience. I HATED New Orleans. People had told me how great it was but I just didn't see it. Thank God for the hurricanes at Pat O'Brien's!! But, I'm sure others would be quick to "blast" me for that opinion. But big cities have many different faces, some of them pretty ugly. On the other hand, notice how you never hear anything but praise for small Italian hilltowns and the little French villages of the Loire Valley?

Capo May 29th, 2002 01:11 PM

Re: "Is it possible that some people are so enamoured with an image of a place that they don't see the reality?"<BR><BR>Sure, I imagine that's possible. <BR><BR>It's also possible, however, that people simply experience different realities. <BR><BR>And finally, it's possible that the same people, experiencing the same realities, react to those realities in different ways.

Flagg May 29th, 2002 01:19 PM

I agree Capo. For example, while my wife and I were visiting the Colosseum, we had our picture taken with those little centurion guys running around outside. Of course, they expected to be paid handsomely. We talked them down and got out of there with only a few lira lost. We were stupid; we were in awe of the Colosseum and the experience and let our guards down. Oh well. But it really bothered my wife. She was royally pissed the whole time we were touring the Colosseum. I just let the experience roll off my back and chalked it up to naivety and a momentary lapse of reason. I could laugh at it, but my wife was in no mood to smile about it, at least for several days. So, it's all about perception of reality.

JB May 29th, 2002 01:19 PM

Margie,<BR><BR>I love Paris and would love to go there every year. We have for the most part, had very good experiences - but I agree with the poster who compared it to NYC. People in a big city are not as friendly as those in the smaller towns. Also, please keep in mind (I am assuming you are an American) that Europeans do not smile the same way Americans do. We Americans associate smiling with good manners and openness - the French do not. I think some Europeans think we are kind of simple-minded with all of our goofy smiling - but it is just a cultural difference. So maybe that is what you experienced???? Maybe the indifference you experienced was just the way they are culturally???<BR><BR>I hope you didn't base your whole trip on how you were treated - I hope you enjoyed the amazing sites, museums, foods, wine, etc...All the things that I love about Paris!<BR><BR>JB

fanofparis May 29th, 2002 01:20 PM

My Little Margie,<BR><BR>I completely understand what you are saying. I am a huge fan of Paris and when I finally got to go it was everything I had hoped for and more. I was fully prepared not be welcomed with open arms and a round of applause when I arrived and I simply refused to let them rain on my parade or ruin my hard earned vacation. I looked at it more as an interesting character study.<BR><BR>Now, just last week, a very dear friend of mine finally got to go for her first time and came back feeling exactly as you do. I completely prepared her the best that I could not to be surprised or put off by their behavior - it's just the way they are. And, believe me, they don't care how you feel about it either. I warned her all I could and she still came home so disappointed. Whereas I just ignored it, it was a major distraction for her. I was shocked at her reaction.<BR>Even when you're being just the best damn American you can be doesn't mean they are suddenly going to change and warm up to you.<BR><BR>I was so sure that being prepared would eliminate the problem. I finally decided that it all depends on your personality and how it falls on you. All tourists to Paris fall into two catagories - those who let the Parisiens' behavior ruin their vacation and those who don't. They are passionate about many things - just not tourists. And you being extra nice to them isn't going to change that.

judy ede May 29th, 2002 01:21 PM

i went to paris for the first time in 2000. I had no expectations except to enjoy my french hosts and have fun.<BR>I'm going again in august and can hardly<BR>wait. I frankly can't figure out what your talking about.

Dan May 29th, 2002 01:30 PM

You know how when you go to Disneyland and Mickey mouse clasps his hands, pinches your cheeks, and does a little skip in the air. For whatever reason, Americans expect that treatment from young hardworking tired Parisian waiters. Some of us tend to see Europe as a great big theme park.<BR><BR>

xxx May 29th, 2002 01:37 PM

Sorry you feel rained-on, Margie. Fortunately, there's a big world out there and you can try somewhere else next time.<BR><BR>Maybe you planned and dreamed too long? Sometimes nothing can live up to the build-up.<BR><BR>Maybe you guys are just type A. My husband absolutely ruined my trip to Paris. He whined and moaned the whole time, refering to Paris constantly as "this dump". I can't even remember the specific complaints they were so petty...it's only been two weeks. I think the biggest ones were "I'm hot" and "I didn't get enough sleep on the plane". Once he said " I hate having to rely on you for this stuff" and that's when I realized what the problem was. Only I had studied the map and the guidebook, only I spoke any French, only I was handling the whole currency translation thing. He was NOT IN CONTROL and it was killing him. <BR><BR>Now that we're home I hear him on the phone with friend and family talking about everything we saw and did and what a remarkable city it was. He said " I'd go back tomorrow " <BR><BR>Well, not with me he won't...but my point is, maybe after a while the memories will become sweeter.<BR><BR>

xxx May 29th, 2002 01:42 PM

Only a fool would walk into an American Legion meeting and declare that he thought war was stupid and soldiers were a bunch of jackasses.<BR>Only an idiot would go to a weight watcher's meeting and rave than all fat people deserve to be so.<BR>Only a fool would enter a travel website and procede to run down Paris --as you said, "I'm going to get clobbered for this. . ." <BR>So what was the real reason for posting?

xxx May 29th, 2002 01:42 PM

Only a fool would walk into an American Legion meeting and declare that he thought war was stupid and soldiers were a bunch of jackasses.<BR>Only an idiot would go to a weight watcher's meeting and rave that all fat people deserve to be so.<BR>Only a fool would enter a travel website and procede to run down Paris --as you said, "I'm going to get clobbered for this. . ." <BR>So what was the real reason for posting?

Rita May 29th, 2002 01:45 PM

Hi Margie<BR>Sorry you had a less-than-exhilirating time in Paris. My family (2 adults & 2 kids ages 10 & 7) are leaving for Paris next Thursday (I still can't believe it's next week already!). Based on all that I have read on this post during the past 3 months, I'm prepared for the worst. I keep trying to tell myself that we'll have a wonderful time and we'll just adore Paris, but I'm almost resigned to the fact that we'll probably have more fun at Disneyland. I'm not looking forward to disinterested waiters, non-smiling passers-by, being ripped off in the metro, sidestepping dog poop and blowing smoke away from my face all day. Maybe it is a big-city thing, but I've been to New York 10 times and have never encountered anything like what I've been reading people encounter in Paris. I've already resigned myself to nothing but quick meals since my kids aren't going to want to sit in a smoke-filled restaurant for a leisurely 3 hour meal every day (for that matter, neither will I)! I hope Paris proves me wrong, but I'm not expecting it.

carmenr May 29th, 2002 01:58 PM

I know where Margie is coming from. When I lived in Paris as a student many years ago, I loved the city but could not stand the natives. Last month I returned and was very guarded about what I would find. I am known as a very negative person so I did not expect much of a change. I was knocked on my keister by the change I encountered at every turn. I certainly did not have on rose-colored glasses but I fell in love with Paris.


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