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I'm going to get clobbered for this, but about Paris...

I'm going to get clobbered for this, but about Paris...

Old May 29th, 2002, 02:24 PM
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Paris has a magnetism for wannabes unlike any place in the world. The majority of those wannabes reside right here on this web site. Ever see goofy kids in high school who did anything to be accepted by someone they thought was cool. Well, here is where a lot of them end up, still searching for the cool kids, only their school yard has enlarged into the world and the spoiled arrogant little rich kids they deemed so superior....now live in Paris...the Parisites. You are indeed a brave soul telling these neurotic wannabes that their star city and it's people basically suck....but I happen to think you're right. Good report Margie.
Old May 29th, 2002, 02:54 PM
Bob Brown
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I think any discussion like this on the subject of Paris soon separates the group on a bipolar basis. There are
those who irrationally dislike Paris, and those who love it unconditionally. Rarely have I read what I considered an unbiased, realistic balanced view. Extremism in either direction is not fully accurate, but it is characteristic of people who visit Paris. Rarely does the city leave one feeling neutral.

I don't think Paris needs defending; it offers a culture found nowhere else.
It seems almost unfair that so many great museums and sophisticated establishment(by Western standards)
should be concentrated in one city.
There is good food to be found, and excellent baked products. The musical venues in Paris are world class; many of the best singers in the world appear at the Opera Bastille.

On the other hand, Paris does not need attacking, either, despite the fact that Paris does have its numerous drawbacks and negative aspects. The Metro does smell. I noticed that the first time I went in it. Also, it is one of the least user friendly subway systems in Western Europe in my experience. I avoid it when I can and use the bus.

The waiters can be somewhat distant, but they do their job, and bring the food. I don't mind that they often don't give me cheery conversation.
At least they don't "churn the table" and harrangue you with a long list of daily specials.

Bois de Boulogne's evening culture, and its fallout, never struck me as culturally sophisticated; I find it more sick than repulsive or wicked. On the other hand, it is not my city, nor was I asked to judge it. Perhaps I lack an appreciation for the socially redeeming attributes that protitutes and transvestites bring to society.

Some people you meet are aloof, even curt; others are quite helpful. That type of behavior is common in most places. Perhaps I strike them as a poorly educated American.

The smoke in some restaurants is a problem for non smokers. But there are no smoking possibilities.

It seems to me that there are more beggars, scammers, etc. in Paris than elsewhere, except Rome. Although I will admit I "got took" more in London. Perhaps because I let my guard down -- common language and all that.
(Discussion limited to Europe west of Hungary.) But in Paris the pickpockets and scammers seem to be at times hard to avoid, and they have a way of accosting you when you least expect it, like when you are getting out of a taxi and trying to get into Gare de Lyon.

Charles de Gaulle Airport is my least favorite of all the airports I have been in to date. What a confused and confusing layout. And I have no trouble with Hartsfield in Atlanta, but perhaps that is because I know my way around there after several dozen ins and outs.

I am not an abject Francophile who thinks Paris can do no wrong despite its liabilities. I hated Paris my first trip there. The second trip years later caused me to change my mind perhaps 50% worth. The third trip made a slight improvement in my perceptions, mainly because we stayed at a better hotel. I think the third visit left me feeling better about the place, but it did not take away all of my Francophobe reactions to some aspects of Parisian culture.

My fourth trip will be be experienced in a few weeks. I will be checking my reaction and see which way my Parisometer goes -- negative or positive.

I think the bottom line is this:
Paris has its share of liabilities. If you go there, identify them, and defend against them. Paris also has its assets. Find them, and enjoy them.
Old May 29th, 2002, 02:57 PM
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I love Paris, I love France, I love the French language, the literature, just about anything French. That doesn't mean that everybody will feel that way, it doesn't make it right or wrong to feel that way.

Why on earth shouldn't Margie or anyone else post a trip report talking about the things she didn't like? It's really important that the people who don't like something let us all know about it, that kind of information is much more informative than constant praise.

Not everyone is going to like Paris. Maybe Margie's post will speak very clearly to someone who has similar tastes and expectations.

I don't really care whether the waiters and hotel staff are interested in me or not. I actually feel sort of like an anthropologist when I'm traveling, learning about the way people act in different places. If the Parisian temperament is more dispassionate than the American one, so be it. That said, however, I had several enjoyable conversations with people in Paris, mostly in shops, and I found many people very friendly. Not everyone, of course, but those who were friendly were the ones I noticed the most. It helps that I speak French, I'm sure.
Old May 29th, 2002, 03:03 PM
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I agree with everybody that's posted here who wasn't mean. Hubby just paid $2000.00 for to round-trip tickets for him and me to go to Paris, and I'm sure our weekend their is going to be way to long! I parleyvoo francie perfectly well - I got a B+ after all! - but I just know people are going to turn up their noses rudely and pretend they don't come prendyvoo. They will ignore us rudely and roll their eyes and make us wait fifteen minutes to get a hamburger (witch is rude plus also bad service to me the customer when my torist dollars are paying for them to be there in the first place!) Or else they'll try to starve us to death by bringing really small porshins of food. (My girlfiend went last year and she said no one would bring her a whole cup of coffee!!)

Well, you are all very brave, because there is no way I would take that stinky Metro were people proberly smoke and eat snails and are rude! We are renting the biggest car we can get, and even that is tiny! Not that it matters since there's almost no drive threws - plus everything is closed all the time anyways and I here where you can't go shopping because everything is to small and French people haven't invented practical things like wash-and-where separates yet. No wonder these people are miserable and jealous of us and our freedoms! (Although that's still no excuse to be rude.)

So, OK, I'm going to hate Paris and France and Europe, I just know it! But look at the bright side - at least I'll be happier than ever to be safely home in this great nation of ours where we love demochrissy and know how to make a good big cup of decaff in a sturdy styrofoam cup!! And plus, I'll come back here and post all about my trip in detail, too!

A revoir et a domain, from Traci
Old May 29th, 2002, 03:54 PM
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Rita -

I've seen a number of posts from you recently about your upcoming trip, and all of them indicate that you're not looking forward to it and that you've "resigned yourself" to not enjoying yourself in Paris - based on what you've read on this board. The ironic thing is, along with the negative things you've read, this board is FULL of threads with detailed information and absolute praise of Paris. While it's not my favorite city in Europe, it does have a lot to offer. I can't imagine why you are so focused on the things that you think you will not like BEFORE even going. If you go and you hate it - fair enough. But why all the negativity before even boarding the plane?
Old May 29th, 2002, 03:55 PM
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If it's any comfort, Margie, I have been told by a French friend that most French people would agree with you. To the Parisiens, apparently, there is Paris, and then as for the rest of the country, well, it's just......the rest of the country, hardly worth mentioning! This attitude, needless to say, doesn't go down well with the non-Parisien French.

I love Nikki's idea of being an amateur anthropologist when traveling, come to think of it, I sort of feel that way myself. And evidently the non-Parisien French person also feels they are visiting another planet, almost, when going to Paris, as far as the people are concerned.

But hey, it's an interesting and beautiful planet, you gotta admit.
Old May 29th, 2002, 03:58 PM
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Hey Flagg, I absolutely LOVE my picture of me with those Gladiator hunks! I'm so glad I paid the 5000 lire for it! In fact, it's the screensaver for my computer at work and people ask about it all the time. I was thinking about using it for my label when I bottle my own wine.
Old May 29th, 2002, 04:17 PM
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Margie: Even though I am an unabashed Paris lover, I appreciate your viewpoint. I've been to Vienna a few times and been thoroughly disappointed each time, though I understand its historical relevance and appreciated the architecture and the music and so on. "Bunch of paunchy, persnickety old farts dressed up in dolls' clothes, and spare me the Sacher Torte" was, I believe, the last comment I made to my husband as we left that revered city.

It's also true that French people outside Paris have the same impression of Parisians. My neighbors in the Dordogne sneer at the Parisian tourists who wander by, calling them uppity and pretentious. They'd much rather deal with the American and Dutch and British tourists than the Parisians, who they think belittle their agrarian roots. It's a classic rural versus urban conflict.

That said, Paris is one amazing city, and if you can't appreciate the Parisians, I would hope you could at least appreciate Paris. What a wealth of history, art, culture, and innovation!Forget the waiters and shopkeepers and just look around!

As for Rita, my feeling is she has already scripted her doomed trip to Paris. Margie's post just clinched the deal (not that Margie meant to).

I hope, Margie, that you will return to France, perhaps skipping Paris and relaxing in the countryside, where I think you will find a completely different France.

Old May 29th, 2002, 04:30 PM
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Thanks, Flagg. That was an excellent example of the final possibility I mentioned, people perceiving the same realities in different ways.

Margie, you're certainly entitled to dislike Paris and express that dislike in this forum. I'm not so sure, however, that people who love Paris (and I'm one) simply can't abide others who don't like it, as you seem to imply. Instead, I think what gets people who love Paris is an attitude I've seen here on numerous I-don't-like-Paris posts, that attitude being along the lines of: If *I* didn't like it, then I -- in your words -- "have to wonder about the glowing reports I read here concerning Paris."

Why do you have to wonder about people posting glowing reports about their experiences in Paris just because *you* didn't have great experiences? (And, by the way, I'm sorry that you didn't.) Can you not understand that your experiences are not necessarily representative of the thousands upon thousands of people who visit Paris every year, that the "glowing reports" can be just as real as your report?

Quite frankly, I wish MORE people would dislike Paris and choose to not go there. That would leave more room for the rest of us who love it.
Old May 29th, 2002, 05:10 PM
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Tu as raison, Capo. Bonne idee.
Old May 29th, 2002, 05:37 PM
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Yes ,Capo has the right idea.All those who hate Paris , please don't go there.
All those who love it, line up behind me

I find Italians to be very very friendly and although the English are supposed to be so "reserved",I find them extremeley friendly and welcoming.So,just forget Paris and start planning your next trip where people are known to be really really happy to see tourists!
Old May 29th, 2002, 05:55 PM
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You are the biggest wannabe on this entire board.
Old May 29th, 2002, 05:59 PM
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Mea culpa! I wannabe back in Italy right now!
Old May 29th, 2002, 06:08 PM
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No,I wannabee Capo!!______________________

" I have to wonder about the glowing reports I read here "

I, have to wonder about someone posting such a remark.Because you had a bad time,for whatever reason, you think that this somehow makes other people wrong in some way?
How about if everybody likes Paris and you don't, then you must have a problem of some sort.
It sounds like you went expecting some kind of great welcome and that everyone should be happy to see you!
Why the concern over how the waiters felt about you? bored or not,did they serve you the food? That is what they are for,not to jump up and be happy because Margie was there!
Wherever you go,there will be something that does not meet your expectations, that is YOUR problem,not that of the country or the people .
Next trip,try to enjoy the city/country/place,rather than how excited the waiters are about serving you.
Old May 29th, 2002, 06:14 PM
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Dear Katie, et.al
Thank you all for listening to my apprehensions! I promise to view things with an open mind. I've been practicing French in my car (CDs called "Rush Hour French" by Berlitz) so that I know the key phrases and I've decided I will enjoy whatever comes my way! My kids are excited & my husband is looking forward to Disneyland - (I can hear people cringing now!), so I know we will all have fun! Sorry I sound so negative. I'm a natural-born worrier, especially in unfamiliar surroundings when I am the one in my family solely responsible for planning this entire trip. This means if my family is miserable, it's all MY fault since I did the planning, made the reservations, did the reading, etc. Big burden there! My husband of 25 years (we are celebrating our anniversary while in France) says it's up to me to learn the French because HE knows enough German to get us by in Germany, so he has made no effort to learn any French. This means even more pressure on me! My 7-year old son has learned "si'l vous plait" and "Parlez vous anglais?" - he says them so sweetly that hopefully he can melt the grouchiest French waiter! So to everyone, thanks again for the help and the inspiration and the good thoughts! I'll let you all know how we do once we get back on June 25th!!
Old May 29th, 2002, 06:19 PM
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Margie: I feel bad it wasn't what you expected. And I truly don't know if it's a matter of whom you ran into, or what your "reality" was, etc.

Your email seemed very well written and mature, so please don't think I'm throwing stones in your direction. I do remember a book I read on birthing (yes, now there's a seque!) where they talked about expectation and its relevance to level of satisfaction when rating mothers' birth experiences. The book said, quite frankly, that when our parents went through childbirth, a baby at the end of it was all that was expected. Now we expect it to be the experience of a lifetime with everyone behaving on cue...and we're inevitably disappointed. I think that perhaps that's what too many of the postings create for first-time visitors to Paris.

I remember discussing Paris with a good friend who just came back from her first trip. She was very upset--she had heard my kids talk about the city as though it were the new Jerusalem. Her comment that was most striking was, "I was a visitor to their city...and they didn't even try."

I love Paris, but I never put that level of expectation on its inhabitants. But I think she thought I had that expectation.

Is she wrong to assume that, or was I in the wrong for unintentially implying that if I loved the city, then its inhabitants must be like those of OZ?

Lesson for all of us, as so many much wiser posters have said, is to travel with planning but not with expectation.

Old May 29th, 2002, 06:21 PM
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My two cents....

I just got back from Paris and I had a very good experience. I found the people to be efficient and kind. The waiters were amazing - so professional even bringing a tray of coffee or two beers. It was first class service no matter what you ordered. They served you but were not intrusive.

As for the smoke, I didn't experience any - even the jazz club we went to was no-smoking, which is amazing! I also did not see the massive amount of dog poop everyone warns you about. In the St. Germain area where I stayed, men in green outfits swept the streets every day. The sidewalks were hosed down every morning. The few poops I saw were very tiny not like the giant German-Shepard piles you see in my neighborhood.

The Metro did not stink and I didn't see any thieves or gypsies. On a few streets I smelled something funky but it was not very often.

I will say that I didn't enjoy Paris as much as Venice, but that's probably apples and oranges. I wonder sometimes about the authenticity of some of the posts on this forum. Which Paris did you all see as it wasn't the same one that I saw last week.
Old May 29th, 2002, 06:44 PM
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In the last week, I've had a waitress avoid my eye for 45 minutes, bring cold food and refuse to take it back. Train conductors yelled at little kids on the train, someone blew smoke in my face as he lit up as I stepped off the train behind him, said train was filthy and smelled on our first 90 degree day, further, a pair of young girls let their new puppy poop in the middle of my bank's parking lot, and today it's still there, five days later. (This is the god's honest truth, I'm not making this up)

Where did all this happen? Just north of Boston, MA, USA. The moral to this story: it can happen anywhere, and does. If you were looking for Disneyland guides and service with a smile, you should have gone to Disney. Workers the world over are disgruntled and unhappy, not just in Paris. It's up to you to dwell on it or not dwell on it...YOU make your vacation what it is, not the people you think are supposed to wait on you. Did any of these experiences make the art less beautiful, the Eiffel Tower less breathtaking, the food less tasty? If so, the problem is more you than them.
Old May 29th, 2002, 06:47 PM
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well said, amy & sue!!
Old May 29th, 2002, 07:01 PM
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Going to Paris this summer and am very excited about it. I am going with the anticipation of seeing great sights,eating some good food and spending time with my family. I have no expectations whatsoever about the people I am going to meet. I am sure that some will be delightful and some less so. I am not going there to make new friends but if I did, I would be happy. Yes, I am concerned about pickpockets, broken down autos, stolen luggage and the whole nine yards of things which can go wrong. If something doesn't go wrong however, I will be absolutely ecstatic.
For me it's about trying to experience the culture and those things unique to Paris alone and savoring them.Maybe the Parisien attitude is part of this.
I am going to try not to dwell on nasty people and rude service should they come my way. When you have looked forward to something for a long time I think it's kind of foolish to let people ruin it for you...there's enough stuff that can happen which is no one's doing which can mess up even the best planned vacation.
I'm sorry that your trip wasn't better Margie. I hope you have a better experience on your next one, no matter where that may be.

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