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Is Paris like New York?

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Mar 18th, 2004, 05:32 AM
  #1
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Is Paris like New York?

We are taking our first trip to Paris next month (finally!). My husband keeps saying that it will "be like New York," which to him is a good thing. I think NYC is fine, but a little intimidating. I picture Paris as less chaotic, more beautiful, and a slower pace. Who's right?

Thanks!
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Mar 18th, 2004, 05:40 AM
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Melissa,
Come and see for yourself, and let us know what you think of it afterwards.
Have a good trip!
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Mar 18th, 2004, 05:43 AM
  #3
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Much true in both interpretations. Lrt's say that there is a spectrum of city "pace" represented at one end by New York, at the other end by Charleston (SC) and in the middle by Seattle. Paris is perhaps slightly closer to Seattle than to NYC, but definitely on the other end of the spectrum from Charleston.

Of course, the issue may be the "yardstick"... is it "pace"? or "richness"? or "vibrancy"?

In the end, the comparisons just don't work all that well.

And most importantly of all - - at the risk of stating the obvious - - Paris is FRENCH. They speak French; they eat French food, they wear French fashions and drive French cars. If speaking and hearing French is beautiful to you, than it is clearly more beautiful than either of the three cities mentioned above. If you do not deal well with the language and cultural difference that this represents, it could easily be as intimidating as New York.

Best wishes,

Rex
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Mar 18th, 2004, 05:44 AM
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I don't feel the two cities are even comparable. They are both a different experience. I would also like to hear your thoughts after your return. Bon Voyage!
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Mar 18th, 2004, 05:45 AM
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Hi melissa,

I agree with baldrick.
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Mar 18th, 2004, 05:46 AM
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Paris is smaller and more approachable than New York. IMHO it is more beautiful and more open - the only skyscraper that I can think of in the center city is the Montparnasse Tower. Parts of Paris have a slower pace, parts are fairly busy. While I don't think of New York as intimidating, Paris seems far more approachable to me. I think of New York as a masculine city and Paris as a very feminine city.
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Mar 18th, 2004, 05:52 AM
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melissa19:

I, too, agree with ira and baldrick.
 
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Mar 18th, 2004, 06:35 AM
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Well, obviously you'll see for yourself, as everyone is saying.

I live in NYC. They're both unique, obviously. I think that Paris, like any other grand European city, has much more of a sense of history. There're quite a number of beautiful and historical buildings and I think that you've fewer of these in New York or in any other American city. Certainly it'd be hard to find something that matches the Louvre Museum in grandeur and in history in America. Or a place like Notre Dame, for example, whose foundations date back several hundred years, before America was even founded. The Place des Vosges (Marais) is also a few hundred years old.

On the other hand, the grand boulevards and L'Etoile probably date back just a little over a hundred years (correct me if I'm wrong) -- a result of Hausmann's modernization programs. Other interesting buildings like The Eiffel Tower and Pompidou and Opera Garnier are also fairly recent in the scheme of things.

On the other hand, I'm getting the impression that cities are becoming more and more alike everywhere -- it's a sign of globalization and homogenization. There're some American chains which are present in Paris, and there're French chains which will remind you very much of American chains. So in that sense, Paris and NYC are not very different. And NYC is full of faux bistros that consciously imitate the Parisian bistro (think Pastis, Balthazar, Les Halles, etc.). NYC also has a number of patisseries (think Ceci-Cela, Payard). Fauchon even has two (?) branches in NYC. So in that sense the two cities are similar.
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Mar 18th, 2004, 06:38 AM
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Gee, you guys are sweet. Of course, I will go, make my own impressions, and report back. Just trying to get a feel for what I'm about to experience. Urban jungle, or beautiful, stroll-able city? I assume more Greenwich Village (which I like) than midtown Manhattan?
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Mar 18th, 2004, 06:42 AM
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Paris is definitely not an urban jungle! Comparing it to Greenwich Village is a good start.
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Mar 18th, 2004, 06:45 AM
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Paris, like NYC, is a huge city, with many neighborhoods that are built centuries apart, as 111op says. So, you should just go walk around as many parts as possible to get what Paris is really like.

If you have to compare to NYC, then Marais or Latin Quarter will be comparable to Greenwich Village or East Village. Department stores along Haussman would be like mid-town. Champs Elysee is wider than any avenues in NYC, so there's no comparison. If you want to see new skyscrapers like NYC's Financial District, go out to La Defense.
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Mar 18th, 2004, 06:47 AM
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To me, the two are nothing alike, except that they are both cities. Paris is simply SO much older, with SO much more history, that the architecture alone sets them vastly apart. And unlike New York, large parts of Paris were "designed and laid out" by Haussman, giving you all those grand boulevards and gorgeous parks. Not that New York doesn't have green space - but Paris is both grander and more intimate, with something appealing to the eye and other senses wherever you find yourself - a building facade, a fountain, a doorway, a courtyard - whereas in New York you can walk for blocks without seeing anything I'd call beautiful. There's also the Seine, which in many respects dominates the landscape of the city. I think a city built up around a river is very different in orientation from one that's not.
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Mar 18th, 2004, 06:47 AM
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One of the biggest differences for me (other than the obvious things like language) is the scale of the architecture. When I think of midtown Manhattan, I think of skyscrapers on streets that are actually a bit narrow to hold them, forming that wind tunnel effect and casting so much into shadow.

You have none of that in Paris. Where the streets are narrow, the buildings aren't very tall. The combination of broad boulevards and a dearth of skyscapers brightens up the city.

I've found Paris neighborhoods that remind me of the Upper West Side and of Greenwich Village, but the closest I came to feeling like I was in midtown Manhattan was in a throng of people on the rue de Rivoli, near the Samaritaine department store.
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Mar 18th, 2004, 06:49 AM
  #14
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Hi melissa,

The point is that parts of Paris are like NY, but other parts are like Baltimore, or Cleveland or New Orleans.
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Mar 18th, 2004, 06:55 AM
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While I continue to agree with most of what people have posted here, I'm going to give you some more examples as to how Paris is similar to New York (or how the great cities are similar in general).

Consider art exhibitions:

Matisse/Picasso showed in Pompidou and also in MoMA. The Gauguin exhibition in Paris last year is showing in Boston right now. The El Greco exhibition at the Met last year is now showing in London's National Gallery.

(Classical) music events:

Top performers will tend to perform everywhere. Maurizio Pollini, for example, will play the piano in both Paris and Carnegie Hall.

Restaurants:

Alain Ducasse has a restaurant in New York. Taillevent has a branch in Tokyo. Nobu has branches in London and New York.

Designer stores:

Everywhere, of course.

So the actual buildings aside, you'll be surprised by how similar the cities are. It's surprisingly common to hear French being spoken in NYC, as well, by the way.
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Mar 18th, 2004, 06:57 AM
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Paris is far prettier. It's one of the most beautifully designed cities in the world. Skyscrapers are few and far between. Paris is much older than NYC, therefore the architecture and the history can't begin to compare.

Paris can be intimidating but this always depends on your own personality and life experience.

I love NYC for many reasons but, darling, this is not Paris.
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Mar 18th, 2004, 07:12 AM
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I felt comfortable in Paris right away, I always felt that being a New Yorker, we dressed similarly, Paris is easier for me to get around by train or bus, Paris is very beautiful in a different way from NYC, but the big city feeling is there. But then, London is like that to me too.
The age of everything in Paris sets it apart, the green spaces, the cafes and wandering the small streets..that is similar but not really anything like the Village in NYC.
We are used to good restaurants so going out in Paris is familiar, nothing in Paris was intimidating to me but that first cab ride from the Gare du Nord when the cab driver pretended he could not read numbers..other than that..I agree with baldrick, you have to see it yourself and let us know what you think.
Have a Fabulous time!
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Mar 18th, 2004, 07:22 AM
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Nor is Paris New York. New York is a vibrant, exciting, cosmopolitan, new and ever changing city. In case no one has noticed, it is between two rivers, the East River and the North River. The South Street Sea Port is a fun place to go. The view of Manhattan from the Triborough Bridge is a fantastic vista. The Circle Line Tour around Manhattan is one of the great boat rides of the world. Every city in the world has its own character. You can love both New York and Paris, but you can never compare them.
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Mar 18th, 2004, 07:56 AM
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One thing I don't think ayone has mentined is that French parcs are not parks like Central Park or gardens in the English sense. They are very formal nd structured with tons of gravel paths ad fountains - and nut much in the way of greenery - much more formal than parks in the us or england.
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Mar 18th, 2004, 08:10 AM
  #20
 
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Suddenly I have an urge to go to Paris.
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