Paris impressions...Just returned.

Old Sep 27th, 2002, 01:57 PM
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Paris impressions...Just returned.

I’ve just returned from Paris and to my surprise, every clich&eacute; I’d heard seems to be true (I reckon that’s how things become clich&eacute;’s in the first place!)<BR><BR>I’ve been to France before, but never to Paris. The physical beauty of the city is amazing and it is a thing to behold. But it was not without a twinge of humor that we noted what I would consider an excessive amount of dog crap in just about any open area. I thought back to all the Fodor’s posts warning me, but then the Paris defenders would wade in and say it wasn’t really so.<BR><BR>Well, it is so.<BR><BR>Notre dame was something of a disappointment to me. Architecturally it is, in my humble estimation, nowhere near the caliber of the cathedral in Chartres, or for Westminster Abby, for that matter.<BR><BR>The Catacombs were a hoot and far more interesting than I’d expected.<BR><BR>The meals were all taken in midrange bistros and caf&eacute;’s and were excellent, every one. The wait-staffs were courteous and just attentive enough without being either cloying or missing in action.<BR><BR>The citizenry however was, true to form, much less than “warm”. When leaving a shop, museum, or other building I instinctively held the door rather than letting it slam shut on the next person behind me. We had to laugh in that I did this probably 50 times all told and never received so much as a nod of acknowledgement, let alone a “merci.” That was somewhat hard to take for my Midwestern sensibilities.<BR><BR>(We were never convinced that the Parisians were “rude,” exactly, more that they were detached and disinterested. We kind of had the feeling that everyone in the city is in the habit of waking up very grouchy and that they do their best to maintain that attitude throughout the day, not just to tourists and travelers, but to each other as well.)<BR><BR>Glad I went, glad I’m back. Great museums of course, great cuisine as well, but I’m not on fire to hurry back. I can think of at least 5 or 6 other cities that I’d return to before going back to gay Paree`.<BR>
Old Sep 27th, 2002, 03:18 PM
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Nice post, interesting to hear your thoughts. I've been to Paris 4 times and it's so much different then my midwestern upbringing I kind of like it.<BR><BR>Lets have more vacation and less work.
Old Sep 27th, 2002, 03:40 PM
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I just got back from Paris as well. This was my 2nd visit - the first time I had only three days. This time I had five.<BR><BR>Even though I'm not crazy about museums or art, I love this city. You're right - the physical beauty is something. Just walking around, exploring a new area or dwelling in one of the great gardens (e.g. Jardin du Luxembourg) is a treat. City architects and leaders over the years have obviously taken great care in how they built, designed, and rennovated the city.<BR><BR>I was weary when I left Paris (for Normandy and then Amsterdam), but once I got to Amsterdam I missed Paris almost immediately. Amsterdam just didn't do it for me - it's an interesting place but "beautiful" isn't the right word. I haven't seen many other big European cites yet, but Paris is so far a clear favorite, one I hope to visit again and again over the years.<BR><BR>Andrew<BR>
Old Sep 27th, 2002, 05:57 PM
Joe Materotz
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I just returned from Paris after a two week stay, and I found everyone I met there to be delightful. Not a single sour soul. Perhaps my remarkable resemblance to Quasimodo endeared me to them.<BR><BR>Joe Materotz
Old Sep 27th, 2002, 06:15 PM
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We, too, have nothing but praise for Parisians. In two weeks this May, we encountered one rude person in Paris--a waiter who was unhappy that I had committed the mortal sin of forgetting to ask for milk for coffee when ordering it! Other than that, we experienced nothing but friendship and politeness--people regularly holding doors for us, giving up seats on the metro for my wife frequently, being of incredible assistance when we couldn't figure out how to operate the machines in a laundromat, getting assistance above and beyond contually from our hotel manager/concierge, etc., etc., etc.
Old Sep 27th, 2002, 09:33 PM
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Hensley,<BR>It is so sad to hear that you have had such a bad experience in Paris.Lovely city with so much class, history, food and wonderful culture. Maybe if you got rid of the maybe you will get some class and understand a good city when you see it!!!
Old Sep 28th, 2002, 08:25 AM
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Hensley your experience was much like mine. It is disheartning when people can be rather brash with you and without provocation to boot. I think you had an honest post and I appreciate you taking the time to write your experience. I think larger cities people are more hurried. I find NYC to be a very fast paced city and the people are not like back at home. But I take into consideration the environment. Take the people out of the city and they too relax. Anyway again thanks for your post.<BR>
Old Sep 28th, 2002, 08:49 AM
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I, too, recently returned from Paris and found everyone I encountered to be polite and helpful.
Old Sep 28th, 2002, 02:12 PM
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We were in Paris in July 2001 and April 2002 and found the people to be delightful, helpful, wry and even outrageously funny at times. Sales girls went out of their way to give us good service and then pile our bags with sample cosmetics; another gave me an unrequested 5% discount on my purchase because it was "last year's stock" (as if I would have known); a gallery owner discussed at length one of "his" artists when it was apparent we could not afford to buy; the salesmen at Denhillien cookware store were funny as hell; our hotel waitress was all smiles in the a.m. even if we didn't get exactly what we ordered (I think that's what the French shrug is for); the only rude person I encountered was an older American male who blew off my recommendation of the restaurant we were leaving (he and wife were reading menus in the window). That definitely left a bad taste.
Old Sep 28th, 2002, 02:32 PM
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For everyone who tells you how rude Parisians were, you will find someone else who will tell you how friendly and polite they were. For those who mention the rudeness, it could just be that the encounters with rude people left more of an impression than the encounters with others in the city. That does not mean that everyone in the city is rude. For those who mention the politeness, you should not assume, as many seem to, that people who encountered rude behavior necessarily brought it on themselves.<BR><BR>Rudeness and politeness are not mutually exclusive behaviors in Paris or in any other city. You can encounter rude people and friendly people everywhere.
Old Sep 28th, 2002, 03:16 PM
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Spent a week in Paris a few months ago and found everyone very helpful and pleasant.
Old Sep 28th, 2002, 04:02 PM
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I am from the northeast (Boston, New York), and also lived in the midwest for several years. It has been my experience that midwesterners have much more rigid rules of behavior and take offense much more easily than do people in northeastern USA. <BR><BR>I've been to Paris twice, and both times I had numerous positive experiences with people who went out of their way to be helpful and friendly to me. However, helpfulness and friendless are in the eye of the beholder. My expectations of friendliness from strangers is very different from the expectations many people in the midwest have.
Old Sep 28th, 2002, 08:51 PM
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Hensley,<BR>I laughed when I read your comment about rudeness being an affront to your Midwestern sensibilities. I recently moved to Omaha and had often heard the stories of how warm and friendly people here are. I have to say that I have never encountered ruder people (and have traveled to Paris, London, Venice, Florence, etc. - heck, even to Lichtenstein). They certainly can't drive (oh, a solid white line when entering the interstate? no, that doesn't mean anything, let me veer across it and smash into that person who thinks I will obey the law). They park their carts in the middle of the aisle in the grocery store and stare down anyone who tries to actually shop in that aisle, then run their cart into the person in front of them in the checkout line and say "Oh, was I crowding you?", then still keep the cart exactly where it is. I even had a woman at the College World Series this year cross her legs so that her right leg was halfway into the area where my legs where supposed to go, then proceeded to kick me throughout the entire game. This was about a 60 year old woman. When I asked if she could stop, she said she did not have to because she had paid for her seat (yes, but she did not pay for mine) and there was nothing I could do about it. I could go on, but rest assured that not everyone in the Midwest is polite! Give me a Parisian any day over the people around here!
Old Oct 3rd, 2002, 09:55 AM
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G,<BR><BR>How funny! I also recently moved to Omaha (after having living in bigger cities like Houston, San Antonio, etc.) and feel the same way.
Old Oct 3rd, 2002, 10:52 AM
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Maybe everyone in Omaha is just bored stiff. I live in Chicago and find the majority of people very nice.
Old Oct 3rd, 2002, 10:58 AM
Marvin the Dancing Hippo
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<BR><BR>About this Parisian thing...<BR><BR>To some extent it's a big-city vs. not-big-city thing. Many French who are not Parisians feel the same way about Parisians that many Americans feel about New Yorkers and other big city people. <BR><BR>It's also partly a cultural thing. French and Americans have different styles. As someone on this thread noted, the French don't smile like Americans do and then, because of this, many Americans assume the French are unfriendly, or disinterested. <BR><BR>Paris is a remarkably beautiful city and the Parisians have worked hard to keep it that way, not leveling beautiful buildings and putting up ugly and brutish modern buildings to replace them, as American cities have so often done in the name of ever-greater profit (although they did tear down the majestic ironwork of Les Halles.) If the Gare d'Orsay had been in a U.S. city, it would have been demolished and a bland office building put it its place, not renovated into a gorgeous art museum.<BR><BR>'Tis a pity about all the dog poop though. It does seem to be everywhere.
Old Oct 3rd, 2002, 11:08 AM
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I was just in Rome and loved it although there was dog poop all over there too. In Chicago, people walk around with plastic baggies and pick up after their pets. I can't imagine europeans like to walk around all that. Maybe someone can explain why this seems to be a common problem?
Old Oct 3rd, 2002, 11:13 AM
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I was only in Paris once, in 1985, and I loved it and long to return, but one of the first things that comes to my mind when I think of Paris is my visit to the Hermes shop. Believe me, I cannot afford to shop at Hermes regularly, but this was a special occasion. Anyway, I bought some gloves, ties, and shirts, and when the salewoman rang them up, I realized that she hadn't included several items. I pointed this out to her (am I a dummy or what?), and she then added the items to the sale. This increased my bill by about $200. It's only right that I should pay for things I was buying, but I must say I was surprised that she didn't even say "Thank you". On the other hand, I remember dining in a tiny, very good restaurant where I was served by the owner, who was so friendly and solicitous of me that you would think I had personally liberated France from the occupation.
Old Oct 3rd, 2002, 11:17 AM
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<BR><BR>Seems to me like Europeans might be more willing to accept, tolerate, or overlook the nasty habits of other people, whether it's smoking or letting one's dog poop on the sidewalk and not picking it up.
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