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blacktie Aug 17th, 2004 07:07 AM

Frankly, who cares that some freedom fries poster disliked Paris, why should we spend our time rebutting their reactions. Simply irrelevant. And when hasn't Paris spoken for herself? If you want to see Paris, go. If you listen to naysayers, well, what can we say!

SuzieC Aug 17th, 2004 07:12 AM

Do you like those co-workers in general? or, like a couple of mine, could they simply be envious, therefore down-playing and denigrating something pretty wonderful for you?

I can't understand NOT loving Paris.
I very much would love to have a small apartment and live part of the year there.

Suzanne_Valadon Aug 17th, 2004 07:14 AM

Usually ignorance makes people dislike Paris. If one were to ask those who so are so vocal in their dislike of all things French, how many would one find had actually Been to France?
Years of old fashioned tales of rudeness have spawned a cliched thinking regarding Paris.
Of course, there are people who have been there and have not liked Paris for a variety of reasons, but overall it is just a tired attitude with little knowledge behind it.

swandav2000 Aug 17th, 2004 07:37 AM

Yes, Ira, as I was leaving Paris (one day early), I suddenly remembered some of the peaceful spots I had enjoyed in the past. But too late!

I haven't written Paris off entirely; I will be back. Maybe combined with a first visit to the Dordogne or maybe a Paris-Annecy-Montreux sweep. Lots of ideas. I'll be there again, and I'm sure it'll capture me again.


PatrickLondon Aug 17th, 2004 07:57 AM

There could be many reasons - for most, it may be a combination of simply doing the tourist route march in hot and sticky weather, in August when a lot of Parisians are out of town and those who stay can feel a bit miffed about having to work. I took against Paris as a rather immature 15-year old sent on a school exchange trip and having to do formal family visiting every time I went there after that. At that time, there was a lot of political and social tension in France and many Parisians were undoubtedly stressed and offhand with foreigners. In 1968 I really noticed the difference when staying with a family in the south-west - one of their uncles was friendliness itself and chatted with huge enthusiasm about a midly subversive/satirical TV programme - and he was a policeman at a time when heads were being bashed in on the streets of Paris.

Now I take the time to stroll around the bits of Paris I like, and you can keep the grand boulevards and the 16th. And it's much more fun.

capo Aug 17th, 2004 08:08 AM

All of the people I know personally who have been to Paris love it. I've returned five times since my first visit.

taggie Aug 17th, 2004 08:22 AM

IMO Parisians have a more reserved way of conducting themselves that many Americans just are not used to and find off-putting. So that could be part of what's caused the myth of rude Parisians, and maybe made people uncomfortable.
You MUST greet politely when you enter a shop. And trying a few words of French will create a lot of good will; you may still encounter some rudeness but you'd encounter rudeness at home too!
Other than that, it's beyond me why anyone would not like Paris. I was, I must admit, very surprised that I loved it as much as I did. Now whenever I think of Paris it makes me smile. Make sure you have some quiet time there just to absorb the ambience.

martytravels Aug 17th, 2004 08:25 AM

I've found that people who generally don't like big cities generally don't like Paris (or Rome, or London or so on).
And as mentioned before, there's also that "freedom fries" brigade that views anything French as an affront to "Amurka," which is just fine - they should stay at home anyway.
To truly savor the great cities of the world, you've got to taste Paris.

pop Aug 17th, 2004 08:31 AM


As everyone is different in what they want from a trip, let me give you my experience with Paris. I had always heard it was a magical city and was initially disappointed on my first day there. As I changed my attitude from expecting Paris to charm me, I relaxed and sought out what Paris had to offer. After my first crepe with Nutella from a street vendor, I began to get a better feel for the place. Just like any big city, each section of the city has a somewhat different personality. For me, I would recommend you stay away from the 8th district (Arrondissement?) initially as this is a more snobby area with the expensive shops. Now that I have been to Paris four times, I will tell you what I tell my friends who go there for the first time:

1)The districts I would consider for a hotel on a first trip inclued 1,3,4,5,6 or 11.
2)Upon entering any establishment, ALWAYS greet the people there, in french.
3)Go to the d'Orsay Museum to see the Impresionist paintings on the third floor (Personal favorite).
4)To save money for dinner, don't order a la carte and try the menu of the day.
5)Do not let the language difference concern you-with a good attitude, all will be fine!
6)Take a boat ride on the Siene in the evening early in your stay there.
7)As much as I hate touristy things, the Eiffel Tower is a must (Tour Eiffel).
7)Use and get to know the subway system. It really is easy and inexpensive.

Relax and absorb the culture and sights Paris has to offer. That is my two cents worth.

Mark_va Aug 17th, 2004 09:26 AM

Paris is great! I've gone there each of the past two summers and never had a problem with the people. Just nail down the basic niceties-greetings (Bonjour), thank yous (merci), etc.
Pick up a basic French cd-rom for $10 at Best Buy and play the games-remember a few key phrases like "what is this" or "where is the...", or "How much..." all in French and you'll be fine (all are in the back of Paris travel guides, like Rick Steves too). The French like to see you try, and they seem to repect the little formalities. Do that and then all the culture is openly available to you with a smile.

miguelgcuadra Aug 17th, 2004 09:37 AM

It is a BEAUTIFUL city, you will love it. Only thing i dislike about Paris, and Europe in general, is the public bathrooms... so few, so dirty,so smelly, so hard to find. Spain is changing a liitle bit and bathrooms are more decent now. It could be part of their culture, but with so many tourists, they can do someting about it. Even the best stores in Paris have disgusting bathrooms.
If you want to enjoy Paris, be ready to walk for hours...... best way to see it.

ira Aug 17th, 2004 09:40 AM

>...i dislike about Paris, and Europe in general, is the public bathrooms... <

They now have toilettes on the streets. Modern and clean. Be sure to have 0.40E in change.

crefloors Aug 17th, 2004 09:52 AM

I just love Paris. I think maybe some people think the people are rude because they talk to people who have had, what they perceive to be, a negative experience. I don't discount those reports because I guess "negative" is in the eye of the beholder. I can't help thinking however, have any of you ever had bad service in a restaurant in your own home town? Have you ever had a sales person stand around talking to her friend on the phone or popping her gum while she (he) ingors you? Most of my encounters with the french people during my visits have been just fine..some have been fun and wonderful, some had been just ordinary, and a few have been less than satisfying. You just have to keep it all in perspective. I don't expect everyone to "gush" over me. I noticed that most of the cafes or brasseries we stopped in for lunch were just packed and the waiters (waitresses) were just flying around. I didn't expect them to explain everything on the menu to me and I soon realized that they much appreciated it if you knew what you wanted when they came to take your order. I wasn't offended because they were rushed. I know, they are in a service business and if you need an explination of how something is prepared it's their job to do that for you, but I just never got my nose all out of joint if they seemed rushed...just didn't take it personally. On the other hand, there was a little cafe that we ate at several times and the waiter..and he always seemed to be there no matter what day or time we got there...was just a blast. He also was rushing around, waiting on a huge amount of tables, but always had time for a litte chat, to take pictures of the tourists..we never asked, he volunteered, and to just generally make it a fun experience. It's just all in a persons style. You have to remember that there are a lot of people in Paris and they are all different just like any big city...the good, the bad, and the ugly, so just try to keep it in perspective. When I had one of those less than satisfying encounters, I would always call it one of my "french" experiences, making reference to the sterotype of the "rude" french. I just never took the time to get offended. I mean after all, doesn't New York have the Soup Nazi!!!!!!!???? LOL...see, it always could be worse!

tcreath Aug 17th, 2004 09:56 AM

Thank you for all the replies! Its interesting to hear about Paris from others' perspectives. Just a few notes:

blacktie, I am still planning on going to Paris and wouldn't let a few negative comments stop me. I was just curious as to why these comments seem to come about.

A few asked about my coworkers above. My coworkers weren't trying to be mean or judgmental; the comments just came up in general conversation. It wasn't a "why the heck would you going to Paris?" comment but more of a "I've been there a few years ago but didn't really care for it". Two family members also had general responses. Nobody tried to talk me out of it or anything, and as I said before, it wouldn't stop me from going nor would it put a damper on my trip.

cigalechanta Aug 17th, 2004 09:59 AM

Paris is the city in which one loves to live. Sometimes I think this is because it is the only city in the world where you can step out of a railway station?the Gare D?Orsay?and see, simultaneously, the chief enchantments: the Seine with its bridges and bookstalls, the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Tuileries Gardens, the Place de la Concorde, the beginning of the Champs Elysees?nearly everything except the Luxembourg Gardens and the Palais Royal. But what other city offers as much as you leave a train?---Margaret Anderson

The Frenchman, by nature, is sensuous and sensitive. He has intelligence.

kakalena Aug 17th, 2004 10:03 AM

French tolerance is an oxymoron. It's a long story but the ending is that the French believe that they are the be all and end all of culture. Parisians believe that they are the creme de la creme of that tenet - the pinacle of civilization. : D))

It is difficult to be accommodating to guests when you are looking down your nose at them. I speak French and I know their drill - they'll always have that sharp edge towards foreigners. Other cultures will trip over themselves to make a guest feel welcome. The French will make you earn your welcome.

If you have a sense of humor, it is a pleasure to goad them at the game and it can make for a very pleasurable stay. Otherwise, I don't find them a lot of laughs. I find them to be a bit prissy and uptight.

There are some lovely things to see in Paris. Go! Be yourself and have a wonderful time in spite of them! It really doesn't matter if you speak a word or two of French. They'll either treat you as a fellow human being - or not! ; ))))


crefloors Aug 17th, 2004 10:03 AM

One more thing..we did encounter a lot of french people that spoke english..some better than others. My french is "fractured" but I had some very intersting encounters trying to speak it...but how well they speak english, especially if you don't know ANY french..would have an effect on a particular encounter. I know my head was bursting by the end of the day with trying to speak and understand. I would watch french TV in the hotel room for awhile to get used to the sound of the language and then eventually switch to CNN because it was all just too hard and it was hurting my little pea brain. It's stressful to try to speak to someone when you can't really express yourself fully in their language, and if they aren't involved in the tourist business in some way, they probably don't use their english on a day to day basis...just like me with my "french". You have to remember, they live in France and their native language is French. The don't HAVE to speak english even though you would really like them to.

cheryllj Aug 17th, 2004 10:09 AM

I can't imagine not liking Paris. Do they like Rome, Prague, Barcelona, or Vienna and just don't like Paris? Or is that they do not like traveling in any foreign city where they don't speak the language perhaps? I would guess the latter.

At the risk of merely repeating what everyone else has said, it makes a *huge* difference if you know just a few simple phrases in French and attempt to greet Parisians in french ("Bonjour! Comment ca va?") before asking "Parlez-vous Anglais?" I find that Parisians are much nicer to you if you make an attempt at French, even a feeble one, before launching into English. Although it's a myth that "everyone" speaks English, you will be able to find English speakers most places, but not everywhere.

Sadly, I have seen many Americans in Paris be very demanding and pushy in English ("Where is my check?" "How much is this in American?" "Where is the Mona Lisa?") without taking the time to first inquire if the person even speaks English. It's no wonder the Parisians are rude to those Americans -- can you imagine someone coming up to you in NYC and barking at you loudly in a foreign language?

Don't listen to the naysayers: Paris is perhaps the single most visited city in the world, with good reason. Parisians are generally not as outgoing as Americans, and perhaps aren't as warm and friendly as people in other places, but they are not as rude as their reputation -- a little effort toward learning their language and culture goes a long way.

susie Aug 17th, 2004 10:12 AM

Every time we plan a trip to Paris there are always a few naysayers that give us a hard time. When I pin them down for specifics, most have never been but have a cousin, neighbor, friend, etc. who had a bad experience. For the rest, I just tell them that they have never experienced the Paris that I know.

kakalena Aug 17th, 2004 10:23 AM

<i>Creflors: Do they like Rome, Prague, Barcelona, or Vienna and just don't like Paris? </i>

Answer: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! ; ))))


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