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tcreath Aug 17th, 2004 10:30 AM

One of my coworkers (she is a friend) in particular didn't care for Paris, and she was born and raised in London (moved here in her 20's because her husband is American and military). Most who have said it have visited other countries as well (at least I believe) but for some reason just didn't care for Paris. Oh I said above, to each their own! I haven't met a European city yet that I didn't like in at least one aspect or another. For now, I'll start brushing up on my (nonexistent) French. I always try to make an effort to speak the native language, even if it usually sounds so bad they can't understand me anyways! :)

kamahinaohoku Aug 17th, 2004 10:33 AM

OK, exactly how am I going to say this? It's not that I dislike Paris (because I don't), it's just that I'm ambivalent about it. Actually, it's probably more appropriate that I say I'm neutral...I just don't care about it. I've been there four times, and I think the people are charming (in their initially reserved sort of way). They've always responded to my less than accurate French with grace, which I find amazing. And, I've always had a good time there. So why don't I love Paris? I have no idea. If someone said to me, let's go to London, or Rome, or Venice, I'd go there in a heartbeat. But if they offered Paris...I'd really have to think about it. (I feel the same way about Florence.) Personally, I think that some cities just "grab you", and Paris doesn't do that for me. I even teach a four hour travel class every month about why to go to Paris and what wonderful things there are to do there, yet as much as I've enjoyed my trips there, and the fabulous food, the museums and the the history...if I never went back there, it would be OK with me. Weird, huh?

tcreath Aug 17th, 2004 10:39 AM

kamahinaohoku, I think I agree with you. While I loved most cities I've visited in Europe, I didn't particularly care for Florence, even though it seems to be a favorite for many. Its not that I didn't like it, because we had a great time and the city had a lot of wonderful things to offer, but for some reason it just didn't really do it for me and I really don't care to go back. I'd take Rome (or Vienna, Munich, or London) in a heartbeat though!

Christina Aug 17th, 2004 10:53 AM

I don't think people dislike Paris any more or less than other cities, I just think it is such a wellknown European tourist destination that it is talked about more, that's all. You just notice it more. I imagine people like and dislike any major city.

I don't like Vienna that much but some people post on here that they love it. That doesn't make me crazy nor them, we just have different tastes. Same for Amsterdam.

Paris is a very large city with a lot of problems that any big city has, so I don't find it unusual that some people would not like it. I love Paris, although I know I probably would not feel the same way at all if I didn't speak French and hadn't studied French literature a lot, as well as performing a lot of French piano repertoire. If I didn't, I don't think I'd hate Paris, but I don't think I'd view it as that much more special than a lot of other big cities.

I can almost always understand why people have certain attitudes and feelings about things -- at least, if they explain them a little. I've known French people who didn't find Paris that thrilling because of various problems and attitudes there.

I think from Americans, some of it can be bias fed by a lot of anti-French media and general attitudes, some of this history goes back a long time (eg, Ben Franklin purposely tried to dress and act like a country bumpkin in Paris for political purposes, and helped spread the feeling way back then that Americans were sort of uncultured). On the other hand, I think many people who go overboard on how wonderful Paris is etc are doing the reverse thing. There is a certain mystique in the US about Paris and France, and some people try to impress others by talking about how wonderful and great things are, and if it were another city, they wouldn't.

One example is the need to get an apt. in Paris when on a short vacation, even from people who've never been there, are first-time visitors, and are only there a few days, and have no unusual needs. Invariably you hear people talk about how they want this because they like to pretend they really live there, it makes them feel like they are Parisian, etc. I'm sure it is partly to casually drop in conversation with others about your Parisian apartment you are renting, or "my apt. in Paris this summer", etc. YOu don't read that kind of stuff about any other city when people are on vacation and weighing accommodation choices--about how I must have an apartment in Edinburgh so I can pretend to be a real Scot, etc. Look, I buy into this stuff myself sometimes, and I know it, but I try to recognize it and make choices based on my real needs and the facts. YOu'll also see stuff on these boards occasionally about people who don't know French, aren't EU citizens, have only been to Paris a few days once in their life, and now think they want to move to France to live or retire or whatever.

JulieVikmanis Aug 17th, 2004 10:55 AM

I think a bad experience anywhere can color your reaction to the city/place you have it in--whether bad weather, a poor hotel, or something more off-putting like a pickpocketing, etc. Or you can hear of someone else's bad experience and start your own with the thought that your own will be likewise poor. The first time we went to Paris (on our first trip to Europe)we had trouble finding and then extending a room for our stay and were actually laughed at by the tourist information office people when we tried to arrange lodging without a reservation. Further, we were treated somewhat rudely by the reception at the Intercontinental which became the only place we could find a room. All that sort of confirmed all those old tales of rude Parisians and caused us not to return for many years. When we finally went back after several years (and many more trips to Europe so we were then seasoned travelers) we found we loved the place and have now returned about 20 times and will probably stay a month next year. Sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes good things do. It shapes your opinion for good or bad.

ira Aug 17th, 2004 10:55 AM

>...if I never went back there, it would be OK with me. Weird, huh?<

Yup. :)

shellio Aug 17th, 2004 10:58 AM

tcreath, obviously you understand that sometimes there's something that can't be analyzed about why one place "speaks" to you while another doesn't. I have noticed however that among people I know, those who feel a connection with Rome or with London often fail to feel the same way about Paris and vice versa.

Personally, I've never "gotten" Rome after several visits and I actively dislike London, but I love, love, love Paris and really like Florence. I wonder if there's some correlation going on here that I don't understand, given what other posters have said.

kamahinaohoku Aug 17th, 2004 11:01 AM

ira - I gladly give you all my future time in Paris... ;;) And Florence, too, if you want it...

capo Aug 17th, 2004 11:02 AM

<i>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 (&quot;Bonjour! Comment ca va?&quot;) before asking &quot;Parlez-vous Anglais?&quot; I find that Parisians are much nicer to you if you make an attempt at French, even a feeble one, before launching into English. . . . Sadly, I have seen many Americans in Paris be very demanding and pushy in English (&quot;Where is my check?&quot; &quot;How much is this in American?&quot; &quot;Where is the Mona Lisa?&quot;) without taking the time to first inquire if the person even speaks English.</i>

Well said, Cheryl. Even if you assume that a European speaks English, it's a fundamental courtesy to ask them that <i>in their own language.</i>

Learning to speak another language is a significant endeavor. But simply learning, and using, a few polite phrases in a language is something I think every traveler should do.

SuzieC Aug 17th, 2004 11:11 AM

.... mmmm...makes me wonder. Christine planted an idea and I got to thinking. What if one's affection for a city starts out in our youth. Christine comes to her affection by way of her music, probably as a youngster and the language as a matter of course.
I don't know WHY now, I know that I signed up for French rather than Spanish in junior high, everyone thought I was not &quot;being practical&quot;...
As for me, early on my interest at heart lies in art, history and food...and even the history of food...
France always has had the draw...
AND, just to add to the mix here, I hope people quit thinking that PARIS is can I say this, Paris is just a &quot;part&quot; of France...and one shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater...

HappyTraveling Aug 17th, 2004 11:17 AM

Don't get me wrong, I love France, ...but it's the people I don't care very much for.

I remember our visit to Paris a couple years ago. We were in the Louis Vuitton boutique looking to buy a handbag. My father who was with me waiting asked if he could use their restroom, and he was rudely told to go outside. A polite 'no' would have been sufficient.

We were so offended that we stood up and left. We ended up buying the handbag in Italy instead.

That's not to say that 'I'll never return to France'. I've been back for a few more times after that, and will be heading back to Paris in Oct. France is all about the culture, the architecture, history, cuisine....
Don't get me wrong, I simply love France. It's the people I can do without.

When we are in France, we try to be independent and avoid having to bother the French.

Their arrogance is quite difficult to handle sometimes.

capo Aug 17th, 2004 11:32 AM

A distinction really needs to be made between Parisians and the French in general. I've had numerous French outside of Paris tell me of their disdain for Parisians. It's a big city and I think big cities tend to have a higher degree of brusqueness.

Almost without exception, the French I've met outside of Paris have been gracious, charming, and helpful. (And I've met numerous Parisians who are that way as well.)

elaine Aug 17th, 2004 11:32 AM

SuzieC, nice thoughts but that youth idea doesn't apply to me. I studied Spanish in High School, and went I first started traveling I went to a couple of other places before Paris.
Silly me.
I really haven't disliked anyplace I've been so far, like Christina I'm less fond of Vienna for example, so I don't love it everywhere. But, Paris (and Venice) are deep in my bones, followed by Prague (a new infatution, needs to be tested again) and London.

La_Tour_de_Cause Aug 18th, 2004 12:22 AM

some thoughts...

before jumping into the phrasebook standbys like &quot;how much does this cost?&quot; and &quot;where is the bathroom?&quot;, it's really important to know HOW and WHEN to ask those questions. Never interrupt a salesperson when they are engaged with another customer...wait patiently until there is an appropriate break in the conversation, and then smile and say &quot;bonjour...excusez-moi...&quot; and proceed politely with your question. This doesn't guarantee a civil response, but it's a start. Walking up to a clerk and simply blurting out &quot;Ou sont les toilettes&quot; while they're talking to another customer will surely start you out on the wrong foot.

Second thought...if a salesperson in a Louis Vuitton store is rude, is that much different from some clerk or salesperson on Rodeo Drive or a designer store in New York? They can be equally snotty and offensive.

There are snobs and rude clerks everywhere in the world, I suspect. My strategy is to &quot;out-nice&quot; them, even if I look like a fool. It's much more fun than getting upset.

twoflower Aug 18th, 2004 02:47 AM

Travelnut: your story about Americans in Paris reminds me of a conversation I overheard on the steps of Sacre Coeur when I was there last October:
1st Girl &quot;Let's go to Notre Dame next.&quot;
2nd Girl: &quot;What's that?&quot;
1st Girl: &quot;Some church. Y'know, there was a movie about it? A Disney cartoon about a hunchback?&quot;

I love Paris, but didn't on my first visit which was very rushed. It's a city best enjoyed over several days at a relaxed pace.

Parisians are fine if you make the effort to at least begin in their language, even if it's only an initial greeting. They can be haughty, but can just as often change and become the opposite. Like the Air France staffer who, when I suggested it might be cheaper to go out to the airport on standby, drew herself up with a sniff, glared down her Gallic nose at me, and put me firmly in my place with a haughty &quot;Air Fronce does not do standby m'sieur!&quot; Yet within 10 minutes she was handing me a list of discount travel operators on Avenue de l'Opera and whispering conspitatorially &quot;You realise I should not be doing thees m'sieur, but you might find eet 'elpful!&quot;

twoflower Aug 18th, 2004 02:50 AM

That word was &quot;conspiratorially&quot; but you probably already guessed that.

Sue_xx_yy Aug 18th, 2004 05:04 AM

Personally, I prefer George Gershwin's observations of an American in Paris. :)

tudorprincess Aug 18th, 2004 05:04 AM

Shellio, You ACTIVELY dislike London? Now that is serious. I can't imagine not liking London. IMO it's the greatest place on earth. So I guess this thread answers my questions about Paris.
From what I can sum up the people are stand-offish, and reserved and that's why there is the misconception of rudeness. I feel the British are the same way. On our first trip to London I felt unwelcome but after two more trips realized that the people just aren't as upbeat or outgoing? as most Americans.
Which is fine, it's just culture shock on your first trip abroad. I suspect Paris will be just fine with us.
Now, if I only felt better about speaking French.

Eloise Aug 18th, 2004 05:04 AM

There's a saying that I like and subscribe to: &quot;Paris is lovely, but there is one problem: it's full of Parisians.&quot;

Parisians are, by and large, disliked by the French in other parts of France for their haughty and superior airs.

And speaking the language fluently, as I do, will only subject you to MORE of that haughtiness and superiority -- because the Parisian accent is the ONLY correct accent.

Incidentally, all of the above was confirmed to me by four very well-spoken, cultured and -- amazing to say! -- friendly Parisians whom I met in Sicily and spent quite a bit of time with.

So there is the odd exception that proves the rule, but don't count on encountering too many of those exceptions...

tudorprincess Aug 18th, 2004 05:14 AM

Maybe it's better that I don't really speak the language. If someone is rude to me I won't understand what they're saying and it won't ruin my day.

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