What makes people dislike Paris?

Old Aug 18th, 2004, 05:51 AM
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Hi Eloise
Sorry but I think you made too much of a generalization about Parisians. I agree that they can be aloof, like New Yorkers and some other city dewellers can be, as opposed to the 'hail fellow well met' attitude more often seen in other places, places that seem to me more relaxed in general.

But,after 8-9 visits to Paris I have rarely met with rudeness. I've shopped top of the line and in Monoprix. Same with restaurants. I take the metro and I take taxis. I speak some French, more than phrase book French, but I am not fluent and I have no doubt that my accent is not pure. Yet for me, rudeness in Paris remains the exception and not the rule.

I'll add, as some one noted above, some phrases don't translate well.
The French "Bien sur" as a reply to a request or question, translates literally to "Of Course" or "Surely". It is an agreement with the statement or question, as in, "Of course we can do that for you" or "Of course your information is correct." When a Parisian uses English and says "of course" as a translation of the common French phrase, it is not (necessarily) to be taken as
"Of course, you idiot" or "Yes of course, what a stupid question."
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 06:03 AM
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ira
 
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Hi shellio

>those who feel a connection with Rome or with London often fail to feel the same way about Paris and vice versa.

...I love, love, love Paris and really like Florence. I wonder if there's some correlation going on here...<

Excellent chance to prepare a learned paper on contemporary travel preferences and the underlying cultural contexts with special reference to race, class and gender.

Shall we apply for a grant?
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 06:19 AM
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ira, that grant would make more sense then the crazy ones that are all too often awarded now.
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 06:48 AM
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I don't love or hate Paris. There are things about Paris I really enjoy and appreciate, and others that I loathe.

As I've probably mentioned a few times on this board, I lived in Paris for over 3 years. As regards the rudeness issue, I'm inclined to agree with Eloise.

Parisians are definitely considered rude, arrogant and snobby by many non-Parisian French citizens. This Paris-Province divide is similar to the "North-South" divide that exists (or is believed to) in the UK.
Even my BF, who is Parisian, agrees that rudeness (or rather, lack of courtesy) to strangers is a common Parisian trait. It's definitely less marked in Lyon, for example.

When you are off the tourist trail and actually living /working in Paris, you do experience Parisian "rudeness" first hand. It's not imaginary, it's not a myth. It's just a fact of life in Paris, and after a while you learn not to take it personally - indeed, you may even find yourself behaving similarly.
Examples? Pushing and shoving on the metro, not acknowledging someone who shows you courtesy (opening a door, etc.), refusing to smile or show kindness to strangers (once, on my way to work after an illness, I fainted on the escalator coming out of the metro. When I came to, I was lying on the ground with people actually stepping over me and tutting because I was in their way).

What I dislike about Paris is the incredible density of people, all living on top of one another and trying to go about their daily lives. Everybody seems stressed out and frazzled, and fiercely territorial, whether they are defending their place in the supermarket queue, their spot of pavement, their table at the café, their parking spot. It makes people defensive and snappy, espcially at rush hour. I don't really like the crowds of tourists (yes, I know that's cheeky of me to say so here) all over the place, I dislike the fact wherever you go, you're surrounded by people. I dislike the parks that won't let you sit on the grass, and I dislike the total disregard for pedestrians.

There are things I like about Paris - I enjoy visiting and do so often - but hey, that wasn't the question
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 06:52 AM
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Elaine: The opinion I expressed was one shared by Parisians; they ought to know.

I said nothing about rudeness; there is a great deal of difference between rudeness and haughtiness and/or superiority. If you do not speak the language fluently, the nuances of that haughtiness may escape you.

The haughtiness of the Parisians is not the same as that of anyone in a big city. One does not encounter that kind of air of superiority, for example, in Rome. The French and particularly the Parisians are inculcated from grade one with the idea that there is nothing on earth to compare with "la gloire et la civilisation" of France. French politicians to the present day speak of the "mission civilisatrice" of France, i.e., France's mission to bring civilization to the rest of the barbaric world beyond its borders.

And I am perfectly aware of the French meaning of "Bien sur."
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 07:20 AM
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I am with ira and shelio. (loved Paris, Florence, did not fall in love with Rome, London.) maybe we have the Paris/Florence gene? post the abstract for that grant on this forum after you submit it...gt;)
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 07:26 AM
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Paris will be absolutely wonderful if you (as others have mentioned) 1) plan ahead, and 2) even better, obtain a good person to guide you ESPECIALLY if you don't speak French. We had a fabulous guide and the trip was perfect. They're all over online.
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 07:30 AM
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I am so glad that when Parisians are rude to me that I am not able to recognize it.
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 07:32 AM
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Hi Eloise
I was not implying that you personally were not familiar with the phrase bien sur, or unfamiliar with any phrase, I was just using that as an example as part of the general discussion.

My opinion about rudeness goes back to the original poster's question and her/his having heard more negative remarks about Paris. I was expressing my opinion as a visitor, not as a native or resident of France. As a sometime visitor,who most often IS on the tourist track, I have not encountered what I perceive to be rampant rudeness, as opposed to courtesy. That is not to say that I find everyone to be friendly or outgoing. As a New Yorker, I may well be innoculated.
cheers.
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 07:36 AM
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hanl, I expect several of them also stepped on your back as you lay senseless on the ground. But being polite and correct, they were sure to say "au revoir, merci" as they walked away without a backwards glance.
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 07:48 AM
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I went to Paris with my family at Christmas. I didn't exactly dislike it, but I didn't have a great experience. However, that was largely because of the cold- it was freezing and rainy, which made walking around really unpleasant. In May, you definitely won't have that problem! Plus, going with family (at least mine!) can be a bit stressful

But truly, I did feel uncomfortable about the language. I don't know a bit of French, and so I was intimidated in restaurants, etc.. My mom speaks French, so I'm not sure what it would have been like if she hadn't been there. If you buy a little book with common phrases so you can read signs at least, you should be fine.

That being said, Paris really is a great city, and very, very easy to get around. We stayed in Montmarte, which was neat. My favorite part was walking around the Left Bank and the Sorbonne area- very "Parisian!" We ate at a terrific little fondue restaurant, but they have literally every kind of ethnic food on those streets. I also liked the area around the Sacre Couer- incredible views of the whole city. I could have stood there for hours (if it wasn't freezing!) The Musee d'Orsay is fantastic as well, but be careful on Tuesdays, when the Louvre is closed (since all the tourists then go to "the other one.)

If you have time, I would take a day trip to Versailles. This is something I definitely plan to do in the future! Same with visiting the Paris Opera House. There is an amazing model in the Musee d'Orsay, but I want to see the real thing

Have a wonderful time! Paris will be heavenly in the spring!
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 07:52 AM
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LOL degas
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 08:17 AM
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hanl,

Several years ago we had a better experience in the Metro. One of our group didn't "mind the gap" when stepping off the metro, and stepped between the train and the concrete. She sat down and could't get up, one leg stuck..a very dangerous situation to be in.

Immediately, before we know what had happened, two or three men lifted her to her feet and helped her onto the landing.

Thank heavens for those men who saved her from what could have been a serious accident.

Byrd

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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 09:06 AM
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I wonder if good experiences in Paris are simply luck of the draw. I've been there several times and have always felt welcome--strangers on the metro and in grocery stores (among others) treat me with warmth and kindness. I told one American friend living in Paris about some of my experiences with the people there and he raised his eyebrow and said, "Hmmm, maybe the French are changing." But 3 other American transplants that I know feel the same as I do--welcomed, embraced.

On my last trip there in April, I went with a coworker who is excited by the mention of Paris but it was her 2nd time. I think she is cute & sweet, but it seemed like people treated her very rudely. OK OK so she was a bit like the people we talk about on this board: She would go into a shoe store and say, "Can I see this in a size seven?" without checking to see if the clerk spoke English. When the clerk would say, "Huh?" She would speak louder and slower: "SEVEN. A SIZE SEV-EN?!" (I had to hide behind a shoe display.) But even the hotel staff treated her brusquely.

So anyway, I was wondering about luck of the draw since my experience seemed so different from my coworker's, and we were on the same trip! It was as if there was a black cloud over her head or something.

As for speaking the language: I don't speak a lick of French, other than bonjour and merci. Sometimes I communicate by flashing my French-English dictionary, other times I resort to drawing pictures (which gets a good laugh).
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 09:16 AM
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Ira, you apply for the grant...I'll go do the research. ;-)

I often see posts in which people worry that they won't be able to enjoy a visit to Paris because they don't speak French. I think it's interesting that I rarely see posters who are intimidated about not speaking the language in Rome, Barcelona, Prague, Dubrovnik. I had almost as much fun in Paris before I spoke a word of the language as I do now, being reasonably conversational. Seems to me that many Americans have a fear of rejection in regard to Paris, which is totally unreasonable. Paris has welcomed foreigners for centuries and has been a refuge for many.

I think it's less that Parisians are "haughty" than that they're trying to get along in a big city. I feel less "welcomed" in New York, by far, than I do in Paris, and god forbid trying to visit there without speaking the language. Having said that, there's no way to convince anyone to like a place; you either do or you don't, although sometimes one bad experience can color your perception. That's why I think it's important to go back a couple of times at least before writing any place off.

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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 04:37 PM
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Tracy,

I took my first trip to Paris this past July, and I also got mixed opinions on the city.

My friends and I got yelled by a group of French people at the train station; and I was shocked because I've never been in any kind of public confrontations like that before here in the US or any other places that I have been in. So that was a bummer. During the same trip, I also ran into a wonderful non-English speaking French man who desperatedly tried to help me finding my way to the metro station.

Another thing about Paris was while I found some part of the city to be absolutely stunning, I thought the city was also very dirty. Now, I am aware that rubbish is a common issue in any big cities anywhere in the world. But when I was in NY back in April, the city was rather clean. I even sat on the street that was blocked off for the Easter parade.

I can't say that I would never go back, but I am not in hurry to return.

Regardless of what others say, I think Paris would be wonderful a place to share with your husband. You can just walk around and hang out in the city, sampling all of the yummy delicacies at bakeries, and go to their charming little restaurants.

Just dont take the French people to personally Have a great trip!

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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 04:49 PM
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We just returned from Paris and had a wonderful time. It is an incredibly beautiful city and we found most people to be helpful and friendly. Take the time to learn basic French greetings (hello, goodbye, thank you), so they believe you are at least trying to communicate in their language. We also carried a great little French phrase book and dictionary from Berlitz. It was helpful for a lot of situations, especially reading menus.
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 05:28 PM
  #78  
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In my opinion Paris is fine (not great, not bad, but fine).

Maybe some people dislike Paris because:
1 They flew directly into Paris are sleep deprived (jet lag).
2 They are flying out of Paris and are tired (and thinking of sleeping in a familiar bed).
3 They have realized that their $400 per night hotel room is not worth nearly $400 (just like one of my coworkers).
4 Paris is too big to understand in a half a week (look at a map of the Metro and compare it to where you live).

Just some thoughts.
 
Old Aug 18th, 2004, 07:09 PM
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Rire hors bruyant! ; ))))

It's full of foreigners, mostly French.

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

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

I am so glad that when Parisians are rude to me that I am not able to recognize it.

I expect several of them also stepped on your back as you lay senseless on the ground. But being polite and correct, they were sure to say "au revoir, merci" as they walked away without a backwards glance.


I haven't seen this big a pile up and pile on since I was at the NASCAR sponsored WWF championships!. Woowee!

A big heartfelt apology to all the Parisian readers ( there must be one out there) : D)))))

Ohrayvwire Y'all!

Bises,

Kakalena
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Old Aug 19th, 2004, 02:15 PM
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Some american behaviours when viewed from a french perspective can seem downright rude in their own country. E.g.Many French people smoke- if you don't like that don't go.
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