- When interacting with locals, always start off by saying Bonjour Monsieur, Bonjour Madame. That will help disarm cranky Parisians. If doing an AirBnb make sure to do this when seeing people on the “palier” — stair landing in Parisian apartment buildings.
- Consider going to the top of the Tour Maine-Montparnasse, instead of the Eiffel Tower. You will have 1/100th the foot traffic and you won’t be surrounded by pickpockets. Plus you’ll be able to see the Eiffel Tower :-)
- Check out and buy food from the local street market in your area.
- My favorite thing to do in Paris still is flâner — to stroll about the lovely city.
A story about Guy de Maupassant always makes me smile. He hated the Eiffel Tower (“I left Paris and even France because in the end, the Eiffel Tower annoyed me too much”) and yet supposedly ate lunch there every day. Why? Because it’s the only place in Paris where you can’t see the Eiffel Tower.
Is the amount of dog poop in Paris even worse than in Berlin? I cannot imagine that.
It's not just French people. American tourists have a reputation in many countries for being annoyingly loud.
The teacher sometimes asked the children were to "use their one metre voice".
It was a great atmosphere, but I was glad when the waiter asked us to swap tables to the other room — he rearranged all the noisy people into one room, and the quiet ones into the other.
Sounds like you might need to try some restaurants in the US. It's more than McDonald's and TGI Fridays.
You should checkout San Francisco, it's not only dog poop here though ;)
In all seriousness, I'm Married to a French woman, lived in France for a little while. Paris is my favorite city, followed by Tokyo probably
PS: Last time I visited the Eiffel Tower I was 4 years old.
- Touring the Statue of Liberty is a great experience, but if you just want to see it, then the Staten Island Ferry has a great view of it, and it's free to and from Staten Island
- The view from the Empire State Building is amazing, but if you instead go to the top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, then you get to see the Empire State Building and Chrysler Buildings, and in general get a better experience.
It is so iconic that I think folks should do it.
Also, highly recommend waking up at dawn and visiting Trocadero. The views of the Eiffel Tower are just ridiculous amazing: https://www.danaberez.com/paris-instagram-spots/
Our family (8, 5, 5, myself and wife) had a very good time last summer as Paris tourists (with day trip to Versailles — grounds better than palace tour).
Paris also has Uber, so traveling around isn’t difficult even if you don’t speak French.
That's about 0.0000003 chance.
Isn't there a base rate? If anyone does something anything new that's as big as visiting Paris while coming from Japan, then I'd venture to guess that 1 in 6 million will get a psychiatric disorder. I mean, the chance is so low that I dare to guess that it might be the base rate.
But yeah this only justifies a wikipedia article because we have memed it because it is funny.
Hopping to more generic subjects makes threads less interesting, because the larger a topic is, the fewer unpredictable things there are to say about it. Even if one comment manages to say something unpredictable, the replies quickly revert to predictable things. The most-commonly-repeated arguments have accrued so much mass that no discussion can resist their pull. Therefore, one rule that has developed on HN over the years is to resist generic tangents: they are antithetical to curiosity. Curiosity likes to look around and see something new and specific; generic tangents are powered by emotional energy that wants to talk about something old and familiar.
Edit: This is a medium-is-the-message thing. A large, flat, open forum like HN can't discuss generic topics well, because of the mass effect I mentioned above. For such discussions to be interesting requires longer (for depth) and more individual (to stay on track) genres. An essay at least, if not a book.
And yet it was absolutely lovely. I could talk endlessly about the people, the sites, the food (and hardly just French food) and the museums. I'm sort of dumbfounded at people who can't see that.
No one was rude to us, even outside of tourist areas, mostly just professional.
Of course it's not Disneyland. We had to learn language basics, checkout travel books and scour the internet. I think this gave us rational expectations.
Semi-related, I live in Portland, OR which has a similar climate, possibly similar civic challenges and interestingly, a similar fascination from Japan.
Oregon even uses Japanese style animation in ads, presumably because of that.
Mexico city is freaking ugly 90%. And insecure, but if you go to the centre or Santa Fe , you will have a nice experience...
I grew up in a very “red” part of the US and was given a very negative view of the French (or anyone else for that matter). I was so surprised to find the people were friendly, kind and inviting. A small French restaurant even stayed open late because my friend and I had just arrived in Paris and had no idea of where to find food.
The city struck me as beautiful. Everything was so clean and manicured (my town by comparison was dirty, dusty and unkempt).
Paris destroyed my sense of exceptionalism.
(The exaggerated liberal perspective being, we're doing it all wrong & screwing everything up. The exaggerated conservative perspective being, we are perfect and changing anything risks ruining everything)
As far as your good experience with a restaurant, those experiences certainly happen, but try going into a bank five minutes before lunch. Or try to enter a grocery store 10 minutes before closing.. or even many restaurants; your experience was a pleasant exception, but let’s be careful not to judge a city based on a single happy experience — I would be willing to bet in your “red” area of the United States, visitors could argue similar instances of unexpected kindnesses. Humanity is generally good, but we always see the grass as being greener.. Also comparing a world class tourist city to your town is a bit unfair, plenty of blight all over France. Travel 30 minutes north of Paris and it looks like a third world country in many places. But on the French: they can be kind and inviting, no question, but for a real treat, travel to the south of France.
Zürich on the other hand is very clean, very orderly, very manicured. Vienna as well.
Beverly Hills isn't a "city". NYC isn't spectacular?
> Paris is a big step up.
I didn't feel it was a big step up from NYC - especially given the hype that paris has.
Why make it political? What does "red" have to do with it. American exceptionalism is an national traditional. Do you think all the movies and tv shows making fun of the french came from a very "red" part of the US? Last I check NY and LA weren't very "red".
> The city struck me as beautiful. Everything was so clean and manicured (my town by comparison was dirty, dusty and unkempt).
Are you sure it was paris and not another european city you were in? Parts of Paris is beautiful for sure, but I've never heard anyone describe it as "so clean and manicured". At least those aren't the words I'd use to describe Paris having visited it.
> (my town by comparison was dirty, dusty and unkempt). Paris destroyed my sense of exceptionalism.
If you were from a small town in a very "red" part of the US, any medium sized city anywhere would have cured you of your sense of exceptionalism.
We’re not talking about having « diverse neighborhoods » or « sketchy neighborhoods » ( it’s part of the fun of living in a big city). Actually i’ve lived a huge part of my life in those neighborhoods, and criminality isn’t such a big problem (although things are very very different if you’re a girl).
The most pressing matter for the country is the cultural gap between very large parts of the whole french population (not just a district or a city).
The country is currently facing an identity crisis and the fact that overtly racists political parties are close to winning every election should be a sign that something’s going really bad there.
Unfortunately the debate is completely crippled by people who refuse to address the issue like grown ups ( either by calling everyone a racist, or by actually being racist)
I've had extremes. Either very rude, or unreasonably nice and friendly. Paris has 10 million people around, so there must be some very good people. But the average guy you'll hit on the street is probably going to be a mediocre experience.
Here is a study that confirms this: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12870773
Did Parisians continue speaking to you in French? I found that they immediately switched to English when I spoke French to them. I'm level B1, what level would you say you are/how many years of instruction have you got?
I've found this to be the case too. But their English is almost always better than my French. I've found that attempting French does produce a much more friendly response than just going in an speaking English loudly.
And i’m not even talking about suburbs, which people coming from the airport must go through. People are absolutely not what you’d expect french to look like ( and i’m not talking about size), public transport are a total trash, working only half the time correctly.. Restrooms makes us look like a third world country, etc.
I could go on and on , but i’ll just sum it up with one anecdote : i spent a month in japan, and this is the first time in my life i felt ashamed of the way we treat tourists in Paris. Food in touristic places is garbage, people are generally rude, etc etc..
My advice if you want to visit paris : rent something nice in the center, and take a cab straight from the aiport, and make the ride by night.
I've traveled all over the world, Paris is not anywhere near that bad compared to many places I've been, and generally I enjoy most places I spend time in because there's something positive to be found everywhere. But I wanted to reinforce your viewpoint, because it is not inaccurate, even though I find it to be somewhat one-sided. I don't believe sharing this deserves downvotes, especially in the context of the link.
“Renoux indicates that Japanese media, magazines in particular, often depict Paris as a place where most people on the street look like "stick-thin" models and most women dress in high fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton.”
Your personal biases made you assume the previous commenter strictly implied race/color.
Was what OP said, so I think it’s reasonable to assume they weren’t talking about size.
By the way, why do you assume bsaul read the article then?
(I'm not saying bsaul didn't, but you are assuming bsaul did and ivanbakel didn't read the article.)
What would you "expect" the French to look like, that they do not look like in Paris (while cities in Europe are all much more non-white than the countryside, which for the commenter does not have the same problem)? This is a dogwhistle.
More to the point - dogwhistles are meant to give subtexts with plausible deniability. That you can find an alternative meaning for them is precisely their intent. It is not a compelling argument to claim that the original commenter was, in fact, innocent - you should instead be able to absolve them beyond all doubt.
And clearly that isn't possible here.
The fact that other people immediate jumped to "melting pots" and "cultural erasure" doesn't indicate that that's what the original comment was referring to.
> More to the point - dogwhistles are meant to give subtexts with plausible deniability. That you can find an alternative meaning for them is precisely their intent.
Human communication is difficult. The original comment wasn't specific and so it acted as a rorschach test. It isn't possible to know what the original poster meant without asking.
> It is not a compelling argument to claim that the original commenter was, in fact, innocent - you should instead be able to absolve them beyond all doubt.
No. It isn't possible to "absolve someone of all doubt" when the accusation is "vague racist dog whistle". You have to deal with uncertainty in these situations and your inability to do that, to understand that the meaning of a sentence as intended by the author is almost always partially undefined and open to interpretation, is seriously disturbing.
The linked article says:
> Renoux indicates that Japanese media, magazines in particular, often depict Paris as a place where most people on the street look like "stick-thin" models and most women dress in high fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton.
So when OP said he wasn’t talking about size, presumably in reference to that, I read it as a dog whistle too. Especially given the whole “great replacement” conspiracy out there and Trump’s “Paris isn’t Paris anymore.” The whole point of a dog whistle is plausible deniability though, so who knows for sure.
Interesting. I have not been to Europe so did not have that context, but thank you very much for explaining.
But if French governments wanted to limit migration from Algeria or elsewhere, they could have done so. It was certainly not an inevitable consequence of colonialism.
And now, in Brest, deep down (or west) into Breton (Celt) territory, we have a radical Sunni mosque. And woke Americans lecturing me about it's supposedly a great thing.
You don't have to look that closely to find diversity in Paris.
Many immigrants in Paris who "don't look French" are from former colonies that still speak French to some extent. Keeping Paris white would be denying part of France's history.
Nobody forced France to colonise half of Africa.
Could you please answer the following questions:
1. Is there a limit at which you believe mass migration into France would be undesirable?
2. If you believe that there is such a limit; what would a legitimate movement to argue for limiting mass migration look like, such that you would not be accusing them of xenophobia and racism? How would their arguments differ from core-questions'?
Too much mass immigration to anywhere would be undesirable, but for economic and population density reasons. I am skeptical of the idea of the idea that culture is fixed and immutable.
> what would a legitimate movement to argue for limiting mass migration look like
It would exist in a time where mass immigration is causing the problems I mentioned above.
There is clearly more to it than just economic and population density reasons. Culture matters. Consider, for example, that female genital mutilation is now a European problem. Or that Europe today has de facto implemented Islamic blasphemy laws - where people are afraid to criticize Islam publicly for fear of being murdered. Or that the number of rapes has gone up significantly in Sweden, with more than 80% of rape assaults being carried out by foreign-born individuals? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_in_Sweden) Or that 52% of British muslims believe that homosexuality should be illegal, and that close to half of British muslims believe that wives should always obey their husbands? (https://www.ipsos.com/sites/default/files/ct/publication/doc...)
So mass immigration can clearly change society for the worse outside of simply economic and population density reasons.
But it can also change for the better.
His point is that culture is not fixed and immutable. Whether it changes for better or worse depends on circumstances.
This seems like a very... austere, perhaps even autistic lens to use on the problem. It sounds like if we were just able to pack people in as perfectly as possible, like apples in a box, and somehow still maintain an average tax profitability from them, you'd be okay with whatever was happening inside the apple box.
Clearly that's a mis-characterization of you or any other reasonable person's viewpoint. The welfare of individuals, their life experience, their safety, their freedom, their ability to express themselves and find their niche... all of this matters.
> I am skeptical of the idea of the idea that culture is fixed and immutable.
Of course not. However, it moves slowly! There's a viscosity to it, and part of that resistance to change is something like an implicit Chesterton's Fence:
> Chesterton's fence is the principle that reforms should not be made until the reasoning behind the existing state of affairs is understood.
Just because you _can_ change a culture (in this case by force, by changing the cultural makeup of a region, often by fiat) does not mean that it is a moral act, or that the result you get out the other side is some predictable good. It is too complicated, too reactionary, too slippery of a concept to deal with in any way other than the purely speculative. Trends don't always continue - and conversely, pretending a trend or other demographic factor doesn't exist can be just as bad. There are far too many inconvenient truths to learn that illustrate the fallibility of humanity in every form, _particularly_ in terms of how we collectively get along with one another.
> It would exist in a time where mass immigration is causing the problems I mentioned above.
A compelling argument that this is already the case is being made by many. The solution thus far has been to remove them from the public square so we can go on pretending there are no problems.
Clearly, this is what is happening with your contributions to this discussion. No matter how carefully written, your original contribution is nowhere to be found now. This only goes to show that these matters can not be debated.
It's absolutely not fixed and immutable. That's what this whole discussion is about: whether there should be policies directed at preserving culture as it exists.
>It would exist in a time where mass immigration is causing the problems I mentioned above.
That the Far Right has gained power in Germany, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Italy, etc etc (not to mention the US) today is all the evidence I need that we live in that time already.
That's precisely the problem.
Do you support mass immigration of European or Chinese people to Africa until population density becomes a problem?
I have no issue with that. In fact, I like it so much I'd like to adopt the idea.
@dang -- remove these evil people from Hacker News
It could be referring to race, but the fact that you "can't imagine" what else it could refer to says a lot about you and nothing at all about the original poster.
The very Wikipedia article we happen to be discussing contains "...Renoux indicates that Japanese media, magazines in particular, often depict Paris as a place where most people on the street look like "stick-thin" models and most women dress in high fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton...".
Having been to Paris myself, all of these are true.
Are you familiar with the concept of confirmation bias? Look hard enough for something and you'll see it ... whether it's there or not.
Therefore, there is some sort of signal that we're picking up on. That signal, almost by definition, is the aforementioned dogwhistle.
It isn't quite the right tone to not be somewhat obvious. Since it is intentional, it doesn't matter "how bad" it was: It's the conscious attempt to insult/denigrate/hurt that itself becomes the problem.
At the point where you're professing sadness for Paris' dead culture in reference to the immigrant population, it's no longer a dogwhistle. It's just blatantly obvious standard-issue racism.
Also most of the people in the Banlieus are third-generation French. Thinking of them as "non-Europeans" is another big fat racist standard. And also part of the reason these people are having a difficult time succeeding in France.
>It's just blatantly obvious standard-issue racism.
No, it isn't. There have been entire neighborhoods in e.g. Harlem that have been gentrified out of their cultural heritage. Is lamenting that fact racist? I for one think it's sad, that a culture that was distinctly black is now gone forever - and it's not racist to say this. Now, Harlem is likely a bad example because it's a place in America, where we are supposed to be a melting pot and this kind of thing happens all the time. I don't have enough experience in Europe to give a more pertinent example, but again I still don't think it's at all bad to lament the fact that there's been some cultural turnover - especially when it happens on a very short timeline. That seems perfectly normal.
There is nothing racist in saying that importing vast numbers of people from a different culture into another will radically change the culture native to that area. Quite the contrary, it's absolute fantasy to try and pretend it does not.
I understand that the concept may be completely foreign to someone who has grown up in modern America, but it's a rising issue amongst Europeans to the extent that the EU has created a position titled "VP for Protecting Our European Way of Life" in the midst of Europeans getting continually more aggrieved over the cultural changes happening with mass migration and worse - the cultural changes expected of them to facilitate that mass migration.
If we can't get past the hand-wringing and proclamations of "racist!" every time someone infers anything remotely negative about immigration, especially mass migration as Europe has encountered, then I can guarantee you there are very dark times ahead.
There are positives and negatives to migration, to bang the drums happily when discussing the positives and then sticking one's fingers in one's ears, closing one's eyes and lashing out when the negatives are brought up is a very dangerous game to play, and that is on any topic, not constrained to migration.
You do not need to be from Japan to feel that way when visiting Paris either. And I do not see anything wrong with pointing that out.
Also: send your tourists to San Francisco, we have even lower standards here :D
I think that's the case with most French cities. Nice centers but the surroundings are average at best. An exception would be Marseille, it is filthy even in the center ;).
People were delightful. Streets were clean enough. The subway system was older but functional and fine. It felt like any large city that wasn't built in the past 20 years (e.g. Shanghai) and has history and a broad demographic. It had the gritty underside of any large, bustling city, and many of the faults I could equally apply to London, NYC, and other major cities.
Loved it. Plan on going again. I never felt unsafe or uncomfortable, and was always in awe of the beauty and history.
As other people say, medium sized cities are gentler, and countryside is friendlier.
e.g: was lost in a small town, and after roaming around in front of some tiny store, the cashier came out proposing to help me. I didn't even try to ask her from outside, she naturally took the initiative.
Expectation of Paris: "the city of light", "the city of love", the home of iconic structures such as the Eiffel Tower, home of fashion, moulin rouge
Reality of Paris: construction, traffic, fences, security, getting scammed on the street... a normal city
> The reality can come as a shock.
> An encounter with a rude taxi driver, or a Parisian waiter who shouts at customers who cannot speak fluent French, might be laughed off by those from other Western cultures.
> But for the Japanese - used to a more polite and helpful society in which voices are rarely raised in anger - the experience of their dream city turning into a nightmare can simply be too much.
Wow - that's a very fast demographic change.
The question, at least for me, is not where you come from, but how well can you integrate. Latins have it easier because we share the language.
In Spain is just a matter of opportunities. It's easier to find a job in big cities.
Seine-Saint-Denis, for comparison, had 27% residents born outside Metropolitan France, and that was in 1999. Marseille is 25% muslim.
- "Not all capitals - it is a question of policy."
- "Interesting. So in Japan people inmigrate [sic] more uniformly?"
... then you don't answer but proceed to compare capitals of the world to each other. I thought we were comparing countryside immigration to capitals vs to the rest of the country. Not between countries.
My counterpoint was that there is nothing inevitable about it, and that it is a policy choice. Tokyo is a very large, very modern city with a massive economy, yet it has a very modest foreign population and is recognizably Japanese almost everywhere you go (which results in being really safe even at night, almost completely litter-free, and certainly a great experience of Japan for a visiting tourist).
The difference you meant was between Spain and Japan. Only 14 km of sea separate our mainland from Africa, with little boats full of desperate people crossing every day. Also we have two towns in continental Africa with land borders with Morocco where border barriers are sometimes just rammed.
But that's just the most dramatic side of it. Most immigrants simply cross the borders as tourists and stay for work. I guess Japan is a little different.
FWIW, Madrid is very safe at night. Only a few neighborhoods, far from downtown, are dangerous.
Edit: immigrant, note taken. Inmigrante in Spanish.
I loved it. Particularly amazing melt-in-your-mouth croissants for breakfast and delicious huge (almost apple-sized) strawberries bought by the kilo. And the art and architecture, of course.
But instead I saw something like this:
(Plus dirt, bad smell, etc.)
But in general, Paris is a beautiful city with many really nice places. Can be very inspiring for a short stay.
I went in thinking it would be just amazing and expecting an exemplary brand experience only to land in HR hell with some dirty scoundrel managers and rampant corruption all through the ranks compounded by lame duck self-dealing executives
I eventually had to be airlifted out after a bad reaction similar to a psychotic break
People it doesn't have to be this way!
If you want to see a beautiful imperial and romantic type of city go to Vienna.
"No, because if these people looked good in their own skin, it was only an appearance. Indeed, they already had slight mood disorders, or a general malaise, but which remained unexplained or unconscious. "During the consultation, there is often a history that goes unnoticed, which neither the patient nor those around him or her have been aware of. At that time, these people were somehow predisposed to psychic decompensation," explains Dr. Mahmoudia. And all it takes is a triggering factor for the pathology to reveal itself. Also, being in an unfamiliar environment can lead to a distressing experience and reveal certain disorders. However, the journey is not the only revelation. "The same type of disorder can also occur at home, following a completely different traumatic event such as the loss of a job, a break-up with a loved one, or an assault," adds Dr. Mahmoudia. But in the context of a trip, what would have been a "banal" depression takes on a much more dramatic expression.
In a second case, rare and more serious, the trip is part of the patient's delirium, it is part of a pre-existing psychiatric pathology. It is then described as a "pathological journey". Dr. Mahmoudia remembers this Japanese woman brought to the emergency room for behavioural disorders. "From Tokyo she said she heard the voice of the Virgin Mary begging her to come in front of the Notre-Dame de Paris church. In such a situation, the patient obeys the orders of a voice that he hears, but which is hallucinatory in nature and actually belongs to his own delirium. In other situations, the journey becomes an escape, a survival instinct. "Some patients have only one idea in mind: to flee at all costs from the haunting voice that persecutes them and prevents them from sleeping. Travel can therefore be a symptom, among others, of a pathology that is already known. "The journey then becomes part of a delirious process that belongs to the patient's psychiatric picture," concludes Dr. Mahmoudia.
These two situations are different. In one case, the journey is part of the patient's delirium, in the other, it is the triggering event of his pathology. But in both situations, Dr. Mahmoudia prefers to speak of pathological travel or travel-related psychopathology, rather than traveller's syndrome. The latter term is used incorrectly, as it originally defines a completely different situation. Also called "Stendhal syndrome", the traveller's syndrome is actually a state of ecstasy accompanied by a strong emotional charge when in contact with a work of art. This experience remains quite rare and affects the most sensitive souls. Their heart accelerates, they are taken by vertigo, they suffocate. And then they quickly come to their senses. This emotion is not a real psychological disorder and therefore does not lead to any particular treatment. It was Graziella Magherini, a Florentine psychiatrist who, in 1990, described for the first time this surprising syndrome linked to travelling in art cities. Surprised to receive emotionally shocked tourists, she wondered about the effects of an artistic overdose. She then made a link with Stendhal's travel diaries, which in 1817, on leaving the church of Santa Croce in Florence, reported: "I had arrived at that point of emotion where the heavenly sensations given by the Fine Arts and passionate feelings meet. On leaving Santa Croce, I had a heartbeat, life was exhausted at home, I walked with the fear of falling". These are certainly moving words, but they are not comparable to the emergency cases that Dr. Mahmoudia is able to meet in his consultation."
EDIT: OK I read the description of the video, what a disgusting human being. He's making the point that no "French" (for the person in question, that apparently means "white") people is left in Paris.
> For those who are confused by the point of this video, the point is that France is changing forever due to mass immigration. The people in this video were not speaking French, the women were not wearing their hair in French Braids, they had their head scarves on. When I was driving from the airport I saw people being fed from volunteer aid vans in the Syrian zones and coming up to your cars with signs in Arabic. The posters on the walls and the protesters yelled refugees welcome. Much of what you are looking at is not legal or proper migration and assimilation. France will not be France for long.
what a bunch of bigotry.
It's absolutely part of it. I actually have no idea what your fine point is. Please spell it out for me.
> Do you expect others who've visited Paris to come away with quite a different perception, even being in the same places you were in or objectively no?
I don't think this is an objective conversation. I don't understand how someone couldn't have appreciated the things I did, that's all.
You may want to say it’s perfectly « normal », because that’s actually what the situation is now indeed. But for every single tourist i know, as well as for every people that has known Paris before the 1980s , it comes as a great surprise.
But somehow i doubt you are. Your tone seem to suggest you’re rather the kind of person eager to call anyone a racist every time cultural gaps or even identity in general is mentioned. I’m not sure you realize it, but you’re the exact mirror image of people from the extreme right that blame race for every trouble in the country.