Paris, a poem. Half joke aside, this post resonated with a handful of others on my personal account. A friend mentioned ‘Paris syndrome.’ TLDR; Paris syndrome occurs when visitors find the city so disappointing, they begin to experience hallucinations, delusions, derealization, and psychosomatic symptoms. It’s relatively uncommon, but it exists.
Was a small percentage of the city beautiful? Yes. About 5%. We checked out the top tourist destinations, stayed at a fancy hotel, blah blah blah. (Of them all, the neighborhood of Le Marais and its historical buildings were the saving grace.) But was every classic photo surrounded by litter, graffiti, scammers at the cup game, beggars, impossible queues, homeless encampments, and sketchy groups loitering? Also yes.
The truth is, if I just shared the highlight reels and croissants and grand letter a, I would be cropping out 95% of the picture. Am I going to get heat for this? Yes. But apparently this isn’t a shocker to Europeans – turns out Paris is known to be this way. Other people’s experiences may be the classic televised one – at least this time, ours was not. 🙄
Obviously this is not all of France, just that small fraction. Thank god for Lyon, a city in southeast France, that I never expected to be so idyllic and peaceful and beautiful.
I shared the above on social media.
Because I have been religiously documenting our trip here, I wanted to include this before my Paris entries were scheduled to post. I have been mildly dreading those posts. It is hard to find the nuanced balance between idealization and honesty – honesty being there is something deeply wrong with Paris. Because you know something is off when you’re wondering if the body under the blanket is a sleeping man or his belongings – if the poo in the chic streets was produced by human or dog – when the elderly woman says “excuse me” not because you’re in the way at the cafe line but because she’s begging you for money – when a young girl is crying because she’s been scammed beneath the Eiffel Tower, 100 euro, at a game she agreed to play.
Le beau’s friend snapped him. Tell me you’re okay, man. There was a shooting in Paris today – 3 dead, several injured. This happened a day after we left. The shooting occurred about 20 minutes away from the Louvre.
The entire time, I wanted to like Paris, I really did. But something was off. Even when things were good, and the hotel gleamed, and the fairy lights sparkled, and Miss. Mona stared, something was off. The environment. The people. The litter, the graffiti, the pickpockets, the loiterers. The sheer dirtiness. Rampant. Although our walk through the neighborhood of Le Marais was pleasant, and it was the best part of our trip, I remember that we only discovered Eataly, a fashionable restaurant and wine cellar, while crossing past a homeless encampment.
Maybe your hotel wasn’t nice, a friend snidely remarked, after a long and impassioned defense of Paris. I immediately recalled when we had stopped speaking years ago.
After reviewing my photos, the below image of @Penis_de_Malice captured the essence of Paris perfectly. On the right was what Paris sold itself to be – glamour – and on the left was what Paris was – graffiti. So as I schedule out my Paris entries, I want to solidify this reality in text. If I were to only share the good, the 5%, I’d be lying through my typing teeth. The reality was somewhere in-between.
8 thoughts on “Paris Syndrome”
I agree. Fortunately, everywhere else we’ve been has been fairly reasonable. The contrast between expectation and reality was too egregious for Paris, though 😂
I just read about the shooting, and pity it happened on Christmas Eve. And yeah, I’ve also read about people experiencing cognitive dissonance when their image of Paris doesn’t match reality.
(Don’t get me started with the people — having worked with the French for a number of years, “asshole” is the most appropriate term to describe them.)
* Correction on my earlier comment: The shooting happened on the 23rd, not the 24th. Lost track of the days…
Yeesh! The cognitive dissonance in Paris was too real. I had never heard about it before – at least not to this extent. Glad we were in and out.
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Nice reportage. No point trying to sugar-coat reality. Without the low points, though, there would be no high points. ☯
Happy holidays and New Years, Graham! Haha, I got a little heat earlier for the Paris opinion reportage, but in the end, it was what we experienced. You’re right, though – in without the low’s, there’d be no high’s, and everything else has been smooth sailing.
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Sounds like a “them” problem 😉
And Happy Holidays to you too, lu. Wishing you all the best for 2023.