What Would Coco Do?

"How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone." Coco Chanel

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Location: Nashville, Tennessee, United States

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Paris Syndrome

This article just blows my mind. It says that approximately a dozen Japanese tourists to the city need psychiatric treatment after their visit because romantic visions of what they think Paris is clashes with the reality once they get there.

I have been to Paris twice. Before my first visit, I read books on Paris and the culture. I scoured the internet for etiquette, what to wear so that I didn't scream "tourist," restaurant reviews, seasoned traveler insider tips, etc. Knowledge is your best tool when it comes to travel anywhere. Plus, knowledge will help soften any culture shock you may experience.

Here's a quote from the article:

"In Japanese shops, the customer is king, whereas here assistants hardly look at them ... People using public transport all look stern, and handbag snatchers increase the ill feeling."

Now I have never been to Japan, so I can not opine as to how shoppers are treated, but I can certainly tell you something about the shops and the Parisian Metro. My favorite shop to visit in Paris is Fauchon. I have never been treated rudely, and I think that is because I don't make assumptions. Don't assume that you can paw the merchandise, don't assume that you have the run of the store. If you learn the a few key polite terms (for any country you visit) they will go a long way in softening the sales assistant, and they will be more inclined to attempt speaking in your language. I always leave Fauchon happy and with chocolate.

The metro in Paris is absolutely fantastic. The musicians that perform in the tunnels (for the most part) have permits. They have to perform before a panel to get the permit, and the music is great. It is far superior to using one of those tourists buses to get around - you won't see real Parisians there. Granted, people will not make eye contact with you, but that's just like New York. You don't make eye contact with someone you don't know, because they could be crazy. Duh!

Parisians think that adherence to customs and formality in conversation with strangers is a sign of courtesy. On the other hand, Americans for the most part think a friendly "Hey, how are you doing?" is just fine. Not in Paris baby! They will not answer you, and probably think you are a freak, or just a gauche American. I'm just telling you what I know people, I'm not saying that it's right. When you are a guest in someone else's country, it is in your best interest to research customs and etiquette. I have never had a bad experience on any of my travels, and I know it is because I arm myself with facts beforehand.

So I guess the moral of this blog is arm yourself with knowledge before going on any trip, and maybe you won't go to the loony bin.


Anonymous Dustin & Los said...


You have been SpitBoxed!

7:52 PM  

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