Of course, “Paris syndrome” is real – unattractive and underwhelming France’s capital doesn’t live up to the hype

I I'd like to admit something: I have a nostalgia problem. It comes from my childhood. Growing up in South Wales, I romanticized the city depicted in books and movies and was as central to my adolescence as events in real life. By trying to emulate my heroes' experiences of the world, I felt destined to be in the right place at the wrong time, disappointed in the reality of how these cities turned out, or never were. Did.

Paris represents the apotheosis of this disappointment. There's a reason this city gave its name to the physical and psychological syndrome caused by severe culture shock.

Ernest Hemingway's 1964 Memoirs, moving holidaysWhen I think back to my time as a struggling writer in the French capital in the 1920s, it was the template for the life I wanted. It is the most beautiful city in the world, a truly rich culture surrounded by the greatest artists of the 20th century. .

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That Paris has failed to live up to such lofty expectations is best illustrated by the fact that Café de Flore, the restaurant about which Hemingway sang, has become Paris' tourist trap Angus Steakhouse. There is. This is the place to eat burnt cafe cream, surrounded by tourists in fanny packs taking pictures of the most unappetizing omelets on their plates.

I have no intention of telling you how to spend your holidays. Maybe you like the vibe of a surly waiter barely concealing his disdain for having to serve a decaf oat milk Americano to a customer who wants to know where Hemingway was sitting. However, I rarely have the opportunity to read Hemingway's books. If people-watching is your thing, you can see Louis Vuitton's flagship store and the comings and goings of the oil tycoon's nephews (and the women who pretend to admire them).

Café de Flor, one of the oldest coffee houses in Paris (Getty Images)

If you thought it was safe to take refuge at Shakespeare and Company, the Lost Generation's iconic bookstore, think again. There is a line of about 30 millennials waiting to take selfies in front of the store's sign. Montmartre is a little better. The once revered artists' quarter is now a shell of cartoonists peddling caricatures that would look right at home in Peterborough's amusement parks. Are these really the streets that Jean-Paul Sartre walked along, wondering, “Is God dead?'' Standing in this city of false cynicism…God might have easily escaped.

“Paris Syndrome” is alive and well – A high-profile example this month was an American food blogger’s tearful TikTok documenting her visit to France, which was viewed more than 7.5 million times. I appreciate the desolation many people, especially Japanese tourists, feel when they learn that Paris is not the ideal it is portrayed in pop culture and can cause hallucinations and nausea. I thought that this definition of the word was a recent phenomenon. However, it was coined by a Japanese psychiatrist in the 1980s. But perhaps this post, shamelessly captioned “France made me cry” (to which my internal monologue responded with more shame than “good”) That's probably why so many people reacted negatively to the post…we understand.

Indeed, this “influencer” @RealPhDFoodie bought a beret. But is that worse than sitting in Les Deux Magots with a book of Simone de Beauvoir essays, smoking a Gidane and shrugging your shoulders indifferently? I probably did, definitely, but not as an adult. It is probably adjacent to a beret. The Paris of my imagination is long gone. Remnants of old Paris are decaying, like Café de Flore, dining out on a centuries-old reputation that no one alive could have earned. Counting on nostalgia for what was once beautiful, they now try to fool savvy travelers who expect more than a nasty look from a surly waiter who isn't ready to order.God forbid they order in English – or is it even worse if they order in English? in french Is your pronunciation not good enough?

Selfie seekers are drawn to Shakespeare & Company ( Chris Pathirana)

Much of Paris's fault is that Paris once raised the bar for the rest of the world, and other countries cleared it. What once inspired awe and wonder can now be seen, drunk and eaten elsewhere. Even if Paris hasn't changed, our expectations have. Fifteen years ago, a Paris baker would have mopped the floor with a London baker. There may be more bakeries across the Channel now, but are there really that many? Better bakery?

We must take some responsibility for Paris' failure to live up to our expectations. We romanticize stories about Paris because we identify with them and energize their protagonists, where the perfect Parisian life is sitting in a time capsule and showing us how it feels. We are just waiting for our arrival. But once we arrive, we find that Paris is not only less charming than we expected, but even more indifferent to our own charms.

There is still joy left in the city of love. You just have to let go of everything you want to happen. Paris is… just Paris. that Is there any other Paris you want? I promise, it only exists on the page, stage, or screen.

For more information, The best hotels in Paris

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