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Parler Paris Après-Midi
At every Après-Midi, a guest speaker of note will come to talk about a topic of interest and then open the floor for questions and discussion.
September 9, 2014
Shari Leslie Segall, Author
90+ Ways You Know You're Becoming French
Calling upon her insights into what makes our French cousins who they are, author and speaker Shari Leslie Segall shares her views in good humor about the inhabitants of her adopted country in her regular “Hints for Newcomers – Hindsight for Old-timers” column in FUSAC (France-USA Contacts), as well as in other publications. This will be an interactive, fun session, where participants will be sharing their own insights, experiences, questions, comments, hints and tips as to how "French" they have become!
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
...and the second Tuesday of every month 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Upstairs at Upstairs at Café de la Mairie (formerly La Pierre du Marais), on the corner of rue des Archives and rue de Bretagne, 3rd. Métro Lines 9, 3 et 11, stations Temple, République or Arts et Métiers Costs nothing except whatever you drink!
(Photo by Erica Simone)"The Local" reported this past week that "France keeps crown as top tourist destination." It seems that European and Asian visitors have a lot to do with that. My guess (and that's all it is) is that the Europeans have less money and therefore are staying closer to home...and for the Asians...well, they are traveling everywhere for just the opposite reason.
No doubt, the Asians are in full force -- I've never seen so many, particularly those not traveling in the traditional groups, although they are still stereotypically laden in cameras and taking photos of everything in sight. (This is just an observation and I make no judgment as we are all guilty of photographing Paris without reserve.)
If France is going to reach it's 100 million per year foreign tourists goal from 2013's 84.7 million, they're going to have to do a lot more to make them happy.
One thing for sure that would boost travel to France would be the weakening of the euro, which is currently under debate since recent reports show the Eurozone economic growth is at a standstill -- Germany's economy shrank and France's is at zero growth. (irishexaminer.com/business/) Simon Hilton of currency specialist, World First, reported that "Euro continues on its rocky road, encouraging overseas buyers to take advantage" and says that "The slow decline of the European single currency continued in July against many major economies." And furthermore, "as we stand at the moment, and thanks to a poor European inflation number once again in July, we can only see further slips in the value of the single currency." (I'll be reporting this in more detail in tomorrow's French Property Insider)
This is good news for those living in euros on a dollar income, those traveling to France from outside and those wishing to make an investment here as are going to see more affordable days, further boosting France's tourism among other things.
The Luxembourg GardensAnd in spite of the big numbers keeping France at the top of the tourism totem pole, not everyone seems to be so in love with the City of Light. There's enough negative blah-blah about Paris out there to sink the proverbial battle ship that the tourism authorities need to take notice of...some of which are things we 'locals' aren't wild about either.
One is the weather. I do enough complaining myself for all of us about the constant gray, light drizzle and cool temps that dampen our spirits. Mark Twain once said: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” He really meant Paris. (It is currently 59ºF partly cloudy and it's August! Did you bring your woolies?) Of course, the tourist board won't be able to do much about this.
A biggie is of course, the cost. Everything is expensive. One blogger said "We justified most of our exorbitant expenses by saying 'hey, you’re only in Paris once!' and what we realized by the end of the trip was that you’re only in Paris once because that’s all we can afford. Our first born will have to attend community college, but we had a decent week."
Maybe with the weakening of the euro, that will change, but what the average traveler doesn't realize is that business owners in Paris can't afford to charge less if they want to be able to pay their high rents, their employees' high social charges, their high corporate taxes and still walk away with any profit for themselves...unless they take in cash and then they can...(you know what they can do with it.)
We hope one of these days that for everyone's sake the authorities will realize that overtaxation is a major contributing factor to their zero growth, but who am I to say? Meanwhile, we who live here do benefit from the social programs and all the benefits that the taxes pay for...but profit for our hard work isn't one of them.
Customer service still ranks way up there, too. After 20 years of living here, it still bugs me, even though I've learned well enough how to 'charm the pants off' a cute waiter. Mostly, in the places I frequent, service is exemplary -- even better than one might expect Stateside, but every now and then, there is still that 'slap in the face' bad attitude that wants to make you run for the hills or flip them the bird.
I confess that last week I actually said "f--k you" to a taxi driver after he berated me for being on the phone in his taxi and made some negative comment about Americans. It shocked even me.
One thing tourists complain about a lot are the street scams, the phone heisting and pickpocketing. The gypsies are notoriously good at getting you when you least expect it and the pickpockets are expert. This isn't only in Paris, however. All of Europe suffers from the 'disease.' And naturally, unsuspecting tourists are targeted.
The trick is not looking like a tourist and being really vigilant. I haven't been pickpocketed since 1994, but my phone was stolen right off the table in a closed restaurant a couple years ago thanks to gypsy kids who swarmed the table and distracted us. Now I literally 'wear' my phone in a pouch hung on my body and never, never, never leave it on a table for anyone to snatch. Last night I actually had a nightmare about having my wallet stolen, awakening and realizing that everything of importance (credit cards, cash, etc.) is in the one wallet -- a bad idea. On the agenda is separating the cash from the cards to make it a little less difficult for a pickpocket to get the best of me.
One thing the tourist board hasn't yet realized that will affect their goal to reach 100 million visitors is all the negative press about the city of Paris trying to remove much needed vacation rental properties. The city's team of 20 are following tourists to their apartments so they can 'bust' the owners for violation of the stringent rental laws. What kind of neighborly behavior is that? And what if the only experience a visitor can have is in an expensive, tiny hotel room with no kitchen or laundry facilities? They will be complaining even more for lack of feeling welcome.
Illustrations by FENIPOne blogger, at the end of his 'bitch, bitch, bitching,' closed with "So that's why I hate Paris. I'm sure there will be more reasons in the coming days, but that's enough complaining, because I can't hate this city for too long. It's just so wonderfully beautiful and full of life."
September 4th I celebrate my 20th year living here. Even after my own complaining, that speaks for itself, no?
P.S. It's tomorrow! Watch House Hunters International on August 21 at 12:30 p.m. E/P for "Every Little Girl's Dream Comes True in Paris". Katherine is a successful Hollywood screenwriter who wants to buy a home in Paris so she can explore her French heritage, inspire her daughter's future and show her aging father a glimpse of their family roots. Tune in to find out if she finds a pied-à-terre that embodies the charm of the City of Light! And if you haven't done so yet, join us on our HHI Facebook page for all the latest information and photos!
Practice speaking French and English. Make friends, discuss interesting topics, learn about other cultures, progress in understanding and speaking, naturally and easily. Meets three times a week -- come as often as you like!
Parler Parlor will be closed for the summer.
Reopens: Saturday, September 6, 2014
Annual La Rentrée Party: Saturday, September 13, 2014
Snacks and light drinks will be served. Special offer that day only: Receive 12 sessions for the price of 10, and 24 sessions for the price of 20.