Come Valentine’s Day, a mass exodus of eager young couples prepare to launch themselves at Paris, the most romantic city on earth. The Naive amongst them dream fancifully of weekends occupied by croissants, French fancies, mumbled exchanges of undying love, and strolls along the Seine. Sure, dream away by all means, but as soon as the jet touches down in Paris, you’ll wish it hadn’t.
Moan number one: The Eiffel Tower. A monstrous piece of architecture which appears incomplete and skeletal; the mass of iron bolts, nails and grids make it seem like a supportive framework for a construction which has yet to be built. The similarity to scaffolding is uncanny and only serves to emphasise its profound ugliness. Furthermore, the tower is primarily a marketing tool, a monument to Capitalism which annually seduces foreigners into splurging their hard earned cash. If it’s hideous by day then at night it can only be described as tacky. Transformed into a gaudy iron Christmas tree, the flashing lights are exhausting and unnecessarily extravagant. If principal alone isn’t enough to dissuade the hardiest of travellers from venturing forth, then consider the ridiculous entrance queues which rival the exodus of animals waiting to board the ark. And that’s without having mentioned altitude sickness.
Another niggling annoyance about Paris is the haughty Parisian attitudes to all foreigners, especially those who do not have native-like proficiency in French. Many Naives seem to be under the illusion that if a tourist attempts to speak a little French, an occasional Bonjour or a Merci, the Parisians will applaud the attempt with graceful smiles. You are mistaken. You will be given a glower, a quizzical and knowing raise of the brow, or simply a nonchalant shrug. This manner of behaviour also extends to customer service in restaurants, where believe it or not, it takes 17.9 minutes on average to serve the customer a glass of water. What are they doing, filling buckets from the local well? 17.9 minutes is most definitely pushing the acceptable time allocation of water-fetching past the brink of impropriety.
Furthermore, the city is infamous for its odour of drainage wafting along every street in the most persistent manner, its overpriced restaurants and cab fares that leave your wallet with a Vodka hangover; the entire Paris ideology is clichéd and staler than Stilton. It has even been medically recognised that ‘Paris Syndrome’ is a specific Parisian induced depression which grasps hold of unsuspecting tourists and is sustained by the hostility of the French towards any ‘outsider’ lacking a moustache, excellent wine-tasting abilities and a somewhat frog-inclined food palate. Symptoms include feelings of persecution, hallucinations, anxiety and psychosomatic manifestations. Still planning on jumping on that jet?
Come this Valentine’s Day, I’ll be opting for the cosy and somewhat traditional English Inn. A roaring fire, long walks in the countryside and a Sunday Roast. Au revoir Paris.