Sunday, January 12, 2014

New Yorkers and Parisians: So different, yet so alike...



So different, yet so alike
http://parisvsnyc.blogspot.com

Paris. New York. Two of the world's most visited, most exciting cities. 
Paris. New York. Everyone has an opinion about them, even if they have never been.
Parisians. New Yorkers. Everyone has an opinion about them, even if they have never met them.

This week, I saw a funny little video online, "Johnny T's New York City Tourist Tips." 

As a longtime fan of the City that Never Sleeps, I smiled often while watching it. Then I realized that many of Johnny T's travel tips could also apply to Paris, (and to other big cities around the world.) After reading the comments left by readers on nextstopmagazine.com where the video was released last December, I was sure of it.

I can explain, but first, let's watch the 4-minute clip together, shall we? Meet Johnny T, New Yorker. This hilarious puppet will teach you how to be the perfect New York City tourist...




See what I mean? Johnny T, it is obvious, loves his city. And he claims he loves tourists too, hence the travel tips, so everyone gets along. Video (and article) highlights:


1. Johnny T. is a frog, dressed in a red track suit. 

Johnny T.'s Parisian cousin would be a green frog named Jean, and he would wear an Agnès B. grey suit, accessorized with a Pierre Cardin man bag.


2. Johnny T. is passionate about pizza.

He knows all the best pizza joints in New York city, past and present.

Jean knows the best boulangeries in Paris. He would not consider buying his daily baguette and croissants anywhere else.


New York vs. Paris (Vahram Muratyan)

3. Are New Yorkers rude to tourists?

Johnny T. does not think so. He claims they are nice and helpful to out of town visitors. 

In the Comment section, a reader, Bocheball adds that New Yorkers get a bad rap, and that visitors are to blame:

"Tourists ask for directions but rarely say thank you." 

Johnny T's French cousin, Jean, would concur. How many tourists approach Parisians, in the street, or in shops, without bothering to say the magical words first, "Bonjour" and later, "Merci." It is so bad sometimes, that some café owners have posted this price list outside, in an attempt to educate their customers. 


"Price list. Being polite pays off"
(old enamel sign spotted on Ebay.com)


4. Johnny T. is a nice frog, but you can see there is an air of arrogance about him. After all, he lives in the best city in the world. He does not even consider the rest of the country might not agree with him. 

In the Comment section, an argument breaks out between New Yorkers and Floridians, as they try to determine who the slowest drivers are. Later, another heated exchange happens between New Yorkers and Texans about New Yorkers exhibiting poor manners when they meet people.

Jean, the French frog, could relate. When Jean leaves the Seine river or his favorite pond in the Tuileries Gardens and heads to Southern France for his hard-earned 3-week summer vacation, he gets criticized - a lot - by other French frogs he meets outside the capital. "Parisians are the worst drivers!" "Poor Parisians, so stressed out!" "Look, that guy had to place his beach towel right next to ours when the beach is almost empty. 'Used to crowds. Must be a Parisian!


Summertime: Parisians head South!

5. Johnny T's favorite mantra: "When in New York city, move fast or get out of the way!"

New Yorkers live life in the fast lane. They walk with a purpose. You are a tourist, and you have time. They don't. In fact, Johnny T. adds: "Stay in your hotel between the hours of 4:00 to 6:00pm." -- This way, locals can handle the commute home undisturbed. 

In the Comment section, Lars E. agrees: 

"Don't stop to look around at the top of the subway stairs. 
There are 100 people coming up behind you." 

Jean, the French frog, would add that nothing is worse than being cramped in the Paris Metro by gigantic tourist backpacks (still on their owners' backs,) or by travelers who ignore the cardinal rule: Do not block the doors when they open, or you will be pushed out on the platform without mercy, even if this isn't your stop. 


Parisians trying to get home at rush hour
Tourists and flip-flops do le Metro

6. Johnny T. advises tourists to check out areas outside Manhattan. Forget the classics.  Expand your horizons. There are so many different facets to a great city like New York!

But in the Comment section, Bocheball adds: 

"I'd rather tourists stay penned in Times Square where most of you idiots go and residents avoid like the plague. The smart tourists, the few there are, are mostly European, go to the cool places, and generally act far cooler!"


Uh... Thank you for European tourists... I guess.

Jean the Parisian frog would concur. He, too, would love for tourists to venture out of downtown Paris. After all, this is a compact city, and only 2 million people live in the center. Still, Paris welcomes over 15 million visitors a year! Allez, tourists, step away from la Tour Eiffel, le Louvre, Notre Dame, or les Champs-Elysées...

The Parisian Times Square?
Crowds on the Champs-Elysées

(Nouvelobs.com)
7. I like to end a story on a happy note.

In the Comment section, Sam the Cat writes: 

"Despite the stereotypes, we are actually very fond of tourists
 and are proud to show off our city."

Jean the Parisian frog would agree. Parisians may seem rushed, and aloof, but if you get lost and ask for directions politely (don't forget to say "Bonjour" first,) you will be surprised to see how much time they take to get you back on the right track. They love their city, and want you to love it too.

It's not unusual either to see two Parisians, in full display of Gallic pride, arguing about the best way to help a stranded tourist, which is always very entertaining... 


"Where is the Eiffel Tower?"
"Behind you, ma chère !" 


So whether you visit New York or Paris, keep in mind Johnny T. and his French cousin Jean la Grenouille will be happy to help, should you get in trouble. And if you have the irrepressible urge to drag one of those heavy backpacks around, remember: "Move it, or lose it!," - oh, and stay in your hotel room from 4:00pm to 6:00pm!



Bonne visite ! A bientôt !

Special thanks to talented illustrator Vahram Muratyan who knows, and loves, Paris and New York. Do get his wonderful Paris vs. New York book if you haven't already.
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26 comments:

  1. My impression is that the French code of politesse is different from that found in American cities...Our French teacher taught us, when we go to France, to say: "Bonjour, excusez-moi, je ne veux pas vous déranger, mais où est...?" Or at the very least, "Excusez-moi, monsieur, madame...." I think the American way is to efficiently, directly just launch the question. I think both cultures value the use of "thank you." "Bocheball", above, is rude & mean by any standard of etiquette...and I must say, rush hour in the metro in any big city is stressful!

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    1. Thank you for your input. You made a good point: Codes in the US and France are very different. Many visitors have learned the lesson the hard way when they approach a French shopkeeper and ask a question without saying "Bonjour" first. All they usually get instead of an answer is: "BONJOUR, Madame/Monsieur !" -- Always fun to watch, especially since it happens among the French too. La politesse, Madame, la politesse! :-)

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  2. V- ONE OF YOUR BEST!!! LOVED IT-AND SO TRUE ON EACH POINT- Love of one's city can often blind us in so many ways-after all there is no place like home but when experiencing a new city- kindness politeness and empathy can go a long way much like a smile being universal! this goes for both the visitor and the resident!-Have a wonderful week!

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    1. Merci beaucoup g. Truer words of wisdom were never spoken. Amen mon amid.

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  3. Dearest Véronique,
    Loved the most the sign about 'La Politesse'; it indeed pays off big for being polite all the time. I've witnessed this too often in foreign countries where people got literally ripped off for lack of politeness!
    Guess this does apply to each city you travel to. Loved the Frog's advice for not wearing the t-shirt I Love New York; that acts like a target board!
    Enjoy your week ahead.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Thank you for stopping by Mariette.
      That sign is funny, but it could be argued it applies to café owners (and some waiters) at times…
      The frog is a hoot. I love that "Italian Stallion" :-)

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  4. You and "Vagagonde" found common ground about Paris. Funny Post Veronique!

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    1. Thank you for the tip, Nadège. I will head over to Vagabonde's!

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  5. Le Bobo (celui qui n'achète pas sa baguette chez le boulanger mais du pain complet dans sa "Biocoop", ne prends pas le métro mais circule à vélo, bois du thé vert et passe ses vacances sous une yourte) est une espèce en voie de disparition, maintenant place au "Bomo" (bourgeois moche) qui refuse les modes et les codes esthétiques : La revanche du moche

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    1. Quelle bonne histoire, Alain, merci. Je n'avais pas encore entendu parler du "Bomo" dans ma campagne américaine reculée. Le site internet est excellent lui aussi. N'hésitez pas à partager d'autres observations. Je suis preneuse ! Bonne journée !

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  6. Excellent analysis. My experience in Paris is that if you stand on a street corner with an open map, after only a few minutes, a Parisian will stop to offer directions... and often in English.

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    1. I would agree with you Stuart, as do many students of mine when they return from France. I am always glad to hear those stories about "helpful" Parisians. They often get such a bad rap!

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  7. This was entertaining and informative!! Love it!!

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  8. Very funny and, well, true! Since I am looking forward to being a tourist in Paris in about a week, I'm take all Jean's advice very seriously! Have a lovely week, Veronique. XOXO

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    1. Bonjour Jeanne. Have an excellent trip to Paris if you have not left already. I can't wait to see your photos and illustrations… Enjoy!

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  9. Eternel débat entre touristes et indigènes, degrés de politesse reçus ou perçus, modes de vie différents..
    On est toujours le touriste de quelqu'un à un moment ou à un autre de sa vie.
    Alors , faisons simple ,et restons tous ouverts et courtois.
    Et entre NY et Paris, je choisis Londres ! ;o)
    Bises et bonne semaine!
    PS le café à 2,5 euros, même avec la politesse, c'est sacrément cher!

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    1. Très juste, Marie, très juste. Entre New York et Paris, surtout pour vivre, je choisirais probablement Londres moi aussi, au moins pour un moment. Pour le tourisme, alors une des trois. Elles ont chacune un charme et un intérêt bien particulier!
      Et tu as raison pour le prix du café: Pas donné, donné, mais il faut bien amortir le coût du beau panneau émaillé. :-) Bisous

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  10. I love the sign about the coffee (cheaper if you are polite), well even with the polite Australians, coffee costs an arm and a leg here! ($5 upwards). I have visited both cities, but Paris is my favourite, even though I can't say I found the French that polite, certainly no one came to my rescue when I was stranded in an underground station when there was something wrong with the train, and I spoke to various people in English and they just mumbled and ran off in various directions....of course in the end I got on a bus, but got off on the wrong station and missed my flight! I keep on telling myself I need to re-learn French!

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    1. So sorry Parisians did not come to your rescue, Sami. Good thing you still enjoyed Paris... Jean la Grenouille would not be pleased! :-)

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  11. Bonne Année, Véronique. A little belated but I've been away again (escaping the UK storms!). Wishing you happiness, good health and success in 2014. Happy Birthday to your blog too. The Paris vs New York book is one I intended buying a while ago as I came across it on Vahram's blog some time ago and I think you have mentioned it before here too. I must order it!! I enjoyed all your lighthearted comparisons and the video too. An entertaining post and I especially liked the price list sign. When in France I enjoy the greetings as you soon as you enter a shop which doesn't always happen in England!

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    1. Great to hear from you as always, miss b. Thank you for your visit.
      Escaping winter blues in sunnier climates is a wonderful idea. Wish I could do the same!
      Greetings are a big deal in France, and that is a good thing. Then again, Parisians can be moody, as demonstrated in the previous comment. Nobody's perfect I guess.

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    2. Hi Véronique! Thank you very much for popping over today. I always appreciate your visits and like to hear your opinion. I must say I agree with you. All things French in the Dubai heat is just perfect for me too. As for your post, I remember reading parts 6 and 7 about ending a story on a happy note. Sometimes I think that these blogs have a mind of their own! Without warning strange things happen.

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    3. Thank you for the quick reply, miss b. Blogger… I tell you: One day, I will have a heart attack: When I looked at the blog this morning, half the text was missing… Yikes. This blog definitely has a mind of its own-- and why should I be surprised? It is a FRENCH blog after all :-) Bonne fin de semaine.

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  12. No doubt that travelling in France is not easy. There is a lots of Crowd in France trains. Some days ago my Friends visited France they told me all the condition about France so now i have decided to Book a car whenever i will visit to France.

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  13. Bonjour de Montréal, Véronique. On trouve d'excellents bagels et des baguettes de première qualité ici. Malheureusement, cet hiver, nous avons également trop de maudite neige. Normalement, moi aussi je voyage à vélo, mais avec cette neige de merde, le métro, le bus et la marche. Je laisse le vélo hivernal aux plus jeunes.

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Bonjour! I love hearing from you, my readers. To quote a fellow blogger, my friend Owen, "Comments are the icing on blogcake... Comments are the UFO in the twilight sky bearing news from other planets... Comments are raspberry vinegar in salad dressing... Comments are the cool balm of after-sun moisturizing lotion... Comments are the moment the band comes back out onstage to play an encore... Comments are the gleam in the eye across the room in a smoky bar... Comments are the rainbow after the rainstorm..." Merci for your comments! French Girl in Seattle