T-minus 2 weeks and counting before Paris – getting so very excited about the prospect of getting away from it all again! Ahhhh.
I’m so looking forward to just appreciating Paris for what it is. A fashion, art & creative capital with beautiful sights, crazy drivers and snooty but fabulous fashionistas.
I love the idealised view of France’s capital being the romance capital of the world and I do love to imagine it being just like Paris When It Sizzles a la Audrey Hepburn – but I know it’s not. It will be very similar to London in many ways – with it’s gorgeous iconic bits and it’s not so nice areas. Like any city really.
But as a result of my Parisian daydreaming, I have started reading a lot about Paris Syndrome and I’m just fascinated. In case you don’t know, Paris Syndrome is a common ‘illness’ found mainly in Japanese tourists, after they arrive and realise the city doesn’t quite live up to the romantic notion they so strongly believed in.
Coming from a polite and more helpful society, to suddenly be confronted with quite the opposite certainly can be a shock to the system.
Caroline Wyatt, news correspondent for BBC Paris, commented: “For the Japanese, [who are] used to a more polite and helpful society in which voices are rarely raised in anger – the experience of their dream city turning into a nightmare can simply be too much.”
Psychologists describe the condition as a ‘transient psychological disorder’ which can result in a number of psychiatric symptoms such as acute delusional states, hallucinations, feelings of persecution (perceptions of being a victim of prejudice, aggression, or hostility from others), derealization, depersonalization, anxiety, and also psychosomatic manifestations such as dizziness, tachycardia and sweating. Crazy huh?
Language barriers of course can cause problems of isolation, cultural differences can cause bewilderment and French etiquette it seems to be in a whole league of its own.
Caroline explains in her BBC article ‘Mastering French manners the hard way’ that there really are some serious faux-pas to be avoided. “Wishing someone bon appetit is seen as very vulgar in polite circles…And apparently in France it’s good manners to keep your elbows ON the table, and your hands visible.
“Never down your drink in one” or “don’t put your bust in your plate” (!!) and “never make noises of satisfaction at the dinner table.” Oops. Who knew eh? Certainly not me (or poor Caroline for that matter).
With all these rules and differences I can understand how the Japanese must feel, I can definitely see how it the reality of a city like Paris can have that effect on you. I am too, caught up in the pull of the Parisian fantasy – that’s the whole reason I want to go there. The fashion, the romance, the dreamy Eiffel Tower-infused photography possibilities. I get it. But I don’t think I would get disappointed to that extent because wherever I go, I don’t expect perfection. I like the quirky ways of individual places – I think that’s what it’s all about! I understand that any city, any place, has its flaws, its dodgy places, its rude people – it’s just the way it is.
It doesn’t mean I don’t have grand ideas about the places I visit, I definitely have grand ideas about being in India and S. E Asia next year. I can see myself in front of the Taj Mahal and Ankor Wat temple in Cambodia and just feeling this incredible spiritual rush. But will being in front of these buildings really change me? Have a spiritual effect on me? In reality, I highly doubt it – but in reality, I’m ok with that. It’s still going to be an amazing experience eh?
Roll on 2012!
Love Em xoxo