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Today’s List: Ten Paris Observations

September 4th, 2014 · No Comments · France, Paris, tourism, Travel

It had been more than 14 months since I had been in Paris, and the city continues to change, of course. Some good changes, some bad, some neutral/just different.

Let’s look at 10, in list form.

1. More homeless people are on the streets. More than at any time since my first visit, in 1985. In some neighborhoods, you figure at least one homeless person per block, sitting against a wall or lying on a grate. Many of them begging. Paris isn’t San Francisco, but it seems headed that way.

2. Chinese now make up a significant fraction of tourists in Paris. I’m going to invent a number and say they now represent 10 percent of tourists.

3. The only “fashion statement” I could make out was a preference among women for ankle boots, priced from $60 to $300. Oh, and a proliferation of Stan Smith model Adidas tennis shoes. The blinding white ones. And Converse sneakers, among the young.

4. The city population seems younger. Maybe that was the case just in the districts we saw the most of, the Marais and the 18th arrondissement. But in both places, seeing someone over 40 was a rarity. Have the old people moved to other parts of the city? Do they just stay inside  most of the time? But cafe after cafe … twentysomethings fillings the chairs.

5. Speaking of the Marais, the “artificiality factor” continues to rise. More big-name brands, fewer local-local businesses. The Marais is pretty much done as a functioning neighborhood, but it is going great as a tourist destination.

6. The ultimate tourist haven in the city, the Champs-Elysees, remains the place locals and regular visitors avoid but newbies and Gulfies seem to love. And Pizza Pino may soon take up a city block.

7. The most underrated form of Paris transportation? City buses. Each ride costs the same as a Metro ride (about 1.60 euros), but the buses are a great way to see the city. The Metro just takes you under the city.

8. Real estate is still crazy but the overall market may have cooled, a little. Still, property in the better neighborhoods — the 7th, the 6th, the 16th, the Marais — is still going for something like 13,000 euros per square meter.

9. The next big thing in real estate? The rough/downmarket 19th arrondissement, which is being gentrified by thirtysomethings looking for a pied a terre.

10. Even with France soccer champions PSG looking powerful, again, Paris remains less apparently interested in sports than any city in the world.


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