Whenever I mentioned I was spending a week in Paris this summer, the listener’s eyes lit up, a smile would follow, and there was a trace of envy. After all, Paris has been romanticized by so many, including the great artists and writers who lived there. Oscar Wilde said, “When good Americans die, they go to Paris.” Songwriter Cole Porter wrote, “I love Paris in the summer, when it sizzles.” “I felt that Paris was illuminated by a splendor possessed by no other places,” wrote Isak Dinesen. And who could forget Humphrey Bogart’s immortal romantic line, “We’ll always have Paris,” in the classic film Casablanca?
Even though I had a short visit to Paris five years ago, I became curious and concerned about the hype regarding this city. After all, we’ve all visited someplace or seen something that people rave about, only to be disappointed because our expectations were raised so high. (For me it was seeing Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, which happened to take place in Paris. Meh!).
When public relations people “hype” their clients’ accomplishments or products, the only time it can be justified is when reality meets expectations. Well, I’m back from France to say that Paris passed the “hype” test. For me, it met or exceeded the expectations that had been raised. From the Louvre to Notre Dame, from Montmarte to Versailles, from a boat ride on the Seine to the great food, wine, and coffee, the city is positively overwhelming in its scope, colorful history and splendid beauty.
Paris, of course, is also a crowded city with traffic and subways and crime. But as a tourist, I appreciated and was awed by many of the wonderful experiences the city has to offer.
Hype without results or good performance is merely hype. But just about everything I had been told about Paris turned out to be true. Now I’ll smile and be envious the next time someone tells me they’re going to Paris. Your thoughts?