If I had to venture a guess, I’d say that if you are planning to study abroad in Paris, your expectations are engulfed by thoughts of laying under the Eiffel Tower, strolls down the Seine river overlooking Notre Dame, Shopping down the Champs Elysees until you’re broke (which won’t take long), Baguettes, Romance, and being surrounded by some of the greatest works of Art found in the world… It’s practically living in a Disney Land. And it’s true, you can and will have everything I just listed, but it’s important to know what it’s not as well. It’s not an artificial Disney Land. It’s the center of the world according to the French, much like New York is the center of the world According to Americans… well, New Yorkers.
And if you were going to showcase New York City to somebody new, you would probably show them all the sights and wonders of the Big Apple that we’ve all grown tiresome of before you show them Bed-Stuy Brooklyn or Jamaica Queens.
The video above I wanted to show you is a rather harsh reminder that before you fall all over everything there is to fall all over for in the City of Romance, Paris is a real urban city with real urban city issues…. and if there’s one place you may want to skip in your plans to scour the city, it’s the suburbs. If you think the NYPD may have tough times in certain parts of Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx (or vice versa depending on which side of the fence you’re on) then you should talk to a French police officer about the 2005 riots in which 126 Police and Firefighters were injured in 20 nights of violence. And then it repeated again in 2007 after 2 kids were killed after being struck by a speeding police car. Tensions between the police and the communities in the subs are so high that police presence is far more dangerous to the officers safety then it is a typical NYPD officer patrolling a “impact zone” in NYC. Less police presence in these parts of Paris usually mean less overall unrest in these areas as well. I definitely recommend taking a look at the video as it gives a great account for why there are so many problems between the French government and the immigrant/no-so immigrant communities that live in these decaying, forgotten suburbs (There, gave some of it away right up front) that surround the city of Cafe’s, Lights, Love, and whatever other cliche you can think of. Be warned however, it runs a little over 20 minutes, but if one really wants to learn about EVERYthing Paris, then I’d call it a must watch.
I however am done scaring you away from my home away from home. My purpose was just to give a little shock value, especially when you expect a blog about going to Paris to be jammed to death with nothing but where this cafe spot is, or where that gallery is, or how about those crepes?? I want you to know, again, that among all it’s greatness, Paris is a city just like any other. There is plenty of things to see and do that tourist love, but the city itself is not one giant tourist attraction. There’s crime. homelessness. ghettos. corruption. And anything else you can think of that would describe a major city in any well developed country. There’s people that love American’s, and people that do not. It’s what makes Paris real, and if you can respect all of it’s flaws, you will have an unforgettable time. In all the good ways, of course.