Destination: France

From Paris to New York—in 1906

Conor Friedersdorf digs up an old gem from the Atlantic’s archives: a dispatch from a native New Yorker, returning to the city after an extended stay in Paris. It’s a must-read for NYC-philes. Here’s a taste:

In a word, this returned New Yorker finds few familiar landmarks; and the few he does find seem to have lost most of their original meaning. He is as much dazed and puzzled by his surroundings as Rip Van Winkle after his twenty years’ sleep. Nobody resides, does business, dines, or drinks in the same places as before. Nobody frequents the same pleasure resorts. Nobody saunters along the same walks. It is not safe for him to make a business or social call, or to set out for a restaurant, a chop-house, a theatre, or a club, without consulting the Directory in advance; and, even so, he risks having his trouble for his pains, inasmuch as there is more than a chance that a move has been made since the Directory was issued.

After he so far recovers from the shock of his initial disenchantment, however, as to be able to take note of details, he finds that there is some balm in Gilead, after all. At the end of a month he begins to catch the spirit of New York; and at the end of six months he has come completely under its spell, and loves it, as Montaigne loved the Paris of his day, “with all its moles and warts.” The radiant white city by the Seine still appears to him at intervals, like the memory of a favorite picture or poem; but it has lost the power to disquiet him with desire. Paris is no longer a perpetual obsession,—the absolute norm by which he judges everything he sees. Indeed, it has passed so far out of his life that he is in danger of being as over-lenient in his judgments as he was at the outset over-severe.

Missing Paris

Missing Paris iStockPhoto

Nancy Kline grieves for a city that no longer belongs to her

Read More »

Tags: Home, Europe, France, Paris

World Travel Watch: Flesh Fines in France, Medical Tourism Risks in South Asia and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

Read More »

Chinese Developers to Recreate Salvador Dalí‘s Hometown

Xiamen Bay is the new Costa Brava! From the Guardian:

Sources at the company said they had found a spot that was geographically similar to Cadaqués, with its gently sloping hills and protected bay. “Building work will start in September or October,” a spokesman said.

More than 100 acres of land will be used to build a near replica with a capacity to house some 15,000 Chinese holidaymakers who want to enjoy the Costa Brava experience without having to travel 6,500 miles.

The Chinese version will not have the sparkling Mediterranean, the madness-inducing Tramontana wind or as many jellyfish as Cadaqués, but the promoters say they will try to get as close to possible to the real thing.

The developers are following in the footsteps of Lyon in the desert and Thames Town outside of Shanghai, among other places.

Dali would surely approve. As the Guardian notes, “One of his favourite money-making habits was to sign, and sell-off, blank sheets of paper for prints and lithographs. As a result, he is one of the most frequently copied and forged artists in the world.”

Victory at the Louvre

Erin Byrne never let her mask slip, until a headless, armless Greek statue taught her a lesson she couldn't ignore

Read More »

Tourists in Heat

Tourists in Heat iStockPhoto

Ten tips for how to stay cool while traveling in an increasingly hot planet. (#2: Choose countries with cold soup.)

Read More »

World Travel Watch: Violence in Guadalajara, Dengue Fever in Puerto Rico and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

Read More »

‘It’s a Kind of Magic Place. You Go in One Door, You Go Out Another.’

Those are the words of 11-year-old Adrien Venturi, an aficionado of the Paris Metro. He’s one of the sources for NPR’s lovely look at the system. “To ride it,” says Jacki Lyden, “is a visual carnival, a living history, an urban love story about the chemin de fer.”

Paris: Pedestrianizing the Seine?

Good news for fans of dreamy riverside strolls: Paris city councilors will vote next month on a vehicle ban along the Left Bank. The ban would apply to a mile-plus stretch of riverside real estate, from roughly the Musee d’Orsay to the Eiffel Tower, and according to This Just in, “[p]ermanent foot and cycle paths ... 35 acres of new cafés, parks, sports facilities, and floating islands” would also be part of the package.

Confessions of a Focus Group Traveler

Confessions of a Focus Group Traveler iStockPhoto

When LiAnne Yu visits other countries, she watches people from behind a one-way mirror. She now knows which cultures prefer jeans that accentuate curvy butts.

Read More »

Seven Breakfasts Every World Traveler Must Eat

Seven Breakfasts Every World Traveler Must Eat iStockPhoto

Petit dejeuner, frühstück, desayuno -- call it what you will. Terry Ward dishes on some of the world's great breakfasts.

See the full photo slideshow »

‘The Future of the French Language is Now in Africa’

The New York Times has a fascinating piece on the globalization of French as a language—and, as the language diverges from its home nation, what that means for French culture. Michael Kimmelman outlines the battle between France’s cultural traditionalists and the immigrants and foreign French speakers who have adopted the language, but not necessarily the culture that has historically come with it. He writes:

French is now spoken mostly by people who aren’t French. More than 50 percent of them are African. French speakers are more likely to be Haitians and Canadians, Algerians and Senegalese, immigrants from Africa and Southeast Asia and the Caribbean who have settled in France, bringing their native cultures with them.

Which raises the question: So what does French culture signify these days when there are some 200 million French speakers in the world but only 65 million are actually French? Culture in general—and not just French culture—has become increasingly unfixed, unstable, fragmentary and elective.

Having grown up in a bilingual school system, a ten-minute drive from the Ontario-Quebec border, I’m plenty familiar with the dilemma. I can remember, at about eleven, being told firmly by my French teacher that Frenglish was “an insult” to both languages it drew on; even then, I thought that seemed limiting.

Seeing cultural and linguistic fusion as offensive is a non-starter in this globalized world of ours. There’s some amazing food, literature and music coming out of this sort of cultural cross-fertilization, around the world. Rather than viewing themselves as “under siege,” France’s cultural authorities might be better off getting out there and seeing some of it.

Paris in 26 Gigapixels

Zoom from a cityscape right down to street level in this amazing browsable image. (Via Kottke)

Must I Get ‘Off the Beaten Path’ When I Travel?

Vagabonding traveler Rolf Potts answers your questions about travel and the world

Read More »

The First Travel Photo and the Future of Photography

Jeff Pflueger on the intersection of geography and photography

Read More »