Friday, May 14, 2010

Have You Noticed We Seem To Have A Global Obsession With Paris?

I have read the phrase "_________ is the Paris of the __(insert non-European continent or non-French European region)__" so many times, that I feel it's time to write about it...

Why has Paris made such a big impression? There's Shanghai, the Paris of the Orient, Buenos Aires, the Paris of South America, Beirut (Lebanon), Paris of the Middle East, New Orleans, Paris of the USA, Plovdiv (Bulgaria), the Paris of the Balkans, Riga (Latvia), Paris of the Baltics... and that's just the ones I've heard of!

Is it because Paris is one of those cities that almost every well-travelled person has been to? People from all over the world make it their top priority to visit 'The City of Lights', making it one of the most popular destination in the world. Paris' reputation as one of the most influential cities in the world due to its cultural, historical, economic and political power is then reinforced, so perhaps it's not surprising that it informs how people theorise about their local regions to such an extent.

I do think people shouldn't automatically flock to Paris and select more challenging locations in general... maybe them we would have an abundance of creative comparisons! I want to see 'Vancouver is the Sydney of Canada' or 'Phnom Penh is the Sofia of Asia'!

Perhaps this obsession with Parisian qualities also come from the Eurocentric/Anglophone bias of travel writers? After all, I've never heard of someone deem Paris the Beirut of Europe... What do you think? What other interesting travel comparisons have you come across, and have you made any original ones of your own?

1 comment:

  1. I just thought of a cool name for this phenomenon: Parisian Eye For The Global Guy (or Girl)