Come to Europe

Boing Boing mentions these tips for American tourists who visit Europe and who don't want to get hassled by Europeans disgusted with the Bush administrations push for war. Here is my take if they are visiting France:

Avoid American fast-food restaurants and chains.

This is a no-brainer. There are good American restaurants here (not exactly fast-food or chains), but coming to France to eat American food is basically missing half the pleasure.

Keep discussions of politics to private places, not rowdy bars.

Unless you are rude, loudy (see below) or Donald Rumsfeld ranting on France, you are pretty safe, even in bars.

Take a rain check on wearing clothes featuring American flags or sports team logos.

Surely that will uncover you in a glitch (just avoid things like "I vote for Bush"). But the accessories that help us identify Americans is usually their sport shoes and how they mismatch them with anything. Don't wear white or flashy sport shoes with an otherwise classical outfit, especially if you are a woman.

Oh, and nobody will throw you to jail because of a peace T-shirt!

Keep your passport out of sight.

Because you are normally waving it at all times?

Keep cameras, video equipment and maps tucked away.

I don't get that one, but that's because I'm a parisian. We have millions of tourists doing that 365 days a year here, nothing that would put them in jeopardy.

Soften your speech; Americans typically overshadow their hosts in the volume department.

This one is a good one, but has nothing to do with Bush. You know that your dinner at the restaurant will be ruined when just one table is filled with more than four American tourists, because you won't hear yourself eat.

According to Le Journal du dimanche and reported by Tom Fox, 76% of the French like the Americans, regardless of their own position on war. I disagree with Tom on one thing: if 17% don't like Americans, it doesn't mean they hate them, and the French still draw a line between the American people and their government (manichean interpretations of those kind of polls are dangerous).

Come over and pay us a visit. You may discover that Europe is actually a very nice place to live and where peace and respect of other cultures are building blocks of the EU.

1 Comment

Bonjour et greetings: I am an American living in Switzerland. A friend of mine is a published writer. He is looking EVERYWHERE for information on Parisian jails. Do you have any ideas?

He would like information about simple jails -- the kind you might go to if you are drunk -- not maximum security.

Questions would be, for example: do French jails have perfumed soap? Or are they Genet-type places -- scary and frightening?

Perhaps you or one of your colleagues has spent a night in a Parisian jail? Or you might know someone who has?

I would be very grateful for your help. The police haven't answered any queries and the culture ministry has also not been too much help.

Thank you for any ideas you might have. All the best,

Alice Ratcliffe

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