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Of course ‘Paris syndrome’ is real – the charmless, underwhelming French capital fails to live up to the hype

Simon Calder’s Travel

I would like to admit something: I have a nostalgia problem. It stems from my childhood. Growing up in South Wales, the cities described in the books and cinema I romanticised, were as central to my adolescence as the events of my actual life. Attempting to emulate my heroes’ experiences of the world is why I’ve been left feeling destined to be in the right place at the wrong time – disappointed by the reality of what these cities had become, or never were.

Paris represents the apotheosis of this disappointment – there’s a reason that the city gives its name to a physical and psychological syndrome caused by severe culture shock.

Ernest Hemingway’s 1964 memoir, A Moveable Feast, recalling his time as a struggling writer in the French capital during the 1920s, was the template of a life to which I aspired: a veritable richness of culture in the most beautiful city in the world, surrounded by the greatest artists of the twentieth century.

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To say that Paris did not meet those lofty expectations is best encapsulated by how Café de Flore, the restaurant that Hemingway waxes so lyrically about, has become the Angus Steakhouse of Parisian tourist traps. It’s a place to nurse a burnt café crème, surrounded by bum-bag wearing tourists taking photos of the least appetising omelettes ever committed to a plate.

Far be it from me to prescribe how to holiday; perhaps you like the ambience of boorish waiters, barely masking their contempt at having to serve decaf oat milk Americanos to a clientele eager to know where Hemingway sat – but with almost nil chance of ever reading one of his books. If people-watching is your thing, you have a prime view of Louis Vuitton’s flagship store, and the comings and goings of oil-barons’ nephews (and the women who pretend to adore them).

Kris Pathirana spending time in Paris


If you thought it safe to seek refuge at Shakespeare and Company, the iconic bookstore of the Lost Generation, think again. You will find a 30-deep line of millennials waiting to take a selfie in front of the store sign. Montmartre is little better. The once revered artists’ district is now a hollow husk of cartoonists peddling caricatures that would not look out of place at a funfair in Peterborough. Could these really be the same streets that Jean-Paul Sartre walked, wondering…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at The Independent Travel…