|So different, yet so alike
Paris. New York. Two of the world’s most visited, most exciting cities.
Paris. New York. Everyone has an opinion about them, even if they have never been.
Parisians. New Yorkers. Everyone has an opinion about them, even if they have never met them.
This week, I saw a funny little video online, “Johnny T’s New York City Tourist Tips.”
As a longtime fan of the City that Never Sleeps, I smiled often while watching it. Then I realized that many of Johnny T‘s travel tips could also apply to Paris, (and to other big cities around the world.) After reading the comments left by readers on nextstopmagazine.com where the video was released last December, I was sure of it.
I can explain, but first, let’s watch the 4-minute clip together, shall we? Meet Johnny T, New Yorker. This hilarious puppet will teach you how to be the perfect New York City tourist…
See what I mean? Johnny T, it is obvious, loves his city. And he claims he loves tourists too, hence the travel tips, so everyone gets along. Video (and article) highlights:
1. Johnny T. is a frog, dressed in a red track suit.
Johnny T.’s Parisian cousin would be a green frog named Jean, and he would wear an Agnès B. grey suit, accessorized with a Pierre Cardin man bag.
2. Johnny T. is passionate about pizza.
He knows all the best pizza joints in New York city, past and present.
Jean knows the best boulangeries in Paris. He would not consider buying his daily baguette and croissants anywhere else.
|New York vs. Paris (Vahram Muratyan)|
3. Are New Yorkers rude to tourists?
Johnny T. does not think so. He claims they are nice and helpful to out of town visitors.
In the Comment section, a reader, Bocheball adds that New Yorkers get a bad rap, and that visitors are to blame:
“Tourists ask for directions but rarely say thank you.”
Johnny T‘s French cousin, Jean, would concur. How many tourists approach Parisians, in the street, or in shops, without bothering to say the magical words first, “Bonjour” and later, “Merci.” It is so bad sometimes, that some café owners have posted this price list outside, in an attempt to educate their customers.
|“Price list. Being polite pays off”
(old enamel sign spotted on Ebay.com)
4. Johnny T. is a nice frog, but you can see there is an air of arrogance about him. After all, he lives in the best city in the world. He does not even consider the rest of the country might not agree with him.
In the Comment section, an argument breaks out between New Yorkers and Floridians, as they try to determine who the slowest drivers are. Later, another heated exchange happens between New Yorkers and Texans about New Yorkers exhibiting poor manners when they meet people.
Jean, the French frog, could relate. When Jean leaves the Seine river or his favorite pond in the Tuileries Gardens and heads to Southern France for his hard-earned 3-week summer vacation, he gets criticized – a lot – by other French frogs he meets outside the capital. “Parisians are the worst drivers!” “Poor Parisians, so stressed out!” “Look, that guy had to place his beach towel right next to ours when the beach is almost empty. ‘Used to crowds. Must be a Parisian!”
|Summertime: Parisians head South!|
5. Johnny T’s favorite mantra: “When in New York city, move fast or get out of the way!”
New Yorkers live life in the fast lane. They walk with a purpose. You are a tourist, and you have time. They don’t. In fact, Johnny T. adds: “Stay in your hotel between the hours of 4:00 to 6:00pm.” — This way, locals can handle the commute home undisturbed.
In the Comment section, Lars E. agrees:
“Don’t stop to look around at the top of the subway stairs.
There are 100 people coming up behind you.”
Jean, the French frog, would add that nothing is worse than being cramped in the Paris Metro by gigantic tourist backpacks (still on their owners’ backs,) or by travelers who ignore the cardinal rule: Do not block the doors when they open, or you will be pushed out on the platform without mercy, even if this isn’t your stop.
|Parisians trying to get home at rush hour|
|Tourists and flip-flops do le Metro|
6. Johnny T. advises tourists to check out areas outside Manhattan. Forget the classics. Expand your horizons. There are so many different facets to a great city like New York!
But in the Comment section, Bocheball adds:
“I’d rather tourists stay penned in Times Square where most of you idiots go and residents avoid like the plague. The smart tourists, the few there are, are mostly European, go to the cool places, and generally act far cooler!”
Uh… Thank you for European tourists… I guess.
Jean the Parisian frog would concur. He, too, would love for tourists to venture out of downtown Paris. After all, this is a compact city, and only 2 million people live in the center. Still, Paris welcomes over 15 million visitors a year! Allez, tourists, step away from la Tour Eiffel, le Louvre, Notre Dame, or les Champs-Elysées…
|The Parisian Times Square?
Crowds on the Champs-Elysées
7. I like to end a story on a happy note.
In the Comment section, Sam the Cat writes:
“Despite the stereotypes, we are actually very fond of tourists
and are proud to show off our city.”
Jean the Parisian frog would agree. Parisians may seem rushed, and aloof, but if you get lost and ask for directions politely (don’t forget to say “Bonjour” first,) you will be surprised to see how much time they take to get you back on the right track. They love their city, and want you to love it too.
It’s not unusual either to see two Parisians, in full display of Gallic pride, arguing about the best way to help a stranded tourist, which is always very entertaining…
|“Where is the Eiffel Tower?”
“Behind you, ma chère !”
So whether you visit New York or Paris, keep in mind Johnny T. and his French cousin Jean la Grenouille will be happy to help, should you get in trouble. And if you have the irrepressible urge to drag one of those heavy backpacks around, remember: “Move it, or lose it!,” – oh, and stay in your hotel room from 4:00pm to 6:00pm!
Bonne visite ! A bientôt !
Special thanks to talented illustrator Vahram Muratyan who knows, and loves, Paris and New York. Do get his wonderful Paris vs. New York book if you haven’t already.