France as I See it

Re-bonjour (Hello again! )

For those of you who have been following my adventures, you know it’s been a hectic few months since I relocated to France after living in Seattle for 23 years. Over the last 4.5 months, I have handled endless relocation-related administrative steps; found a place to live; started a new professional chapter as a France-based Rick Steves Europe tour guide. There has not been much time for writing, even if I have stayed in touch by sharing daily musings on the French Girl in Seattle Facebook page. On a short break from work, I’ve decided it’s time to dust off the old keyboard and share some stories again! Not just any stories, mind you.

Big, bad overtourism

Everyone is writing about it: As I look around in Paris and other popular locales where I have been guiding American travelers in my homeland, I see it. Overtourism seems to have become a thing. Some locations in France and in Europe are bursting at the seams, especially in peak travel season. This is a complex issue, yet it’s become obvious social media share some of the responsibility. Everyone who is someone on Instagram (and even those who aren’t) have been guilty, at some point or another, willingly or not, of misrepresenting their travels or daily lives in popular destinations many crave to explore, therefore inducing more and more people to follow in their footsteps to get their slice of travel heaven. We all frame our shots, so only the pretty side of things shows. Who doesn’t like pretty? Besides, life is always perfect on Instagram or on Facebook, n’est-ce-pas? Enthusiasm is definitely there. So is entitlement linked to tourism dollars. What’s often lacking, especially in social media, is education, context, and, as a result, respect for other cultures.

France as I See it: Snippets of my new French life

Introducing France as I See it, a new series by French Girl in Seattle Takes France. In these stories, I will share sur le vif (on the spot) observations on daily life in Paris and the rest of France. They may be very short, or a few paragraphs long. As always, I will write humorously, yet candidly and honestly, with one goal in mind, to continue educating readers about the real France. You may not always agree with me, and that’s all right. I welcome a healthy, respectful debate, yet am not looking for a consensus. Opinions shared on this website are mine only. Warning (to those of you who are new here:) I was educated in the French public school system; you can expect a critical and analytical take on things. You can expect me to be direct too.

The first story in this new series is scheduled tomorrow. I hope you enjoy it. As always, I will be very interested in reading your comments and chatting with you. Merci.

A bientôt.

Instagram-worthy shot (except this is a real afternoon ritual for me when I am at home in Paris.)

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What did you think about this article? Let me know in the comment section below, (I love reading your messages and reply to most.) Don’t be selfish and share with a friend! Merci. Véronique (French Girl in Seattle)

8 Comments

  • Bonjour!
    This is my time reading your blog (I follow you on instagram) and I am looking forward to more! I completely agree with you about how social media is shaping the way we see things (often times erroneously). For example, I am a native Californian and every time I would go back to visit, things looked like the picture perfect life no matter what might really have been taking place . A few shots from Newport Beach made a trip where we were out due to the failing health of my mother among other things proved this.
    I love going to Paris—- my husband and I love the culture and the people, but realize we are also guests in another culture. My favorite thing about going to Paris is the opportunity to have conversations with the Parisians when we can (in my floundering French). We have found the French culture to be gracious, intelligent and frank, and we look forward to delving more into the culture of this beautiful country.
    Looking forward to reading more of your blogs!

  • There were fewer than 5 billion people on the planet the first time I visited Europe. Today there are 7.7 billion. At the same time, the global middle class has exploded and, in spite of population growth, there are fewer poor people than ever before. So it’s no surprise that it feels like there are too many tourists. More people total, and more of them who can afford to travel.
    The thing about social media is that people are encouraged to proudly display their own cultural baggage around rather than being polite, sensitive and ready to learn about foreign places. Without real cultural exchange, what is the point of travel? It seems to have been reduced to a race for selfies.

    • Bonjour Catherine. You make excellent points. In many ways, travel has become more accessible. Unfortunately, only a minority of travelers seem to be willing to learn more about the culture they are about to visit before the trip. They are the ones who will prepare, either by learning a few expressions in the local language, or by reading about history and locations. I suspect very little quality “education” is shared by travel organizations as well, who mass market their products. As a result, people come, see, and conquer, “ticking things off their list” instead of truly immersing themselves in the local culture and are oblivious to it. It’s a shame. As for social media, it seems to bring out the narcissistic fiber in many people. Again, what a shame. A bientôt.

  • “You can expect me to be direct too.” Now I miss you even more!! And your view!! I used to dream of that view and I remember your words to me… I’m terribly envious mon amie!! Bis

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