It’s strange to write an article like this.
Since when is Paris a place that needs to advertise? It’s one of the world’s top tourism destinations. However, 2015 was a shocker of a year for France, and understandably lots of people have delayed or cancelled their Paris trips.
I have called this city my home for about 4.5 years now, and I’ve worked as a tour guide for a lot of that time so I thought I’d throw my two cents in.
Here are my top five reasons for why you should come to Paris now.
It is safe
At least, as safe as anywhere else. It’s hard to imagine how a city is looking and feeling when you aren’t there. So does Paris feel different now? No, not really. There are a few more soldiers around, security as you enter public buildings etc is a bit more attentive and if you eavesdrop on conversations you notice that the topic comes up often, but at first glance the city appears to be behaving exactly as normal. If you have never been here before, you probably wouldn’t even notice the difference.
Directly after the attacks, one of the things that helped me feel ‘normal’ again was switching off the news and actually getting outside and walking around. I realised very quickly that life was still going on. People were in cafés, kids were playing in parks, museums were busy, restaurants were welcoming.
If you come for a holiday in Paris, you won’t be entering a war zone. You won’t be expected to duck and cover. You don’t need to wear Kevlar vests or learn certain codes or emergency procedures. The girls at the Moulin Rouge are can-can-ing, the gargoyles at the Notre Dame are gargling and the waiters are already back to being rude.
Obviously I’m not a security expert, nor can I predict the future. We live in uncertain times, and the nature of terrorism is that it is random. It could happen anywhere, at any time. So that leaves us with a hard decision to make: given how little information we have, we cannot really take useful preventative action. So should we alter our lives and stay at home, or continue on as normal, accepting the risks?
I say go for it.
Paris is awesome in winter
For a bunch of different reasons. There are way less tourists around, and the tourists that are here are usually more experienced travelers and made of sterner stuff than the Summer wussies (no offence to any summer wussies) which means a more civilized experience in general.
If you think about what things Paris is most famous for: namely Food and Culture, then you’ll realise that enjoying these things doesn’t depend on the weather at all. The museums are warm, cosy and quiet so you can actually take stock and enjoy them. Restaurants are also warm and cosy, and you have a spectacular excuse to drink mulled wine, eat rich duck confit and go to Angelina’s for one of their famous hot chocolates and get it without lining up for an hour.
On top of all of that, we get stunning, clear crisp light here in winter, and if you’re really lucky, it will snow.
We need you
The total contribution of travel and tourism represents 9.7% of GDP and supports 2.9 million jobs (10.9% of employment) in the country.
In 2012 18.4 percent of salaried workers in the city of Paris were engaged in tourism-related sectors.
In 2014, the tax revenue from the tourism tax in Paris represented €41.2M.
So you could say that we’ve become accustomed to a certain style of living. Of course, the winter time is a traditionally leaner season when it comes to tourism, but everywhere is feeling it harder than usual.
So it follows...
You can get sweet deals
If nothing else will convince you, then the prospect of saving money might. The fact is, with visitor numbers down, the hotel and tourism sector is hurting and that puts you in a great position to get even better deals on hotels and visiting sites.
Maybe it’s time to schedule that dream Paris trip you’ve always thought was too expensive?
And finally… we appreciate it
A friend of mine who is also a tour guide told me that people had been asking his company if they should come to the city, not because they were concerned about security but because they thought it might have been insensitive to have a fun holiday in a city that is dealing with a tragedy.
Is it insensitive? Not at all. The sight of tourists in Paris right now warms my heart.
I recently gave a private tour to a woman from California. I asked her if she’d considered cancelling her trip. “Not even for a second. I think the best way to support a place that has experienced something like Paris has, is to visit it”. I couldn’t agree more.
Please come. It’s so important that we make good and happy memories of this beautiful city. The awful events that Paris suffered in 2015 are only one story among many, many others.
Don’t let the bad guys write the narrative.