The Paris I Never Knew
January 03, 2019
I hadn’t been to Paris in probably 30 years. During my last trip, France was in the midst of a DeGaul hangover. Most Parisians exhibited at best a stand-off attitude toward Americans. Some downright hated us. Their snarky tempers were clearly evident everywhere you turned. In shops, restaurants, hotels. They had no problem taking your money, but the loathing was obvious in their glaring gestures and poor behavior.
I’m in Paris again as I write this. I’m pleased to report that the anti-American attitudes of three decades ago seem all but gone. The people here couldn’t be more friendly: from cab drivers and hotel staff (who are arguably paid to be nice,) to the folks you meet in restaurants, shops, or even on the street. The attitude toward us as Americans and tourists seems genuinely pleasant or better.
Clearly, France is a country in turmoil. In the United States, we’re confront every night on the news — street demonstrations, shuttered stores and factories, closed banks. The French are rightly reacting to decades of poor leadership. They are taxed to death — the most taxed people in the European Union. And the socialist Macron Government wants to impose more taxes. The latest round of unrest is a result of Macron’s proposal to raise taxes on working people for, of all things, global warming. Please!
And yet, from all appearances, the general attitude of the French people is one of pride and happiness. They have much to be proud of. Paris is a magnificent city (especially this time of year.) Their impressive history is on display almost everywhere you look — beautiful buildings, museums, churches, and streets testify to the remarkable resilience, strength, and hope of the French throughout the centuries.
And when it comes to Christmas at least, no city in the world out-decorates Paris. The view is spectacular.
And despite the knock France gets for its secular culture, I didn’t see much evidence of political correctness when it came to Christmas no matter how crazy that might drive French politicians like Macron.
The protests have certainly gotten out of hand and been damaging to both buildings and personal safety. Some of the French people I talked with expressed a bit of horror at the vandalism and destruction. But even those folks mostly said they’d be happy if the result were lower taxes, a stronger economy, higher pay, and less interference from the government.
One young lady told me that in job interviews the question is never how much does the job pay, it’s what will my take-home pay be? Taxes and more taxes are literally destroying the average French worker’s quality of life.
If the election were held today, I’d be surprised if Marine Le Pen (the leader of the more nationalist party) didn’t beat Macron by a landslide. But the next Presidential election is still three years away, a lifetime in politics as we well know.
Paris is now, for the first time in a very long time, one of my recommended places to visit. The protests will likely die down now that Macron has “delayed” his tax proposal. So despite the recent unrest, I’d advise that everyone come see this city of lights and visit with the French people. Your cameras will be filled with great memories and your stomachs with incredible food. And, unlike the French of decades past, they won’t any longer look down on you for being American.
John Philip Sousa IV is an entrepreneur, political activist, author and accomplished business person. John has worked in the financial services industry for over 40 years, built a highly successful marketing company, ran for congress at age 24, and in 2016 created and led the successful movement to draft Dr Ben Carson into his candidacy for President of the United States. John is author of John Philip Sousa, A Patriot’s Life in Words and Pictures and Ben Carson, RX for America.