Feature

Making peace with those vulgar tourists.

The week's news at a glance.

France

Editorial
Le Monde

Tourists get a bum rap, said Paris’ Le Monde in an editorial, especially in France, where 75 million visitors descend on 60 million locals every year. The sandal-clad, camera-bearing hordes are seen as philistines, checking off site after historic site that they simply “must” see, “yet whose significance they can’t comprehend.”

For them, a visit to the Louvre is “a mad rush from room to room, with obligatory stops at the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo,” where they clog the corridors so that “real art lovers” can’t get by. Every Parisian has at one time or another shuddered to see a grinning German, American, or Brit carefully framing a photo of a friend inside the Cathedral of Notre Dame, making sure to get the priest saying Mass in the background, as if such quaint rituals were just so much “local color.” The only way to survive as a local is to remind oneself that tourism is not a threat to our culture, “it is part of our culture.” The tourist is “the other,” but of course “each one of us is, or was, or will be a tourist somewhere.” Tourism facilitates “the peaceful exchange among different cultures,” and thereby enriches us all. Even if that is difficult to appreciate in Paris in August.

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