A first world problem – the Paris syndrome. That horrible feeling you get when you realize that Paris is not how you imagined it to be. As ridiculous as it sounds, Paris Syndrome is very real.
Every year a dozen of people suffer from this disorder. Most of them Japanese.
This, due to the way the city is represented in the media. Many people get the misconception of Paris to be a extremely romantic, clean, small, quaint, and friendly place. Beautiful and elegant women all looking like super models in every corner of the city. The smell of Chanel No.5. Parks filled with pigeons. Waters bursting into song at the drop of a hat. In fact, many Japanese and Chinese really believe that this is Paris.
The reality can come as a shock.
As in any other city, in Paris you can find rude taxi drivers. Or you might witness a Parisian waiter who shouts at customers who cannot speak fluent French. There are long queues to get into tourist attractions. There is crime. There is noise. And there is dirt.
So maybe not weird that someone with a romanticized image of Paris, might be disappointed. But the syndrome goes further beyond that.
You might wondering what happens to those suffering from the Paris syndrome. I was curious to know too. Apparently, these tourists are gripped with anxiety. A combination of physical and psychological symptoms that are not very pleasant to deal with. It manifests in different ways for different people. Some are scared to go traveling again for a long time. Others suffer from acute delusions, dizziness, sweating, hallucinations, depression and feelings of persecution.
Many of them that struggle to come to grips with the fact that the city of their dreams does not exist, had to be flown back to their own country for medical supervision. In most cases, a few days of good bed rest and hydration fixes the problem. However, the only permanent cure is to go back to Japan, and never to return to Paris.
The Japanese Embassy in Paris, actually has a 24-hour hotline for those suffering from severe culture shock and the Paris syndrome, and can help find hospital treatment for anyone in need.
I feel a little bit sorry for the Japanese and the people suffering from the syndrome. That being said, it should help them, and everyone else traveling to Paris, to remember that the Paris in the movies is almost entirely different from the one that exists in real life today. Sure there many amazing sights to explore, friendly people, and delicious foods, but just like any other city in the world, it has its rotten apples.
What do you think about Paris? Is the city like in the movies?