We are in the midst of Paris Tourism Week (which began July 5, 2008 and will continue through July 14, Bastille Day, ’08). The ‘event’ has expanded from Paris Tourism Day last year. I did not participate in the huge ‘smile formation’ yesterday – and honestly the idea of a ‘Smiling Paris’ just seems kind of weird. Normally when you’re in a city like Paris or New York, if somebody’s smiling, he’s either a lunatic, a tourist, or just about to drag you over the coals. For so many years, I’ve taken it as a challenge to eke out a nanosecond glimmer from a grumpy Parisian waiter or shop keeper. It often resembles much the sort of smile you can see on Rodin’s bemused Monsieur Balzac or the vacant, dazed smiles of Carpeaux’s The Dance models. I like that kind of smile – filled with questions as opposed to the dazzling Disneyesque, “Am I not wonderful?”
But setting aside the smiles philo for a while, tourists will have plenty of reason to grin if this happiness trend continues (that is, the tourist office handing out freebies to get you to stay in Paris a day or two longer). Even if you don’t arrive in time to enjoy some of the DISCOUNTS and FREE offers for this summer’s tourist week (July 5 to July 14, 2008) this looks like another summer rite that’s bound to continue if the European and US economies continue to stagnate.
Here are some of the goodies that will make you smile:
Parisian for a Day
Get a free walking tour in English or French
Tuesday, July 8th ‘Smile Point’ Sorbonne at 10:30 am and 12 noon
Thursday, July 10th at the Madeleine ‘Smile Point’ at 10:30 and 12 noon
Tel. 06 18 54 24 95
A Free Hotel Room Just Because You’re the Funniest of them all?
Tell a joke and you could win a FREE Hotel stay. Yes, it’s hard to believe, especially when I think that the Hotel Arcadie and the Hotel Waldorf (Montpartnasse district) are sponsoring this contest (I’ve mentioned Hotel Arcadie in past posts as a modestly-priced nice place to stay according to friends)
Hotel Arcadie Montparnasse
71 Avenue du Maine 75014
Tel 01 43 20 91 11
17 Rue du Depart
Tel: 01 43 20 64 79
Joke telling contest. (July 6 to July 14, 2008) Any person knowing a good joke or funny story in French, Italian, Spanish or German is invited to share. Up until July 31st everyone can vote on the jokes and help select the winning joke. The prize is two free nights in either the Arcadie or Waldorf hotels (contact the hotels for details) and a free cruise on the Seine. In addition to the ‘Best Joke Contest’, one person will be selected at random among all who participated in voting for the best joke. That lucky random voter will receive one free night and a free boat ride on the Seine.
Other participating hotels are offering free brunches, drinks etc. during Tourism Week. Check out the Paris Smiles Program for details.
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You can download the list of participating restaurants, bars and cafes that are offering ‘happy hour’ prices or discounts for Paris Tourism Week. Every little bit helps, n’est-ce pas? Given the price of a beer in this city.
It’s nice to see that the Office of Tourism is pulling out all the stops to make tourists feel at home – and loved in the big city – but the real fun will begin on July 14th, Bastille Day. That’s when you really will want to get out in the streets of Paris to enjoy the annual celebration (which actually starts off on July 13th with the Place de la Bastille Ball at 8 pm).
More on Bastille Day tomorrow.
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