It has been a while since I was in Paris. And things have changed over there. It seems as if the city is finally giving way to globalisation. Something the French used to be reluctant to. Waiters welcome you in English, and even if you reply in French, they will continue in English. The science museum now has explanations in multiple languages, except for the older expositions that are still French only. Even the information panels at metro stations are now trilingual – French, English and Spanish.
Speaking of the Paris metro, it is still as convenient as ever to get around, but some changes have made the metro-experience a bit dull. Most of the old metro coaches, the ones with the ferocious sliding doors, are being replaced by modern, comfortable and less noisy ones. The yellow line now has sliding doors on the platforms as well, which prevent people from falling on the tracks. And it is now also possible to buy an electronic ticket, although its use is not yet widespread. I admit that travelling has become more comfortable, safe and convenient this way. But does it have to come at the cost of losing character?
The most heartbreaking change in the metro is not transport-related, however. I still have this picture in my mind of trumpet or saxophone players sitting against a wall, their notes fading away slowly in the endless tunnel system. These musicians now play along with an orchestra tape, or use a synthesizer. So much for authenticity. Please, can anyone who still speaks French explain them what ‘less is more’ means?
Am I being to nostalgic here? Maybe. Is this due to my frame of reference created at least two decades ago? Certainly. But, you see, it matters. It influences your experience. And I can’t help being a bit disappointed…