Crossing the Channel: Paris Markets Itself to UK Workers and Visitors

Crossing the Channel: Paris Markets Itself to UK Workers and Visitors
Nothing says “bold” like a tongue-in-cheek gift with a hidden meaning. In 1989, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher went to Paris for a Group of Seven meeting. She was slighted during her visit several times, by remarks from Michel Rocard and bad seating placement at meetings. Upon leaving Paris, the Iron Lady gave French President François Mitterand a copy of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. The famous tome, which is set in both London in Paris, was meant to convey a message about each city and culture. And now, the ongoing tale between the two cities has a new chapter. Paris banks are trying to win over Londoners by convincing them to come work and visit Paris in greater numbers, specifically following the Brexit. As reported by Newsweek: “Billboards showing a green frog wearing a tie sporting the colors of the French flag and the slogan “Tired of the fog? Try the frogs! Choose Paris La Defense” are being put up at London’s Heathrow Airport and the London train station of the Eurostar, Reuters reported.” The ad campaign is timed to coincide with recent tax concessions that were introduced by the French government, targeted at expats. Given the shake-up that Brexit has caused, it may not be a hard sell to sway Londoners to come to Paris. The UK is now experiencing greater financial uncertainty, given the withdrawal from the EU. The rivalry (if you can call it that) between London and Paris is age-old. It has been debated countless times among residents, visitors, newspapers, in Buzzfeed infographics, and not to mention impassioned Francophiles and Anglophiles who have little stake in either. Paris has obvious draws for British citizens. They are the same draws which bring thousands of tourists from all over the world to the city each year. They are so obvious that it’d be a waste of words to type them out into full sentences: Eiffel, Michelin stars, Mona Lisa, Chanel, Montmartre, cheese, Jardin du Luxembourg, shopping, wine, la langue, boulangeries, Notre Dame, Orsay, and, again, cheese. English author and Londoner Stephen Thompson whose latest novel No More Heroes is getting rave reviews, is a former resident of Paris. He had this to say on the appeal of the City of Light, and how it compares to London: “I am a writer, and Paris has a rich and illustrious literary heritage. Writers are revered in France. You often see them on TV being consulted on matters of the day, so that appeals to me enormously; not the bit about appearing on TV, but the fact that their opinions matter. There are many things that Paris has offer which London simply cannot match: 1. The cafe society, especially in spring, when the city comes alive and the trees start to bloom. It’s a cliche but Paris dan les printemps, ca c’est la vie pour moi!  2. Is there a better city in the world than Paris for walking? It’s no coincidence that the figure of the flâneur is a Parisian invention. When I lived in Paris, in Montmartre, I would stroll from that end of the city to the other, taking in all the fantastic sights along the way, stopping at cafes, sitting in local parks to watch men playing boules, thinking, dreaming and scheming. Just wonderful!” Suffice to say that Parisians may be hearing more British accents dans les rues in the near future. And everyone loves a British accent, mais oui? Image Credits Gargoyles © Moyan Brenn, Les Deux Magots © Robyn Lee

Lead photo credit : Paris or London? Decisions, decisions | © Moyan Brenn

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Anne McCarthy is a contributing writer to BBC News, Teen Vogue, The Telegraph, Dance Magazine, and more. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Westminster and is the Editor in Chief of Fat Tire Tours’ travel blog. She lives in New York City.