Monday, January 15, 2007

C'est so paris!

 ... I love Paris in the winter, when it drizzles...

Yes, that bit of music is running through my head on a morning when Houston is feeling just a bit Parisian (41F and rainy out), if not in the most desirable of ways. Probably because I came across C'est so paris!, a Paris marketing campaign created by the tourism committee of the Île-de-France region.

Now, as marketing assignments go, does it get sweeter than this one? Imagine that your job is to take one a city that's known around the world as a beautiful, exciting, cosmopolitan place, a city whose name evokes romance, a city filled with fascinating history, incredible art, and amazing food, and sell it to tourists.

This is a license to have fun, because Paris is perpetually one of the top tourist destinations in the world. All you have to do is remind people about it and help them figure out how to get there and what to do when they arrive.

The tourism folks here in Houston must be so jealous. I love Houston; it's a wonderful place to live, one of America's undiscovered secrets, and the city is endlessly surprising and dynamic. But I realize, as all Houstonians do, that nobody was ever torn between taking their vacation in Paris or Houston.

That's precisely what C'est so paris! does, taking on one of the few negative perceptions of Paris - Parisian attitude, with little guides to rude gestures and tips on how to cop some attitude while you're visiting the city of light. There are, of course, some hotel deals and tips on upcoming events and things to do... and the important "Essential info" page, with a link to the more straightforward ParisInfo site.

It's just fun. I spent about eight or ten weeks in Paris last year, and can tell you that the famed attitude has a reputation far beyond its actual prevalence; I found Paris to be an incredibly visitor-friendly city, and the people quite pleasant (if sometimes brusque) as long as you learned a few basics of what constitutes proper behavior before you go.

I just wish more of my assignments offered the chance to play a bit the way this one does. And I'll leave you with one little Paris recommendation, should a trip there be in your future; a little restaurant we discovered and ate at many times. It's not the finest restaurant in Paris; it is an authentic local eating stop in the Marigny, a great little neighborhood that's not too touristy despite being right next the the Hôtel-de-Ville in the center of the city. If you want an excellent meal while feeling like you're just a Parisian out for dinner, check out Restaurant au Rendez-vous des Amis on rue Sainte-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie. It's only 8:30 in the morning but suddenly I have a hankering for their foie gras and some red wine.

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