Syndrome de Paris

Paris Exposition: Champ de Mars and Eiffel Tower, Paris, France, 1900

Paris Syndrome or Syndrome de Paris is a temporary psychological condition suffered by some visitors to Paris. When great expectations meet the gritty reality of Paris life (e.g. dog poo) severe culture shock can set in.

Most victims are Japanese women their 30s, who after being fed a lifetime of highly romanticized images (Amelie, À bout de souffle, Love in the Afternoon – and other top films to see Paris on the silver screen) cannot not handle the gritty reality of Paris life. As Paris Syndrome affects about 12 Japanese tourists a year, the Japanese embassy has a 24-hour hotline in place and can offer help in case of hospitalization. Discovered by Professor Hiroaki Ota, a Japanese psychiatrist working in France, it is similar to Stendahl syndrome.

As the the BBC said in its discussion of Paris Syndrome“[m]any of the visitors come with a deeply romantic vision of Paris [but the] reality can come as a shock. An encounter with a rude taxi driver, or a Parisian waiter who shouts at customers who cannot speak fluent French, might be laughed off by those from other Western cultures. But for the Japanese – used to a more polite and helpful society in which voices are rarely raised in anger – the experience of their dream city turning into a nightmare can simply be too much.”

If you’ve been to Nippon, the Japanese’s romantic vision of Paris will come as no surprise – Tokyo is awash with French brands and pâtisseries – you’ll even spot an Eiffel-inspired lattice tower on the skyline. Viz, my buddy Richard & I near the Tokyo Tower in 2007:

The Eiffel inspired Tokyo Tower

Can you say baby-faced? Anyway, I’m sure I will be in full control of my psyche and expectations when I land at Orly, Paris in just 26 days… but it’s best to be prepared!

Hi Europe!

In one month I am going to hop on a plane, watch a ton of bad films, eat some awful food and read some trashy magazines; have a brief jaunt in Korea, and then, 48 hours later, touch down at Heathrow. Thanks to Creative Cities and the British Council, I’m on my way to the London Festival of Architecture!

I’m pretty chuffed. London and I got acquainted briefly last year – but I am thrilled to have another chance to spend some quality time exploring the city, and a discipline (architecture) that really appeals to me. I will be blogging madly for Creative Cities and doing my usual travelogues on Code For Something.

You know what else appeals?  A mini European summer…

Yay! I’ve never been to the Continent before. Not sure where I’m going, but there’s still 26 days to plan. So where’s good to hang out in (Western) Europe? As always, if you have any hot tips I’d love to hear them.




London, baby. My initial expectations of London were quite low, to be perfectly, almost disturbingly, frank with you. I had always seen it as a low grey metropolis, soot and grumpy people. However it revealed (well more accurately threw off its coat and flashed) itself as a paradise, a land of beautifully groomed moustaches, well dressed denizens and fun. I love it so much I wore a white t-shirt to take a silly snapshot, and you know I NEVER wear white.

Poetic, yes. Marvelous, yes. Diverse, certainly. Scary, never. ❤


london eye

pretty london bike


LDN chairs




Selected moments of glorious warm fuzzy feelings:

  • Brick Lane, beer and delicious beigels from a Jewish bakery.
  • Shoreditch – my expanded thoughts on the holy hipster land are over at Alt Albion.
  • Oxford Street shopping, especially Uniqlo, Selfridges and ‘losing my shit’ (that’s my composure, folks) in Topshop.
  • Seeing some world class art – including Banksy and Blu, who I have written about previously.
  • Meeting with my friends Miles and Alice for a drink in a pub. Good times!
  • The London Eye, a perfectly clear day and a private pod.
  • Finally visiting the Tate Modern and seeing the giant domestic cat.
  • Staying at the Bloomsbury Radisson, aka Bloomsbury Radsville. It’s a fabulous hotel, if only they didn’t keep asking if I was sure I was in the right place!
  • Wasabi Sushi – nom, nom, nom. Excellent vegetarian options.
  • London A-Zed – I conducted a wee project, taking photos of London signage to create an alphabet. Please note the punctuating crown. Majestic.


I miss you London but I’ll be back soon. Seriously, we only managed to say hi to each other. Can’t wait. And you, have you been to London? What’s your favourite city? Where do you feel alive, connected with the human condition, or just your real self? I’d love to know.

Timeless – Louis Vuitton ads

The glamour of travel is definitely evoked by this Louis Vuitton Luggage advertisement – found in the 1901 Orient Pacific Guide. I love the  hand rendered type, the etching and the telegraphic address, simply – “Vuitton, London” (large view).

There’s nothing like pretty pictures of trunks and travel wear to get me excited!

Louis Vuitton

This image is actually a photo I took of the original book. During that time it was common to fill the guides up with advertising material from the exotic destinations, or in this case, the dearest starting point. I found it in a Maritime Museum library, where I could hardly be trusted to breathe near the books – let alone scan something…

Here is one of the latest Louis Vuitton advertisements; featuring the adorable father-daughter combo of Francis and Sofia Coppola. They too  make travel look exceedingly desirable (see also the LV Sean Connery ad).

Louis Vuitton Coppola Print Advert



Funny how some things don’t change too much over time – even over more than a century. What makes travel glamourous? Both ads are about thoughtful reflection, lounging and wide vistas (1901 has this metaphorically, 2008 has this literally) – benefits of being outside your daily sphere. Oh and gorgeous draping fabrics, and exquisite baggage – the luxury requisites of travel.


“The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only one page.”

– St. Augustine of Hippo

United we travel

Over the last few days I’ve been so excited most of my words have come out muddled and I have nearly developed my own language of squeaks. Why? Because I’m off to the United Kingdom next week! (Yup, that’s my secret – I only found out on Monday.)

bon voyage

A grand surprise, I’m lucky to be road tripping with the Alt Albion crew on a 12 day cultural voyage (does that mean beer?) of discovery.

We’re checking out Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester, Cardiff, London and Brighton. I must say, the “we” is a very cool bunch of people – I’m looking forward to getting to know them.

Alt Albion

Some of the things that I might (and very likely will) do:

+ London Fashion Week + See Magazine in Manchester + High tea at the Ritz + Grouchos + London Eye + Eat Brighton Rock + Stay in a 17th century inn on Loch Lomond + Try some (vegetarian) haggis + Go to a chippery + See a fox + Party at Optimo in Glasgow + Drink a daily bucket of tea + Go to a football match + The Royal Pavilion in Brighton…

Brighton Royal Pavilion

And a million other things I’m sure. The 9th largest island in the world is my oyster! If you’ve got any suggestions, please let me know – I need some starting points.

As this trip is so last minute (I hurriedly bought a down jacket yesterday, and am struggling to find boots!), I haven’t prepared any posts for while I’m away. I’ll definitely try and keep up but no promises. However, it looks like I will be blogging daily over at Alt Albion site however, so check it out. Yay all round!