Spring is back in Paris which also means, so are the tourists. Now I understand that tourists are going to make a faux pas here and there because everyone comes from different cultures and societies, but seriously, this one needs to stop.
What am I talking about? The selfie stick.
For those who have been so lucky in life that they have never heard of nor seen a selfie stick, they are a telescoping monopod upon which you can attach your cellphone in order to take photos of yourself without asking someone else to do so. They are brillant for solo travellers, but in the wrong hands, they are a nightmare to deal with.
I was out and about doing my errands around Paris, and I needed to go to Champs Elysées. Champs Elysées is a huge draw for tourists, so I mentally prepared myself for the stress I was bound to endure. The typical stuff happened – tourists texting and not watching where they are going, tourists throwing their cameras at me to take their photo without even bothering to ask, tourists turning abruptly with huge backpacks on, and also the ones asking for directions in English like I were a five year (thinking that if they just yell louder, maybe the French will suddenly understand them). These, while annoying and often quite rude, are typical occurrences in Paris and so my patience endured. But then I saw something that was so ridiculous, so stupid, I had to take a photo of it.
What is going on in this photo? I will clarify it for everyone. This is a photo of tourists, standing in between lanes of traffic at the Champs Elysées roundabout, trying to get the perfect selfie with the Arc de Triomphe.
For those of you who have not had the pleasure of seeing the Arc de Triomphe in person, it stands in the centre of the largest roundabout in all of Europe, with twelve exits, no dividing lanes and where every hour is rush hour. Here is a small video of someone driving through the roundabout on a normal day. I have seen it get much worse than this.
Did you see those near misses? Did you see the crazy motorcyclists? Is your blood pressure a little higher now? This is driving in France, and my experience in Lyon felt like this a few times.
So imagine my surprise when I saw not one, not two, but HOARDS of tourists running in between cars in order to get a photo. My first thought was that if Darwin was here, he would lose his mind.
Even the locals were looking at the tourists like they were mad, including this motorcyclist from a photo I zoomed in on.
There was even one pair who smacked another motorcyclist with their selfie stick while he was stopped. Mon dieu…
So if you find yourself in Paris and have the burning desire to take a selfie in the middle of the busiest roundabout in the country, please resist. Selfie sticks have gotten so bad in France that they are now banned in all museums because everyone kept whacking the artwork and thousand year old artifacts trying to take a photo for Instagram. I’m not kidding…
Here is a British news article about their battle with selfie sticks, as well as articles from France and the USA. If movies are more your thing, Pizza Hut did a brilliant spoof video on selfie sticks and their danger to the rest of the world.