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A Certain Type of Tourist

After returning from a weekend city break in petit Paris with ma famille and having time to reflect on my experience I would like to briefly discuss (and maybe rant a little) about my experience of the culture surrounding art galleries in Frances stylish capital.

Art galleries in Paris are known worldwide and the city is home to the most famous work of Monet, Van Gogh and Picasso and more. These works attract many tourists. Some who appreciate art in it’s most intracate detail and some who, to be completely frank, couldn’t care less.

The first Sunday of every month allows free entry to all Parisian art galleries thus making it prime time for these knobheads (if you pardon my French). I experienced the wrath of them in the home of Van Gogh’s arguably most famous self portrait and Monet’s ‘Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies’, the Musee d’Orsay.

Despite the beauty of not only the art in this gallery but the attraction of the building itself – a converted train station with undeniably good looking architecture, my visit to the Musee d’Orsay was definitely made a little worse by the sheer number of a certain type of tourist. Let me elaborate.

These people would wander aimlessly with no emotion or care on their faces, perhaps in complete awe, or concentration? But more likely disinterest, in the variety of art around them. The hopeless tourists, consumed with the absolute necessity to photograph every possible sight, would saunter up to a great work of art, of which the artist put sheer hours of talent, focus and love into and not even look at the painting. They all, like sheep, performed the same action over and over of holding up their iPhone 6 or some such like to the artwork, taking a quick snap then ambling off to repeat the labourious task again, with almost every other painting in the room.

It amazes me to think how these people continued this bad habit with approximately 80% of the gallery without becoming completely and utterly brain numbingly bored, I almost admire their commitment to the task.

It also makes one wonder, what happens to all these carefully shot photographs? Will they be shown to grandchildren in years to come? Will they be printed and framed all over the house, as if they themselves are living within the Musee d’Orsay? Or will they meaninglessly be dragged and dropped, cut and pasted into a hard drive on some computerised device, never to be seen or spoken of again. I predict for most of these tourists, the latter will be the case, with inevitable impending death in the recycle bin.

Nevertheless, as annoying as it may be, I expect no less. It’s understandable why you’d want to photograph Paris – it’s a charming city, and by all means should be remembered. It just seems that sometimes people lose touch of the importance of seeing with the eyes, not an iPhone camera, and enjoying a moment when it’s actually happening. But if people really believe all those pictures are necessary and they will aid their quality of life then hey, who am I to judge. All they need now is a visit to Italy to take a picture holding the Leaning Tower of Pisa up and they’ll be golden. Bucket list complete. (I joke I joke)…

On the whole, Paris was totally splendid. Great cheese, great wine, great times… However, as with any major city tourist destination, it was a little too busy, and full of characters who define the word ‘tourist’ in all it’s stereotypical glory.

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