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What is the “Disneyfication of Paris”?

Paris street

I’ve been pondering this question for the past few months and thought I’d put it to the Secrets of Paris community. “The Disneyfication of Paris” is a phrase that’s thrown around a lot, especially after the French film Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain (aka Amélie) became one of the biggest hits of 2001 despite the angry critics who said the director showed a fairy-tale version of Paris, not the “real” city. 

Disneyland Paris
The actual Disneyland

The topic has come up again when the director Jean-Pierre Jeunet announced last week that he was going to make a “mockumentary” about the making of the film for its 20th anniversary, but that he was never going to make a sequel because, among other logical reasons, “Paris est moche maintenant” (Paris is ugly now). That got the critics all riled up once again, of course.

But Amélie and Disneyland itself aside (both which I love, by the way), I’m genuinely curious what it means to all of you when you hear the phrase “Disneyfication of Paris”. Clearly this is never used without a negative connotation, so let’s go with that as the basis. And although this phenomenon applies to other locations around the world, let’s just stick to Paris. 

Let me know what you think in the comments below, including any examples of what you might consider to be “Disneyfication” in general or specifically. All opinions welcome to open the conversation. There are no correct answers!

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  • Perhaps "Americanization" of Paris?My wife and I visit Paris to eat, to sit in parks, people watch, pretend to be able to read Le Monde, enjoy an afternoon in a small lessor known museum and relax. I went to Disneyland as a kid and again at forty. It was a kick both times. However Disneyland holds no interest for me in a Parisian context, nor anything American. We are in Paris because Paris is Paris.

  • I love the mention "the actual Dysneyland Paris" :-)it means a lot in fact about Paris today…I would just say that this disneyfication matter is part of what french name la muséification de Paris.In other words: gentrification of former popular areas + best flats now often foreign properties (no occupant 90% of the time) + shops disapearing in favor of international brands + people growing old (limitation on Noisy joints or even on dayly markets), etc = Paris sometimes in former lovely full of life places looks a bit now like le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant !

  • Thanks everyone for your comments. The question is actually to ask what would you consider to be an example of "Disneyfication" in Paris. I should probably re-word that in the post. 😉

  • When I am in Paris, I try to see a mixture of my old favorites and at least a couple of new things. Which means I decided to skip Norte Dame in early April, much to my regret, and hadn’t been up close to the Eiffel Tower since I brought my family there in June of 2015. I’d seen the Eiffel Tower lit up at night, from a few blocks away, when I’d gone to see the holiday decorations in December 2017, but not since. So I was shocked and horrified to see all of the ugly walls and fences and empty grounds where crowds once thronged and enjoyed picnics.Definitely no Disneyfication there. I made my ritual visit to Luxembourg Gardens for a crepe near the palace, and it looked the same as always. I did a lot of walking, took more buses than usual, rather than staying underground. And I honestly saw no evidence of this. Personally, the only city I’ve seen to really fall prey to it is Las Vegas. Casino hotels were often based on fantasy, but it tended toward bordello decor, until developers decided to try and make it family friendly. That’s when we started getting all the hotels pretending they were somewhere else…like a big Epcot. (Epcot actually does it better.)New York has lost some of its roughness over the years. Most of the old stuff is still there, just in better shape. But holy cow, Times Square was completely transformed decades ago. And the newest things, like Hudson Yards, might have a touch of that. South Bank, in London, was also transformed many years ago. But not, I think, to the extent of New York. New Orleans may have gotten a little too cutesy after Katrina. But, to be fair, the city needed desperately to bring the tourists back and it didn’t cost anything extra. And there still remains much of the authenticity that made the city so special. Where, exactly, is this supposed to be happening in Paris?

  • Its not just the Disney -fication of Paris. It is almost everywhere. Venice comes to mind too. Cause? Imbalance of tourists to locals = loss of authenticity and many the reasons why you want to visit, have the experience in the first place. But I will always love Paris and am lucky that Ive been often so can go off the beaten track.

  • Things change. They change in Paris just as they do elsewhere. Some are negative, some positive, some neutral depending on your point of view 30 years from now someone will post or publish something decrying the terrible things that are being done to Paris. Things won't be the same as they were in the good old days in Paris 30 years ago (that is, right now). The hyperbole will be all over the place, most of it negative. The last time I went I thought it was wonderful, with the likely exception of the graffiti. But I didn't obsess over the graffiti. Spend you time where it's still wonderful in Paris–there are an endless number of places you can go. I will toast Paris in a few minutes when I have a glass of wine. I wish I were there!

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