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March 20th 2012 print

Claire Berlinski

Joie de Decline

I arrived in Paris to find commuter trains on strike, graffiti everywhere, the streets filthy, and every restaurant at which one might eat with a toddler closed. But Paris is always like this.


From City Journal:


Joie de Decline

Claire Berlinski

I arrived in Paris to find commuter trains on strike, graffiti everywhere, the streets filthy, and every restaurant at which one might eat with a toddler closed. But Paris is always like this, and I saw no sign of distress at the imminent prospect of the eurozone breakup or even much evidence of a recession.

I had been in New York and then in Istanbul the week before. Of the three cities, New York is the only one where everything works reliably. In Istanbul, where I live, no one is ever on time for anything; the word “deadline” has no meaning. Once I nearly collapsed in shock after a repairman told me that he would be at my apartment within 90 minutes and was indeed there within 90 minutes. At first, I was suspicious. Was he a spy? When I concluded that he had really come to fix something, I had to fight back tears of gratitude.

The exception to Istanbul’s dysfunction is Atatürk International, one of the most pleasant and efficient airports in the world—it took me just 15 minutes, starting from my deposit at curbside, to get through check-in, security, and immigration—and Turkish Airlines, which I adore, despite those discomfiting rumors about its prioritization of customer service over pilot training. I’ll take the customer service and my chances, not to mention the certainty that Turkish Airlines won’t be on strike and the high probability that Air France will be.

No one in France seems to have grasped the connection between the country’s army of ceaselessly striking civil servants and the prospect of economic doom.

Read on at City Journal