Many Americans have dreamy and romantic ideas about Paris, notions which probably trace back to the 1920s vision of Paris created by the expatriate Americans there. But what's it actually like in Paris if you're an American, without rose-colored glasses?
- Host Ira Glass talks with writer David Sedaris at the Louvre in Paris. David's never set foot inside, though he lives just a few minutes away. He says most people go to the Louvre because they think they should. Where he would take them if they wanted to see the city where he's lived for two years is very different. (6 minutes)
- Act One: David Sedaris takes Ira on a tour of his favorite spots in Paris. He moved to France with no special feelings for the place. His head wasn't full of Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein and Sartre and Proust; he was a blank slate. And so the places he's found as his favorites tend to be places where the people aren't mean to him when he speaks French, or places where very unusual and fascinating objects are sold, or place that are unlike anywhere in the States. (27 minutes)
- Act Two: We hear from two Americans who live in Paris about what it is that draws the people who love France so much. (6 minutes)
- Act Three: Is Paris still the racially tolerant place that Richard Wright and James Baldwin discovered in the 1940s? Janet McDonald talks about whether African-Americans are still welcomed in Paris so warmly, even after a half century of African migration to the city. Also: Why it's sometimes better for her to put on a bad American accent. Janet wrote the book Project Girl. (16 minutes)
Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org