Eager to assist their allies in the war against the war, the New York Times dispatched its travel writer to assure Americans that nothing is wrong in Paris, nothing at all. Except perhaps the commute:
The reality – contrary to what foreigners may deduce from television broadcasts of burning cars with the word “Paris” superimposed over them – is that the rioting remains distant from visitors. It has so far been confined to a handful of relatively distant, heavily working-class, immigrant communities. Inside the Périphérique, the highway that rings Paris and serves as an informal city line, life goes on pretty much as normal. That’s because in Paris, unlike most big American cities, the rich and the middle-class tend to live in the center of town. The poor are relegated to the “banlieues” – the decrepit bedroom communities at the far ends of commuter rail lines, where tourists rarely go.
Except, perhaps, when they arrive. Charles de Gaulle Airport, the main point for arrivals from overseas, lies about 15 miles northeast of the city. The route from the airport to the center of Paris passes directly through the riot-torn district of Seine-St.-Denis. One of the cheapest ways into the city from de Gaulle is the RER B train (about $10). Service has been disrupted in recent days, and one train was hit by rocks. The United States Embassy in Paris has been advising visitors to avoid the train. (For additional information about buses and trains in Paris, click here.)
Oh, and did I mention that, well, there had been some problems downtown as well:
For those still living calmly in central Paris, there are more serious reasons for concern. On Sunday night, several cars were torched in the 17th Arrondissement, just inside the Périphérique. Worse, four vehicles were burned near République, a trendy area of shops and restaurants at the junction of the 3rd, 10th and 11th Arrondissements – well within the Périphérique and only about a mile north of the Centre Georges-Pompidou modern art museum.