Americans are falling back in love with France, and Paris in particular, partly due to the ‘Emily in Paris effect’ after the success of the hit Netflix show, a new poll shows.
The survey by Ifop* for the Bonjour New York travel blog and Le Figaro found that in 2023:
- 73% of Americans have a ‘very good’ or ‘quite good’ image of Paris
- Just 11% have ‘quite a bad image’
- 3% have a ‘very bad’ view
This is in contrast to a 2007 poll, which found that only 39% of Americans had a ‘good’ or ‘very good’ image of Paris.
In the new poll, more than a third (36%) said that they dreamed of working, studying, or living in the city. Paris even fared better than New York in terms of travel.
When asked if, money no object, they would like to travel to New York and Paris, 75% said the French capital, compared to 70% who would prefer the US city.
Americans are back
Frédéric Teboul, head of Paris estate agency Fredelion, told Le Figaro that these figures appeared to be having an effect on the property market. He said: “We are seeing that Americans are coming back [to Paris]. We can really see that difference.”
The currently-positive euro-dollar exchange rate is also making the capital more attractive for Americans earning in USD.
Tourists are also returning in greater numbers, with both trends (property and tourism) part of a wider increase in travel after the drop due to Covid.
For example, figures from the Booking.com platform show a significant increase in trips to the capital, and Paris was once again at the top of its most-searched destinations for Toussaint breaks.
The ‘Emily in Paris effect’
The trend has partly been attributed to the hit Netflix show Emily in Paris, starring Lily Collins. Three seasons have already been seen worldwide, with more than 117 million hours of watchtime recorded by Netflix.
Almost a third of the Americans asked in the Ifop poll had seen the series.
It tells the story of an ambitious American social media manager who works in a Paris advertising agency who marvels at - and sometimes struggles to adapt to - the city’s different culture and expectations.
The series’ idealised view of Paris has been both lauded and criticised. Emily easily gains social media followers, lives in a central apartment, and wears different designer clothes everyday.
She works on high-profile accounts, goes to lunch and dinner regularly, gets invited to celebrity-studded parties, and manages to impress major figures despite clashing with her scornful, arrogant boss. Almost everyone she meets speaks excellent English, to make up for her less-than-fluent French.
She travels across France to destinations like Saint-Tropez at a moment’s notice, makes friends with local women, and has numerous French suitors vying for her attention (even the married ones).
The city and its inhabitants nearly always appear chic, rich, beautiful, and glamorous, despite some humorous digs at both cultures.
And the series has had an undeniable effect across the pond.
- Of those who had not seen the show, 67% had a positive view of Paris
- This compares to 86% among those who had watched
- Almost a quarter (23%) of Americans who had not seen the series believed that there are “nearly no rats” in the capital…
- Compared to 63% who had seen it
This means that those who watched the show believe the capital is almost rodent-free. In reality, rats are often considered to be a major problem in the city.
The series has also improved Americans’ views of French people (or, at least, Parisians).
- 88% said they believe French people to be ‘bon vivants’ (lovers of the good things in life)
- 79% said that the people are ‘cultured’
- 69% said ‘welcoming
- Two-thirds believe that it is easy for French people to admit to having had ‘one-night stands’ and that they “speak more easily about their love and sex life than they do about money”.
François Kraus, director of Ifop’s politics and current affairs division said: "The analysis shows a degree of belief in…clichés traditionally attributed to the French.
“This attractiveness of the French and their capital is based on an overall positive vision of French society and its morals, particularly among the most progressive categories of the American population.”
The survey does show that Democrat (more left-wing) voters have a more positive view of Paris and the French than Republican (traditionally more conservative, right-wing) supporters.
Mr Kraus said: "’French bashing’ is a deep-seated trend [for some Americans], especially in conservative circles, which perceive us as lazy and sloppy.”
More highly-educated Americans are also more likely to have a positive view of the French.
- 86% of those with a graduate degree have a positive image
- 74% of those with an undergraduate degree said the same
- Versus 57% of those with a lower level of education.
Paris is not always so well-received, however.
The Japanese even have a name for this idea: ‘Pari shokogun’, or ‘Paris syndrome’. This is an increasingly-documented shock that happens when Japanese tourists’ romantic ideals of the city meet reality.
The difference between the idealised, beautiful visions they had dreamed of, and the dirty, often less-than-welcoming metropolis, can sometimes prove too much to bear.
*Ifop survey conducted by online questionnaire from January 18-20, 2023, among a representative national sample of 1,113 people, representative of the American population aged 18 and over.