This-century stories: Down and out in Paris, not London

Gorgeous but gloomy: 21st century Paris

Gorgeous but gloomy: 21st century Paris

Economic gloom hangs over Paris like a pall. The authorities, says The Washington Post, via The Daily Telegraph, have denied permission to a treasure hunt that’s hitherto been held relatively peacefully in other parts of the world. In cities across the US, Mexico City and London, Jason Buzi’s Hidden Cash Project generated interest but none of the heavy-handed law enforcement measures it has attracted in Paris.

Why? Mr Buzi’s project is a fairly low-stakes venture. It might be better seen as a bit of frolic via social media, rather than a way to get rich quick. Why is this harmless bit of fun a great deal in 21st century Paris? I can imagine Port au Prince being unable to host Mr Buzi – at least in the next 50 years – even if he were so unwise as to want to come here. But why is Paris not as blasé about free money as parts of the US and the Mexican and British capitals?

Has it become too dreary by far? Is it no longer the city that “everyone” dreams of living in, as Natalie Portman so confident asserted? Is it contradicting Audrey Hepburn’s famous endorsement that “Paris is always a good idea”?

There are some clues in Mr Buzi’s previous attempt to distribute free money in Paris. That was in 2009 and it caused public disturbances. Five years down the line, the French don’t seem to have overcome their blue funk.

But Madrid, where the mood should be just as dull, if not more, is happy to allow a Hidden Cash lookathon soon.

Clearly, a This-century story must have a This-century quote and it can no longer be Metternich’s declaration that when Paris sneezes, Europe catches cold.

Jack Kerouac

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
– Jack Kerouac