This past summer I was invited to the Rolland Garros opening day by Happy Curious (a PR, communications and social intelligence firm) and Mastercard France for their project Priceless Paris. The goal was to offer a “priceless” moment to a selected bunch of Parisians (and I happened to be one of them! Lucky me!). But the project was more than just an afternoon of tennis. Happy Curious spent the Summer concocting and conducting a study for Mastercard on what Parisians feel are priceless moments in the city of light.
And so I was invited recently to a dinner at the Chambre des Oiseaux restaurant (a darling place with REAL homemade food, that I will surely return to) with a group of Paris bloggers for the revealing of the results of the study. What was discovered surprised me. I was heading to the dinner expecting to hear all sorts of “priceless Paris moments” that were full of wildly opulent desires and luxurious memories, costly events and exclusive venues. But no, the Parisian is much more simple than I had judged…the Parisian appreciates that which money cannot buy. My faith in the Parisian has hence been restored.
These findings are the result of interviews conducted with 32 Parisians – some native, some not. They may or may not have lived away from Paris at some point in their lives. They met with Happy Curious partners in Paris to discuss the city and were asked to help define what makes Paris, for them, priceless.
About the interviewees:
– Age and gender: 22 to 72 years old
– Wide range of socio-professional categories represented
Each interview was structured with a series of three sets of questions designed to maximize response quality and depth and uncover all-important details.
- SET 1: PRICELESS. How would you describe priceless in general? Examples? Moments of immeasurable pleasure, value, joy?
- SET 2: PARIS: What is your relationship with Paris? What do you see when you observe Paris? What feelings does Paris evoke?
- SET 3: PRICELESS PARIS: in this phase was discussed the interviewees’ link between their own definitions of “priceless” and their relationship with Paris. What specifically makes Paris “priceless”? How? When? Where? Much of this phase was focused on getting interviewees to tell their own Paris-related priceless stories and life experiences.
Through the analysis of the’ responses Happy Curious found that there are 5 key “priceless” moment types that Parisians were refering to in the interviews:
These five categories are not at all the opulent and luxurious answers that I had expected Parisians to come out with. I find this deliriously comforting as it means that a “Priceless Paris” is available to all who can come here. You don’t have to be the daughter of a movie star or a weathy middle-eastern oil heir to gain access to the most precious that Paris has to offer…
It’s like I have said… Paris is a moment.
Enjoy some of the answers that are quoted directly from the interviews conducted with Parisians :
An impression of the city’s permanent beauty :
“Got a ride from someone on a scooter the other day, from Montorgueil. It went fast, I observed Paris as we made our way, and it was sublime.”
“Paris at night. Paris lit up… it’s so beautiful. It moves me even more than during the day – if that were possible!”
The light :
“Just when I’ve forgotten how beautiful Paris is, suddenly I’m reminded… I’m taken aback by the movement of the light…and I realize that something unique is happening.”
“I wish I were a morning person. I would get up early and go out and take pictures of Paris in the morning light.”
The idea of all the possibilities that Paris holds :
“I get the impression that Paris offers anything I need or want. All of the things that interest me in life I can do here. I
don’t get the same impression in other cities, even the greats, like New York. I never feel rigidity in Paris. It’s a place
where your only limit is your imagination, a place where I know I can find true fulfillment. I still have lots to do and lots
to see in Paris.”
“When I hear my footsteps as I walk in a Paris street at night I get the impression that Paris belongs to me and that anything is possible.”
Paris is a city for people who love to wander whether is become a rituel or brings about new undiscovered corners of the city :
“When you take a moment to look just below the surface, you discover incredible things. Things you never thought could
exist in Paris. Another important dimension is that in Paris you can get lost, find yourself somewhere you’ve never been,
and sometimes it’ll be the surprise of your life.”
“At noon everyday I take the passage des Panoramas.. I love it in there. It’s a bit out of the way, but no matter. I do it
every day. I go out of my way every day. And it’s a joy every day.”
Paris will alwyas find a way to surprise you :
“What I prefer about Paris is the unexpected, the stuff behind the facades, the reality. Above all, it’s the improvisation:
going rudderless, seeking nothing more than the possibility of being surprised: all of the sudden, Paris starts happening
“During one of Paris’ annual Nuit Blanche (an all-night city event held in June every year), by accident I found myself
observing the projections on Saint-Eustache church. It was one of those summer nights, when the ambiance goes on
through the night. People seemed happy.”
Paris is a city that makes you think :
“Often in the early evening I think of all of the shows and concerts that are about to begin. I’m not attending any of them,
but the mere awareness of curtains being raised across the city excites me.”
“Few cities are capable of integrating so many different cultures from around the world. Paris’ most precious qualities are
its diversity and cosmopolitism.“
Paris, the city of love…or the city that you love :
“It’s true that a romantic rendezvous in Paris, strolling hand-in-hand along the Seine, through the Tuileries, having the
beautiful surroundings of Paris as the setting for the opening chapter in a new story: that’s priceless. Paris is a city that
transforms how we see what we love.“
“The cityscape can drive me to tears: no matter where you look, you se beauty. It’s artistic, poetic and monumental.
Everything’s there. On an emotional-aesthetic level, nothing is missing. Paris was created for this: stimulating our
“The Paris I love is the Paris that I have yet to discover.”
So what now…. Other than the knowledge that the best that Paris has to offer is out there waiting for us to grab it?!? Yes…and Mastercard, who has instigated this whole research project is alwo going to contribute to that which makes Paris magical! On November 14th, Paris will have a day with a thousand surprises put in place by Mastercard France and orchestrated by Happy Curious. A day where you may be surprised anywhere at anytime in Paris by something that will delight you and ignite that feeling of “being lucky” to live in this amazing city.
After the 14th you can access with your Mastercard all sorts of events that come with something a little “extra” that will make the moment a priceless one.