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Paris Syndrome is real: Tourists’ high expectations of Paris make them feel underwhelmed

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Paris tops the list of the most overrated major city, reveals a new study by luggage experts Radical Storage. Stockholm comes out as the city which travellers are most positively surprised about. Cape Town is considered the most ‘beautiful’ city while London’s attractions are referred to as ‘outstanding’.

Radical Storage analysed over 140,000 reviews to reveal the cities travellers feel are most underwhelming, and the ones that are exceeding expectations. The research was carried out to establish whether “Paris Syndrome” is real.

What is Paris Syndrome?
The Paris Syndrome is a psychological condition sometimes experienced by first-time visitors to Paris whose expectations of the city are so romanticised they get overwhelmingly disappointed when they are faced with the reality. 

The quaint and fairytale-like image of Paris portrayed in movies and books doesn’t always match the reality of this busy city, and the realisation can sometimes leave tourists in a state of utter shock. Symptoms vary, but hallucinations, anxiety, dizziness, acute delusions and sweating are among the most commonly reported. 

So is the Paris Syndrome really a thing? Actually, yes! Out of the 20 major tourist cities Radical Storage analysed, Paris did indeed come up as the city where most people felt that reality didn’t live up to their expectations. 

Cities where expectations don’t match reality
We analysed the ratio of positive and negative descriptions of a city to establish how many times traveller reviews suggested the expectation of the destination didn’t quite live up to the hype. 

The analysis verified that many travellers experience “Paris Syndrome”, with the City of Light coming up top of the cities where expectations don’t match reality.

Second on the list of cities that have an image that doesn’t match reality is Hong Kong followed by Seoul, Bangkok and Singapore.

1

Paris

2

Hong Kong

3

Seoul

4

Bangkok

5

Singapore

Cities exceeding travellers’ expectations
Out of the cities that were analysed, travellers feel most positively surprised about Stockholm. Perhaps the Swedish capital is not as romanticised in the media as Paris, and therefore travellers’ expectations aren’t as high when they visit this Nordic city. 

1

Stockholm

2

Dubai

3

Cape Town

4

Amsterdam

5

Kuala Lumpur

Negative words and phrases used to describe cities
We looked at 29 words and phrases to establish how many times the word was used to describe a specific tourist city. 

London and Paris accounted for 11% each of the reviews that mentioned the word “overrated” while 18% of the reviews mentioning “below expectations” or “underwhelming” were about London.

Paris accounted for 15% of the reviews mentioning “terrible” and 10% of the reviews mentioning “bad”.

Prague came out as the rudest city with 15% of the mentions of the word in the reviews, 10% of reviewers mentioning a destination was “not worth it” spoke about Tokyo, and Sydney came out as the biggest “rip off” with 15% of the mentions for this phrase.  

 

Cape Town

Berlin

Hong Kong

Kuala Lumpur

Los Angeles

Prague

Seoul

Singapore

Stockholm

Sydney

London

Paris

Barcelona

Amsterdam

Bangkok

Dubai

Istanbul

New York

Rome

Tokyo

overrated/over rated

0%

2%

7%

3%

2%

4%

4%

5%

3%

6%

11%

11%

5%

2%

11%

3%

6%

4%

2%

8%

Below expectations/ underwhelming

4%

5%

8%

0%

1%

9%

3%

4%

8%

5%

18%

3%

8%

2%

8%

1%

1%

3%

4%

3%

not great

5%

5%

6%

4%

5%

10%

2%

4%

2%

4%

10%

7%

5%

3%

1%

3%

4%

8%

7%

3%

terrible

7%

2%

4%

1%

4%

7%

2%

4%

2%

10%

8%

15%

7%

5%

3%

2%

5%

2%

4%

4%

horrendous 

8%

8%

8%

8%

8%

0%

0%

0%

0%

8%

8%

25%

8%

8%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

not happy

9%

3%

0%

0%

6%

18%

6%

3%

0%

15%

0%

12%

0%

6%

3%

0%

6%

3%

9%

0%

not impressed

19%

0%

4%

0%

4%

4%

0%

4%

7%

15%

15%

4%

11%

0%

0%

4%

4%

0%

4%

4%

disappoint

7%

4%

4%

3%

7%

3%

3%

5%

4%

Positive words and phrases used to describe cities
Los Angeles was described as “great” in 9% of the reviews mentioning the word, while “loved it” was referring to the City of Angels in 16% of the reviews that included the phrase. Cape Town was described as “beautiful” 8% of the times the word was mentioned. 

The attractions in Dubai were considered the “best” in 8% of the reviews mentioning the word. London ranked highest for “outstanding” (13%), “stunning” (14%) and spectacular (11%). Barcelona’s tourist spots are considered “must sees” by 12% of the reviews mentioning this phrase.Cape Town

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