Chez Disney

PARLEZ-vous franais, Mickey? You'd better learn, you little whiskered fella, if you're going to get anywhere in Paris.

It's not like California and Florida, where the natives all speak an approximation of English. In Paris do as the Parisians do: Say it in French.

Unless you're talking to Americans. They tend to clutter up the place, especially in August when the natives have fled. Then half the French speakers in town are language teachers from America, practicing Parisian French on each other.

It's understandable that you'd choose France instead of Spain for Europe's first Disney park: Since Franco, Spain has made lots of progress toward democracy, but not quite enough to satisfy a cautious mouse. Besides, Paris is closer to all those Dutch cheese factories. France has perfectly plausible reasons to want you Disney creatures: Construction and other jobs for French workers, plus the prospect of more tourist dollars.

But maybe the wily French, friendly mavericks since before De Gaulle, have a hidden agenda. After all, you're a pint-sized Pied Piper to Americans, Mickey -- look how they've followed you to your places in California, Florida, and Japan. Perhaps the embattled Parisians are expecting you to do the same thing Over There: Give them back their city by leading all the Americans out of Paris and into your suburban park 15 miles away.

Look at it from a Parisian's gleeful perspective: Paris for the Parisians, while all the Americans wear Mickey Mouse ears Chez Disney.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.