By now you probably know whether you are or are not going to this summer's WDC event in Paris. If you're going, great! You really don't need to read this, unless you're really serious about winning the WDC title. If you're not going, you really don't need to read this either, unless you want to find out what you'll be missing. But for those of you who are still undecided, perhaps I can push you into going!
Over the last decade or so Americans, by the millions, have been going to France, primarily to Paris, and falling in love with the place. You can't help it. After all, they invented Love, remember? And, over the last decade or so American Dippers, by the ones and twos, have been going to France, also primarily to Paris, and falling in love with the French Diplomacy hobby. You can't help it. After all, they invented Diplomatie, remember?
I am, obviously, a Francophile; which is a good thing because otherwise my French Dip friends would never tolerate some of the nasty things I say about them. However, in this article my purpose is to move you from the good, old USA to the heart of Paris so you can participate in this year's WDC event.
If you've attended past WDC events in Britain, Sweden, or Belgium; you are partially prepared for Paris. If you haven't, you'll need to do some serious brushing up on your game. It's no accident that the current top ten WDC players' list includes four Frenchmen. They are good, very good. Their strategy and tactics are at least as good as ours, and in some cases even better. And their diplomacy negotiations are superb. Don't worry about speaking, or not speaking, the language. You'll probably only be playing with players who speak at least some English. Their computerized registration and scoring system deals with such details. Take time to study their tournament organization and scoring system. They are different. In particular be aware of the shortened time length of their games; which makes for a very intense game scenario. If you're the kind of player that doesn't hit his stride until a 1907 or 1908 mid-game, forget it. By then the game will be over!
After ten years there has now been enough interaction among worldwide hobbyists that a WDC event is truly a world event. There should be enough players in Paris from outside France to level the playing field at the top, but getting to the top won't be easy. Not only are the French good players, so are the British and Swedish players. And, of course, there will be other nations represented as well. Don't worry, if you're good, you'll do well and you'll have no lack of allies, etc. On the other, if you're not, you'll be toast for somebody's continental breakfast!
In addition to the usual individual and team Diplomacy events, you'll find an occasional variant game, considerable socializing and a big awards ceremony! The French are big on those! And yes, they really do drink Champagne out of those big cups!
The French hobby always finds an interesting venue for their events and this year's Maison de l'Europe is no exception. Just don't let all that gold paint, mirrors, and marble snow you! By the end of the first day half the toilets won't be working!
Housing this year is free for Americans, if you bothered to ask quickly. Hopefully you did, because the host hotel, the Hotel La Louisiane (60 rue de Seine, Paris 75006, +33 1 43 29 79 30 phone, +33 1 43 29 59 30 fax) is fascinating in its own right. This bohemian hotel has charm and a past -- Sarte, Simon de Beauboir, and Greco lived there. The rooms are modest but each has a phone, and either a bath or shower. It's located in the lively and bustling St. Germain area in the middle of a street food market. In addition to the Louisiane a number of budget hotel chains have recently opened in Paris. It is now possible find a decent room for well under $100 a night! In addition, the euro is trading at well below the USD, so your money is worth more. In fact, a trip to this year's WDC will cost about one-third of what my 1988 trip to Paris did.
Remember that WDC is being held at the end of July, many Parisians will be out of town on their annual holiday. This is good and bad. It's good because it means there will be fewer people in the city and the crowds won't be quite as bad as usual. It's bad because some public facilities will be closed, and of course there will be lots of tourists running around. If this is your first visit to Paris and/or France, I suggest you just stay in Paris and concentrate on the city. You'll find plenty to keep you busy and entertained. Don't venture out, particularly into the countryside, because you'll run into all the Parisians on their holidays! The weather will be hot, but probably not much warmer than what you're used to at home.
If you can, plan to spend at least four days above and beyond the Con event in Paris. Allow yourself a day for the left bank sites, one for the right bank, a day for day-trips (Versailles is a yes, Disneyland Paris is a no!), and a day just to cafe sit and watch the people go by! Remember, Paris is 2,000 years old and has over 80 major museums. You can't see it all in one trip, so don't even try. Just orient yourself on your first visit. Be sure to take the river boat tour! You can and should walk to just about any place you want to to see. Eating can be cheap or expensive, depending on your budget. If you're a student there are lots of ways to save money. The best way to prepare for your trip is to check out the travel book section at your local bookstore, or hit some of the destination web sites.
International travel is a lot more complex than it used to be. It can be cheaper. Sometimes. But if this is your first time overseas, I suggest you go through a travel agent (find one who has been in Paris in the last two years), or be prepared to spend a lot of time on the internet surfing. Take a good look at which American airlines fly into Paris (and whether they are looking at strikes this summer), but also consider some of the charter airlines. Often these offer cheap seats through various bucket shops (look at the little ads in your Sunday paper travel section). There are some airlines like Corsair and Air Liberte that fly non-stop from the US to Paris. Try to find somebody to go with you, of course, as that will help bring costs down. But figure, once you've got your ticket, that you're going to spend from $75 to $150 per person per day. And yes, the Parisian merchants love credit cards and ATMs abound!
So, off you go! Remember, I'd just love to have to engrave your name on the Rivasseau-Peery Cup!
If you wish to e-mail feedback on this article to the author, click on the letter above. If that does not work, feel free to use the "Dear DP..." mail interface.