The guidebook author, and TV/radio host was discussing home exchanges with a caller on his radio show, and talk turned to the difficulty of attracting international visitors to some U.S. cities (h/t to Perfect Duluth Day for spotting this).
"Because you've got to sell them on your place. If you live in, no offense, but Duluth, you're going to have a tough time getting somebody from Paris," Steves said.
Here's the clip.
OK so it's not the worst insult ever leveled at Minnesota, and it's kind of understandable considering they're talking about enticing an international guest to stay on the North Shore during February.
Full disclosure, I love Paris, but I can think of several reasons off the top of my head why Duluth is a better place to live in and visit than the French capital.
Here are some:
Paris has a reputation as being one of the dirtiest major cities in the world and it's not without merit (though it's also beautiful). That said, The Local reports efforts have been stepped up in recent months to crack down on litterbugs and clean up dirty streets.
But air pollution remains a major problem in Paris, with city officials last year having to tackle smog by making public transit free on certain days, and alternating the days that certain cars can be driven in the city (based on license plate numbers).
And while Duluth has the occasional issue with Canadian wildfire smoke, it is generally considered one of the cleanest metro areas for air and ozone pollution.
The traffic isn't a nightmare
Duluth has problems with potholes – which it hopes to fix with a sales tax hike – but Paris is on another level when it comes to traffic.
The city was ranked 9th in the world for having the worst congestion by traffic information company Inrix earlier this year.
What's more, this Vice writer (who hated living in Paris) said that on the occasions traffic is actually moving, Parisians drivers "don't sweat the small stuff" like traffic laws and the lives of pedestrians.
You're not sharing the streets with more than 11 million people
Paris itself is home to 2.2 million people but the greater Paris area has almost 12 million inhabitants.
There's something to be said for big city living, but if you're looking for a quieter existence, the 86,000 residents in Duluth are easier to share the space with.
The Great Outdoors is on your doorstep
Sure, Paris has the Bois Du Boulogne and a few other prominent forests and parks. But if you're looking for anything close to what you have access to in northeast Minnesota, you need to venture far out of the city.
As for Duluth, how does Lake Superior sound to you, Rick Steves? No? Then what about the Superior National Forest, the mysterious Devil's Kettle, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness?
No snooty waiters
I'm not kidding, in the first restaurant I went to on my first trip to Paris as an adult, I was greeted by a pencil-thin mustachioed maitre d' who was the epitome of every Parisian waiter stereotype.
And that includes his demeanor, which was dripping with such disdain and impatience that it colored my entire dining-out experience in Paris – he would have ranked highly on Thrillist's Paris waiter snootiness scale.
To be fair, every other experience I had with a French person that weekend (and since) has been overwhelmingly positive.
In Duluth, the first place I ate at was Grandma's Saloon, where I received the finest Minnesota Nice treatment.
The Lift Bridge > The Eiffel Tower
No, sorry ... I can't back that up, Paris has Duluth beat on that one.