Hey Rick Steves, here's why Duluth is better than Paris

The popular travel writer badmouthed Duluth (kinda) on his radio show.

National figures shouldknowby now that talking down about Minnesota is a big mistake – but the latest to get caught in the trap is notable travel personality Rick Steves.

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.

But damnit, you just can't bring the fire on Minnesota when you're a national figure, as Washington Post and New York Times reporters have found in recent years.

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:

Less pollution

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.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2021-09-16 at 6.56.30 PM

Severe thunderstorm watch issued for central MN, part of Twin Cities

A line of storms is making its way across the state.

Flickr - Enbridge Line 3 Palisade - Lorie Shaull

DNR orders Enbridge to pay $3.32M over Line 3 environmental violations

The pipeline company breached a groundwater aquifer, causing water to flow uncontrolled into a trench.

Eric Kendricks

Eric Kendricks misses practice, lands on injury report

The star linebacker headlines a lengthy list ahead of Week 2.

WIkimedia commons covid vaccine moderna

3 Twin Cities counties reach 16+ vaccination rate of 80%

More than 8 in 10 residents of that age group have gotten at least one dose.

Flickr - Burlington store exterior -

New Burlington location opens in Minneapolis Friday

To celebrate, the company is donating $50K to a neighborhood group and nearby school.

Top Ten Liquors Minnetonka rendering

Top Ten Liquors plans another Twin Cities location

The high-end wine bar and grocery space would take over a former Champps.

London Michael Bean go fund me

Teen charged with fatal shooting of 12-year-old London Bean

A warrant has been issued for the 18-year-old's arrest.

Minnesota Wild

Wild announce national TV broadcast schedule

The Wild will have 13 games nationally televised this season

suni lee

St. Paul's Suni Lee named to Time's list of 100 Most Influential People

Lee won three medals at the Tokyo Olympics, including an all-around gold.

Dunn County WI homicide suspect

1 arrested in quadruple killing, with 'armed and dangerous' suspect at large

The four victims were found in an abandoned SUV in rural Wisconsin.

Screen Shot 2020-06-15 at 7.11.05 AM

Rape, incest suspect from Indiana is caught in St. Cloud

The 40-year-old was found in an apartment building.

Rep Tim Miller mn leg

MN rep calls upholding of TX abortion law 'great news for America'

Rep. Tim Miller also outlined a new abortion-related bill he plans to introduce.


'Okay, Minnesota, why are you better than Iowa?'

Should someone taking a road trip travel through Minnesota or Iowa?

'Okay, Minnesota, why are you better than Iowa?'

Should someone taking a road trip travel through Minnesota or Iowa?

Forget Paris, here are 5 European cities that fly under the radar

Twice The Baggage has some alternative destinations in mind for Minnesota travelers.

MSP temporarily loses its flights to London, Amsterdam, Paris, Reykjavik

The government has imposed a travel ban on flights to mainland Europe.

Twice the Baggage: A Minnesotan guide to vacationing in Paris

How to get there, what to do, and how much it will cost you.

Planning your summer vacation? Kayak says head to Europe

The comparison site has revealed its "travel hacks" for 2018.

Rolling Stone's description of Duluth is ... not great

It was written by a Minneapolis journalist, who has since expressed regrets.