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You Know Paris.

By Phil Guidry

You think you know Paris.

You know Montmartre, and you know the Pompidou. You know where not to eat in the Latin Quarter. You know about the fading daylight falling on the waters of the Left Bank, you know how you can practically hear the history marching through the boulevards, and yes, you even know about that Tower, that ridiculous, incredible Tower - never has there been a more timeless, powerful symbol for a city.

What can be said about Paris that hasn't already been fantasized, immortalized on stage and screen, chiseled in the annals of time, and forever ingrained in our romantic consciousness?

Paris doesn't belong to the Parisians, or even to France. It belongs to all mankind, and in many ways it is the capital of the world. How many hopeless, lovestruck vagabonds have tried to learn French, just to have the privilege of living in this city?

It actually wears on you after a while, this constant bombardment of opulence and elegance, this architectural and cultural overkill. On every street, on every block, there's a building that would easily be the most significant structure in most other cities. But here… sorry, no, I'm afraid it's just another five-hundred year old building.

Legend has it that, during the Nazi occupation of Paris, Adolf Hitler repeatedly asked the impassioned question, "Is Paris burning?" It makes perfect sense for this question to be asked by the leader of the Master Race - as long as Paris remained standing, the idea of German superiority lacked any credibility whatsoever.

When the turn of the millennium approached, every city in the world launched into a frenzy, eager to display their beauty and importance. But Paris, the city where Jules Verne so eloquently dreamed, exuded a stately confidence - it had always been the city of the future, thanks to a bold appreciation for its past.

Leaving Paris is enough to break any romantic's heart. The streets, carved by the whims of royalty and the blood of peasantry, constantly remind you of its endless appeal.

And it's that appeal which confirms what you've felt all along: not that you want to come back, but that you will.



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