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Every evening, the most famous of all Parisiennes slips into her sequined gown and shines forth in the City of Light: once per hour until dawn, the Eiffel Tower brightens up the night with a dazzling light show. As Balzac wrote, "Oh Paris! They who have not heard thy murmurs, between midnight and two in the morning, know nothing as yet of thy real poetry.” At daybreak, the rising sun reveals the elegant contours of the tree-lined avenues, the Pont des Arts spanning the Seine, the regal glass roof of the Grand Palais, the townhouses surrounded by flowerbeds. The markets proffer their stands brimming with the season’s produce, soon to grace the tables of the finest restaurants as well as the neighborhood bistrots where Parisians love to linger over lunch. Paris, capital of chic and glamour, cultivated, intellectual, artistic, gastronomic…

Its side streets and shady squares are abuzz with the sound of conversations drifting from the cafés, the city’s nerve centers, which can still transform into salons, breeding grounds for new philosophical or literary ideas. Paris’s secret is its capacity for rebirth. The Roman outpost called Lutetia was succeeded by the medieval city of Notre Dame, the Paris of the Revolution, and then the modern metropolis laid out by Baron Haussmann in the 19th century, with its architectural harmony and monuments built for the Universal Exposition of 1900. Today, the city continues to reinvent its districts, like the old storehouses of Bercy, La Villette and Les Halles, while retaining the sources of its charm: its canals and islands, its vineyard in the shadow of Sacré Coeur, its Roman arena, its cemeteries haunted by the famous figures who made Paris their own: Chopin, Modigliani, Molière, Jim Morrison…

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