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The City of Light or the Capital of Sleep?

What makes a city ‘sexy?’ Paris has been called the most romantic city on the planet, but Washington, DC?

Washington, DC has recruited Dr. Ruth Westheimer, now 81 years old and America’s most famous sex therapist, as the Honorary Secretary of Love and Relationships, to help turn DC into the city of love and romance. The plan included the launch of a new Web site called “Date Night DC” at www.datenightsdc.org/

Sex, romance and nightlife do seem to go hand in hand — so, is Paris’ image as lovers’ favorite city waning while the residents are showing their disdain for the city’s own nightlife? According to a recent article in the New York Times, the French are complaining about noise from nearby bars and clubs, to the point of throwing eggs and dumping water on revelers. With heavy fines and over-regulation, the city’s bars and concert halls are struggling to stay alive.

A petition this past November by a group representing the electro music industry called for urgent steps to prevent Paris’s music scene from “being relegated from the ‘City of Light’ to the ‘European Capital of Sleep.'” And in concert with the petitioners, the city hall is trying to promote the city’s nightlife to boost tourism, with their newly launched sight, “Paris Nightlife” at www.parisnightlife.fr/

So, how can we have it all? Perhaps Paris’ own asset is also its liability. We love that the street level of most buildings is commercial with habitation above as it provides for amenities at every turn…but that includes the establishments that create noise as well as odors that might waft up into our windows. Could zoning be an answer — requiring that only certain districts or streets can accommodate such establishments? And how would that change the face of the city?

What dampens the nightlife in Paris, too, is the shutting down of transportation during the night. The Métro doesn’t run much past 1 a.m. except for Saturday nights and the eve of certain holidays, when it runs till 2 a.m. There are “noctilien” buses (night), but it’s a skeleton system, so don’t depend on getting home except on foot or taxi if you’re a night owl. This certainly helps keep the noise down while not contributing to the success of the city’s nightlife.

Hey, if Washington, DC can become the United States most romantic city, than surely Parisians can live with a little noise-making revelry?

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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P.S. Don’t miss seeing the The Golden Age of Holland: From Rembrandt to Vermeer (L’Âge d’Or Hollandais: de Rembrandt à Vermeer) at the Pinacothèque de Paris, on until February 7th. Visit www.pinacotheque.com/ for more information.

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