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Commentary By Theodore Dalrymple

Paris, City of Blight

Culture Culture & Society

Returning to Paris after an absence of only a few months, I was dismayed by the deterioration it seemed to have undergone in that short time. It struck me as dirty and grossly overcrowded, while the mayor has for a long time been doing everything possible to reduce the city’s beauty in the name of saving the planet. In the former, at least, she is succeeding.

Of course, mass tourism doesn’t beautify anywhere and results in the cheapest kind of commerce, in this case of Eiffel Towers and teddy bears with T-shirts saying that they love Paris. The famous bouquinistes along the quais of the Seine are increasingly giving up on books and turning to tea-towels, baseball caps and key-rings, presumably all made in China; football-crowds of people walk in both directions down any street, badly dressed and with an air either of existential vacancy or of doing a less than pleasurable duty.

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Theodore Dalrymple is a contributing editor of City Journal and a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

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