Paris is preeminently the City of Pleasure. It is the cradle of the freshest thought, the newest fashion, and the latest luxury. Within its limits there is little else than sunshine, gaiety, and life. It is the paradise of pleasure-seekers. Each window is an exhibition of art; each square the centre of some carnival; at every step we seem to hear the exclamations of the votaries of joy. Triumphal arches here amaze us, columns appeal to us, statues attract us, theatres invite us, and art museums tempt us to behold their treasures, glowing upon canvas or crystallized in marble. Gardens and parks lure us within their shaded haunts, where music floats among the trees. The boulevards, with their swift currents of tumultuous life, sweeping in opposite directions or circling in brilliant eddies in each open square, confuse and dazzle us as we behold them; while, best of all, historical associations add substantial charms to these ephemeral delights. In the French metropolis, To-day has for a constant background Yesterday. Present and Past here move side by side like substance and shadow. Relics of conquering Romans, souvenirs of the Crusades, tragic mementos of the Reign of Terror, the brilliant pageants and the shame of various dynasties, - all these are mingled here with the most exquisite refinements of the nineteenth century; just as across the gay and fashionable Place de la Concorde falls the grim shadow of the Egyptian obelisk. The fascination of Paris is at least as old as the days of the Roman Emperor, Julian, who, fourteen hundred years ago, called it his "Dear Lutetia." Still more enthusiastically, therefore, after all these centuries of progress, must we also cry, "O Paris! Paris! No city in the world can equal thee! Thou art the unrivaled Queen of beauty, luxury, and pleasure, outshining all competitors in splendor, and without doubt the most attractive, polished, sparkling jewel that glitters in the coronet of Mother Earth."
Palace Of The Luxembourg.
Whenever I have had with me in Paris a friend entirely unacquainted with the city, I have always led him, at the outset, to its unrivaled nucleus, the Place de la Concorde. This is, in my opinion, the most magnificent square in the world. Whichever way the tourist looks - north, south, east, or west - a brilliant boundary confronts him. The spacious area itself causes the unaccustomed visitor to catch his breath in admiration and delight. The first bewildering glance reveals in the centre the well-known obelisk of Luxor, flanked by two sparkling fountains and guarded by a cordon of colossal statues. On one side is the swiftly flowing Seine, spanned by a bridge five hun-dred feet in length; upon another lies the Garden of the Tuileries; a third side opens into the Champs-Elysees; while toward the north a handsome street discloses the majestic portal of the Madeleine. Over the smooth, firm pavement cabs come and go, like insects in the sun or swarms of fireflies in the dusk of evening. Forty artistic shafts in bronze hold up around this area at night their torches of illumination, and two colossal fountains here are probably unsurpassed in symmetry and beauty. At first thought, then, this splendid square, crossed and recrossed continually by joyous crowds, seems to have been appropriately named, "The Place of Peace." But a moment's reflection almost leads one to believe that the title was given ironically. For on the spot where falls to-day the shadow of the obelisk, rose formerly the hideous guillotine, whose glittering blade in swift succession descended on the necks of the ill-fated Louis XVI, beautiful Marie Antoinette, and thousands of the nobles of France. Here, too, the brutal mob assembled day after day to cheer and sing the "Ca ira," as head after head, - young, old, proud, beautiful, and famous, - rolled from the bloody scaffold to mingle in the common basket that awaited them.
The Nucleus Of Paris.
Place De La Concorde.