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«…but remember that the city is a funny place, something like a circus or a sewer» explains Lou Reed on Coney Island Baby. Sometimes Paris is like a circus in a sewer. There’s dog poo all over the pavements and men in tutus holding up the traffic. There are people who live underground, pale creatures of unhallowed arts who don’t come out for weeks at a time, and there are plastic Marais ladies who match their lapdogs to their sables. There’s a vampire museum with a scholar owner who talks to entombed soldiers in Père Lachaise, and there’s a business district with frightful towers that spike up Mordorishly  over the edge of the city. Tourists picnic where a gallows stood and gripe and grumble in the shade of a ghostly guillotine which shudders with impotent longing. You can go see a bat-plane that the French maintain was the first air-borne machine and then watch a man having a shower on the bar of a bar. And then if you want you can go to the sewer museum and buy a realistic rat that isn’t realistic at all, just grubby, or a vibrating (why?) mouse in the stinky shop. A lovely take-home treat. The city of light is a place where the shadows fill up with doubt, if you know where to look, and I like looking. And not just at Paris, but as I live here it’s a good place to start.

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