“There is Paris—magnificent in itself; and in Paris there is l’article de Paris; there is woman and fashion—the Parisienne! It is the ballet in your opera. It is the fountain in the park. When you think about it, it takes quite a number of days to visit your great salons that have launched upon the world, like a lasso, that pervasive and hackneyed word—but always precious! —that something whose value is as gold. I mean charm! That explains the prestige and attraction of Paris. That sums up its art of giving pleasure and enjoyment. That word, so much the right one, contains everything—the delicacy of the sky, the grouping of public monuments, the gentle patter over stones, the nobility of that princely captive of a river, the elegance of the passing ladies, the luxury of the shops, the harmony of what has been and what is to come, the prettiness of gardens, and above all, what Paul Valery called the most intense power of expression combined with the most intense power of absorption.
Amid the world’s hubbub each city has its speciality. London has its shipping, Amsterdam its precious stones, Budapest traffics in tzigane melancholy, Paris deals in charm. Sao Paolo suggests coffee, Cordova leather, Hamburg furs, Paris—smart women.
And that is the cause of its charm. It is because Paris has worked for centuries to enhance feminine seduction that it distils charm as a bee makes honey. But Paris also owes this speciality to its climate, to the character of its people and to the spirit of emulation of its women. The whole of France shares in it, from the weavers of Picardy to the needle women of Lorraine, from the jet-cutters of Aude to the Breton lace-makers. The whole town collaborates, from the hill of “Menilmuche” with its host of fairy-like working girls, to Passy with its well-to-do customers. It is work all day long, from dawn when the belated reveller crosses the path of the window-cleaner, to dusk when the sparkling festoons of the night-signs hang from the balcony of heaven.”
Music to go along: La Parisienne by Kiddo