Art: Paris at the Cleaners

San Francisco is a pastel city; Caracas is gaudily bright. And Paris, for generations, has been elephant grey. But the grime that made it grey is vanishing in a flurry of scrubbing that would shame a Baltimore housewife. Reason: a law passed by Napoleon III in 1852. decreeing that all buildings in Paris should be cleaned every decade, has finally gone into effect.

The Place de la Concorde now gleams a pale ochre; the massive Corinthian columns of the Madeleine glow a soft pink; the Louvre no longer tattles of neglect. Years of recorded tourist history ("Ronald loves Irma," "Vincenza e Giorgio,"...

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