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New-look Paris looking for visitors



REVISITING HERITAGE: In new-look Paris, the magic of the old still holds sway for many people.

Smoke-filled cafés where Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre sat and sipped coffee, the Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa and now, of course, the Holy Grail under the Louvre thanks to Dan Brown may be images that most people carry of Paris. But this city known for its magical blend of fashion, romance and history is all set to re-invent itself.

Paris is on a solo road trip for the first time with Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau in association with Maison de la France marketing a brand new look.

From plenty of more to do near the must-see tourist spots, if it took a day to walk through the galleries of the Louvre, tourists are likely to need to add another day just for the new attractions.

"The city has been going through changes at many levels. There is a new traffic circulation plan and there are cultural events. The world is opening up and Paris has an important place in tourism. Twelve per cent of the people living in the city work in tourism,'' says Paris Tourism Office director Paul Roll now on a visit to India.

And going all out to market itself in this new "avatar", there are plenty of other reasons to visit the city apart from absorbing culture. With a separate theme for every month, March is for well-being, April for all things green, May for sports and December for sparkling lights. Those interested in the city only for high fashion -- especially with a new Louis Vuitton boutique opened, which gets as many visitors a day as the Eiffel Tower -- may come back with bags full of couture, but they have missed the big sales in January. Going beyond just the visitors, Paris wants its residents to fall in love with its heritage once again. "A speedway on the Seine has been closed for a month and the area has been turned into a beach," says Mr. Roll. While the magic of the old may hold sway for many people, Paris has added plenty of new in the old to ensure that there is just that one more reason to put the city on your wish-list itinerary.

-- Mandira Nayar

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