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France vs. Amazon

PARIS — Purveyors of poetry and prose are part of the traditional way business is done in France, where the small shopkeeper is cherished. For the time being at least: In the age of Amazon, the institution is under siege as web-based retailers threaten the livelihood of small business owners by offering cut-rate prices online.

Parisians on love: Remove those padlocks, you naïve fools

The locks people from all over the world put on Paris bridges are meant to symbolize everlasting love. Locals are skeptical.
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Two girls attach a padlock on a fence of the Pont de l'Archeveché bridge behind Notre-Dame (Our Lady) cathedral in Paris, on September 13, 2011. Lovers often throw the key into the river Seine as a sign of undying love, or keep it and open the padlock when they next return to the French capital. (JOEL SAGET /AFP/Getty Images)

The last time I was in Paris, I wondered why so many locks were attached to bridges and railings.

I have seen similar locks in Prague and in Budapest, but that’s nothing compared to Paris. Some Parisian bridges are completely covered with them.

I always assumed people put locks on bridges to symbolize that the place has made a profound impact on them and that a part of their heart will always be in Paris, Prague, Budapest, Taiwan, or wherever.

This week, I became padlock-enlightened when I read this piece in The New York Times. The padlocks, apparently, are symbols of the visiting couples’ everlasting love.

Agnes C. Poirier writes in the Times article:

“Once discreet, doing their deed at night, visitors soon acted in broad daylight, in pairs, photographing each other in front of their locks, and videotaping the throwing of the keys into the Seine…..For couples visiting from all over the world, these locks were symbols of their everlasting love. Indeed, in other cities the locks have also caught on as an expression of passion — in Seoul, Budapest, Rome and Tokyo. Living in one of the world’s most visited cities, with 27 million visitors a year, and supposedly the world’s capital of romance, Parisians should have guessed from the beginning that this strange ritual had to do with the fantasy of everlasting love.” 

Locks and love? That one, I must admit, I never saw coming. Locks and lust, I can see. But what do locks have to do with love?

By the sounds of things, this is the question Parisians are asking, as well.

Instead of sharing the world’s — however banal — celebration of everlasting love, Parisians are apparently getting increasingly irritated by people’s misunderstanding what true love means. 

Poirier writes that behind love — at least love French-style — lies the idea of freedom, not commitment:

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Chatter: Who is - and isn't - a 'Friend of Syria'?

The Friends of Syria meeting isn't very friendly, George Zimmerman has a lot of money to raise, and the child victims of Argentina's "Dirty War" get some kind of justice.
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Graphic. (Antler Agency/GlobalPost)
The Friends of Syria meeting isn't very friendly, George Zimmerman has a lot of money to raise, and the child victims of Argentina's "Dirty War" get some kind of justice.
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Louis Sarkozy, French president's teenage son, accused of throwing tomato, marbles at policewoman

President Sarkozy took time out from campaigning for re-election to meet the officer and apologize for his son's behavior, which he apparently described as "the unfortunate act of a child."

Mona Lisa as she was meant to be seen?

A copy of Leonardo da Vinci's painting is found in Prado shedding new light on iconic image
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Restored copy of Mona Lisa painted by one of Leonardo da Vinci's assistants was shown at the Prado Museum in Madrid yesterday for the first time. (JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

Unlike more recent geniuses, the old masters of painting did not work alone. They had plenty of staff working in their studios to help prepare paints and do menial tasks and learn while watching. Leonardo da Vinci's studio was set up this way.

The Prado Museum in Madrid has rediscovered what it believes to be a copy of Leonardo's Mona Lisa painted at roughly the same time as Leonardo was creating his iconic masterpiece.

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Oscars: The Artist a big score for a very French film

Oscars bring joy to French film industry and confirm Hollywood's love affair with France.
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Uggie the dog, the real star of "The Artist" was not nominated for an Oscar. Controversy! (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

The theme of this year's Oscars: France, Paris and France, Paris again. The Artist, the silent black and white film made by Frenchman Michel Hazanavicius, is the hot favorite for Best Picture and garnered 10 nominations. But Paris figures in a pair of American films nominated for Best Picture. Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris," and Martin Scorsese's "Hugo," which looks at one of the founding fathers of French cinema, Georges Melies. In fact, the Scorsese film has 11 nominations.

The French capital is even included among the nominees for Best Animated Feature Film where "A Cat in Paris" is among the nominees.

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Beckham says, "non" to Paris

Football superstar and global brand will play another two years for LA Galaxy
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David Beckham hands over an LA Galaxy shirt to a fan in Melbourne Australia after a recent exhibition game. Beckham will continue to play for the Galaxy after a rumored move to Paris St. Germain fell through (WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

Paris, Posh and Becks. It seemed like a menage made in heaven - at least to the Qatari owners of Paris St. Germain, one of France's biggest soccer clubs.  But it is not to be.

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An American in Paris dies

George Whitman, owner of Shakespeare and Company book store, passes away
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Shakespeare and Company, Paris landmark for generations of Americans. (MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)
George Whitman, owner of the famous Paris bookstore, Shakespeare and Company has died
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