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In Paris in spring, thoughts turn to ... the art show

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The reputed worry in the Culture Ministry here, prior to the great spring art earthquake, is that locals might cut back and stay home. But Parisians aren’t arguing post-modern economics on the Left Bank; they are lining up at museums, particularly the Warhol (120,000 tickets in 24 days), in record numbers.

Americans supposedly go to the ballpark and buy hot dogs to forget their wounded 401(k)s. Here, they ride the metro to the Louvre. As one museum official told Le Monde, “In times of crisis, people need the emotional compensation of nearness.”

That probably translates into great doses of aesthetic meaning for the human soul. But it can also be taken literally: Paris exhibits at the Branly, Orsay, Pompidou, the Petit Palais and Grand Palais, and the Paris Museum of Modern Art, among others, are all clustered within walking distance – something few cities can boast. And in the Paris spring, it’s a nice walk.

France is also looking to other forms of culture. Attracting Hollywood, shockingly, is one. Pending an EU decision in Brussels, the French government is preparing to subsidize overseas film production and roll back restrictive costs – a stricture once thought to be as much a snub to the Hollywood style as to protecting an industry.

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