Everything is subordinated to external appearances here. Being polite means never contradicting anyone; being amiable means babbling anything that comes into your mind—here are the two rules you have to follow in order to be un home charmant. Thinking over everything I have seen here I can say without being mistaken that the people here are not really living, that they are not really tasting of true happiness, and that they do not even have any comprehension of it. An empty brilliance and extravagant insolence in the men, a shameless indecency in the women—apart from these truly I see nothing else. You can imagine how we found all this to our great displeasure.
Denis Fonvizin, Paris 1778
And what would Fonvizin say about Paris 2006? Or for that matter any other city 2006?