The picture of the Eiffel Tower is one some of you may already have seen (because it's my favorite from the trip).  At 10pm every night for about 10 minutes thousands of strobes on the tower flash at random.  From a distance it seems to sparkle like a diamond.  They're talking about not doing it anymore because it costs so much to maintain the system (!)  That is perhaps the most egregious example of the French tendency to close doors, about which more later.
Notice the sky.  Bright for 10pm, June 27th, isn't it?  Paris is very far westward in its time-zone.  It's in the same time-zone as Berlin.  In addition, it's also quite far north, about the same latitude as Gander, Newfoundland.  And it's only five days after the Summer Solstice, the longest day of any year in the Northern Hemisphere.  It was, at this point, just getting too dark to read.