At first glance, you might think this photo was taken in Paris. In reality, the French capital, and its famous, towering symbol, are a world away from where I took this shot. I just returned from a weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada, home to dark casinos, over-the-top stage productions, and themed hotels. What looks here like the Eiffel Tower is actually a replica that looms over a Vegas hotel called Paris. They also have a smaller version of the Arc de Triomphe and typically-Parisian art nouveau porticoes over entryway doors.
France isn't the only European country that has inspired hoteliers in Las Vegas. In addition to sipping wine under a fake Eiffel Tower, visitors can take a gondola ride at The Venetian, wander ancient Rome at Caesar's Palace, and experience the era of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table at Excalibur. It's the Old World done anew, complete with the kind of outlandish cheesiness the city of Las Vegas has painstakinly mastered. Nothing can match the real Europe - Roman ruins are exponentially more powerful when they're authentic - but it's still fun to wander the indoor streets of "Venice" or "Paris," taking note of the details builders used to channel these cities' spirits. And though I knew it was just a replica of La Tour Eiffel, I couldn't resist taking a moment to marvel at Vegas's glowing faux tower, camera in hand.