I have been doing some of my writing lately in the library of the Institut national d'histoire de l'art, which is housed in an extraordinary space called the Salle Ovale (click here for a 3-D virtual tour) along with the reference section of the Richelieu branch of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Around the oval skylight of the room are the names of the following cities, beginning over the entrance and proceeding clockwise:
When I saw Alexandria, I thought "Great libraries of the world?" but I'm not sure that's right. Sister cities of Paris is right out, given the inclusion of Nineveh and Babylon. Any guesses as to what this group represents?