Candide and Martin arrive in Bordeaux, France and immediately travel to Paris. There, Candide is surrounded by hangers-on who have heard about his wealth and attempt to take advantage of him by using a variety of tricks. Among them, he and Martin meet the Abbé of Perigord, who takes them to see a new tragedy at the theater. Candide is moved to tears by the tragedy, but a critic seated next to him insults the play viciously between the acts.
Wealth is more of a problem than a solution in the novel. It attracts others who want that wealth, and the tricks of those hangers-on slow Candide and Martin down in their search. Candide's naïve and heartfelt reaction to the play contrasts with the savage “good taste,” of the critic. Once again, the refinements of culture and civilization appear in a negative light when placed next to the innocence of Candide. He can enjoy and be moved by art. The critic cannot.
The Abbé takes Candide and Martin to the house of the Marchioness of Parolignac, where a group of men are gambling and gossiping about the theater. Candide remarks that the Marchioness is much less polite than the Baroness of Thunder-ten-tronckh. Candide speaks to a wise man about art and philosophy, and considers him “another Pangloss.” But the Marchioness complains that he is a nobody, a man who has never had any success. Afterward, the Marchioness takes Candide to her boudoir and seduces him, taking two of his diamonds in the process.
In Paris, Candide seems to think that he might find replacements for what he had in Westphalia. But nothing is as it appears: the noblewoman sleeps with Candide for his diamonds (nothing like the beautiful and pure Cunégonde), the wise man is not respected by anyone (unlike Pangloss), and everyone spends their time gambling and gossiping about the theater.
Leaving the home of the Marchioness, Candide speaks with the Abbé of Perigord, telling him the story of his adventures. The Abbé asks if Candide has received any letters from Cunégonde, and he replies that he has not. The very next day, a letter arrives from Cunégonde, saying that she is staying in a Parisian hotel. Candide goes to see her, but is told by a servant that she must remain behind a curtain because the light hurts her eyes. Candide gives this “Cunégonde” diamonds and a bag of gold, but she turns out to be an imposter: the whole thing has been set up by the Abbé. Candide and Martin are arrested for being foreigners and brought to northern France, where they are forced to board a ship for England.
The end of this chapter completes the image of Paris as a city of trickery and theatrical deception. The false letters and staged reunion go along with the theater scene and the superficial nobility of the Marchioness—everything in the Paris of the novel appears to be fake and organized around making money. The staged reunion in this chapter resembles the first reunion of Candide and Cunégonde; the Abbé has copied it from Candide's story.