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Literary, Architectural, Historic and Hidden Paris

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Curiosities of Paris

“A city is nothing if not a vast cabinet of curiosities.”—Dominique Lesbros

Lavishly illustrated with 800 color photographs, this fact-packed treasury (first published in France) leads the reader on a scavenger hunt through the streets of Paris, pointing out overlooked architectural details and structures that once served a useful everyday purpose but whose functions have been obscured by the passage of time.

Organized by subject—fountains and wells; centuries-old shop signs; vestiges of wars and ancient Egypt; hotels of legend; civic measurement devices; traces of rites and superstitions; remarkable trees; sundials and meridians; equestrian Paris; romantic ruins; unusual tombs, stairways, and passageways; religious relics; mosaics; public barometers and thermometers; and more—this delightful guide deepens the reader’s knowledge and appreciation of Paris through the centuries.

Quiet Corners of Paris

Sometimes it seems there isn’t a centimeter in Paris that hasn’t been discovered, described, and recommended. Yet even frequent visitors who know the city well often have the feeling that the “real” city somehow remains elusive.

In Quiet Corners of Paris (also first published in France), the author has found more than 80 of the loveliest, most tranquil, and sometimes hidden places in Paris. Most wouldn’t be considered “destinations”, and certainly not tourist attractions. There are winding lanes that lead nowhere in particular, but that are exquisitely lovely in themselves (one called allée des Brouillards, “fog alley”); rue Georges-Perec, one of the city’s smallest streets, is a mere staircase without a single numbered address. There’s a square in the 15th arrondissement where pétanque players gather in a “sublimely relaxing provincial atmosphere with an almost Mediterranean feel…right down to the sweet scent of pastis.” Each location is illustrated by a beautiful photograph.

The often-overlooked locales include hidden villas, winding lanes, little-known 19th-century passages, serene gardens, and cobblestone courtyards. Some have breathtaking views; others are filled with historic and architectural details, including stone archways, garden follies, boxwood mazes, ornamental statuary, stained glass, and Renaissance fountains.

Literary Paris: A Guide

This literary pilgrimage through Paris follows in the footsteps of 30 writers who made the city their home. Literary Paris profiles and describes more than 100 sites associated with them, including Hôtel de Pimodan/Lauzun, the meeting place of the Club des Haschichins, whose members included Balzac, Dumas, Delacroix, and Baudelaire (where, under a doctor’s guidance, the men were each given a saucer in which a thumb-sized portion of greenish jam—hashish—had been placed; the doctor told them, “This will be deducted from your share in Paradise”) and the salon of Nathalie Barney (according to Colette, a beautiful, rich American with “sea-blue eyes” who seduced many a Parisian society woman. She held parties in her home here, where guests passed through a Greek temple at the bottom of her garden, on whose Doric columns she had engraved “à l’amitié.” Among her guests were Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Sherwood Anderson, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, and Guillaume Apollinaire).

Writers profiled: Molière • Voltaire • The Marquis de Sade • Honore de Balzac • Alexandre Dumas • Victor Hugo • George Sand • Charles Baudelaire • Gustave Flaubert • Jules Verne • Mark Twain • Émile Zola • Arthur Rimbaud • Paul Verlaine • Oscar Wilde • Marcel Proust • Colette • Gertrude Stein • Guillaume Apollinaire • Henry Miller • Janet Flanner • F. Scott Fitzgerald • Ernest Hemingway • George Orwell • Georges Simenon • Simone de Beauvoir • Jean-Paul Sartre • Richard Wright • Albert Camus • James Baldwin

Old-fashioned Corners of Paris

“Taking to roads less traveled during my visit,
I explored the byways of a Paris I’d previously neglected…”

And so, author Christophe Destournelles begins his search to uncover irreplaceable and enchanting places and things that should be described before they vanish from the city. He discovers the city’s only remaining illuminated subway map, an outdoor artesian water fountain, a vintage photo booth, vespasienne, and more. He has lunch at one of the bistros close to his heart (where now-outlawed hardboiled eggs—in their iconic stand—might be found on the zinc counter). Charbons and jazz caves have all but disappeared from the city, as have specialty shops selling stockings, buttons, handmade umbrellas, and old-fashioned sweets. The small but significant details in these pages enrich an armchair pilgrimage filled with romance and history. First published in France.