For hundreds of years, the City of Light has set the stage for larger-than-life characters—from medieval lovers Héloïse and Abelard to the defiant King Henri IV to the brilliant scientist Madame Curie, beloved chanteuse Edith Piaf, and the writer Colette. In this beautifully illustrated book, Susan Cahill recounts the lives of twenty-two famous Parisians and then takes you through the seductive streets of Paris to the quartiers where they lived and worked: their homes, the scenes of their greatest triumphs and tragedies, their favorite cafes, bars, and restaurants, and the off-the-beaten-track places where they found inspiration and love.
From Sainte-Chapelle on the Ile de la Cite to the cemetery Pere Lachaise to Montmartre and the Marais, Cahill not only brings to life the bold characters of a tumultuous history and the arts of painting, music, sculpture, film, and literature, she takes you on a relaxed walking tour in the footsteps of these celebrated Parisians.
Each chapter opens with a beautiful four-color illustration by photographer Marion Ranoux, and every tour begins with a Metro stop and ends with a list of "Nearbys"—points of interest along the way, including cafes, gardens, squares, museums, bookstores, churches, and, of course, patisseries.
SUSAN CAHILL has published several travel books on France, Italy, and Ireland, including Hidden Gardens of Paris and The Streets of Paris. She is the editor of the bestselling Women and Fiction series and author of the novel Earth Angels. She spends a few months in Paris every year.
MARION RANOUX, a native Parisienne, is an experienced freelance photographer and translator into French of Czech literature.
That real France, la France profonde, does exist. Having lived for many years in Paris and speaking fluent French, I know the country well. I love France and the French people and have written this book to share what I have learned. You can follow along as I describe my walks on sections of the 180,000-kilometer network of blazed trails crisscrossing France.
In the first nine chapters of this book I recount the experiences I have had walking in nine very distinct regions of France. Individual chapters are devoted to Auvergne, Finistere-the westernmost part of Brittany, Alsace, the Cevennes Mountains, Provence, Rouergue, the Loire Valley, Emblavez and a section of the pilgrimage trail to Santiago de Compostela-the Way of Saint James.
Much of On the Trail in France is devoted to unexpectedly encountering total strangers, enjoying French food and wine, appreciating nature in all its beauty and fury and exploring French-and other-languages. I met many unforgettable characters, young and old, named and nameless. Elderly raconteurs in Auvergne and Provence. A saucy waitress in Alsace. Precocious children in Finistere and Provence. A Schoolmaster who wanted American pen-pals for his students. A bilingual lady novelist in the Gare de l'Est. Monsieur Prouff, always showing up in a different guise. A modern troubadour. Savvy businesswomen and sleepy soldiers. Students and chefs. Goatherds and dopers. A publican who was a painter. Winemakers and snail wranglers. A phony artist. Penniless pilgrims. They all pass through these pages. And I even had a brief encounter with a serial killer-without learning of his crimes until a year afterwards.
It is almost impossible to write about France without writing about food, and it is through food that we may acquire an understanding of the elusive French character that both intrigues and thwarts us. It is through food that we may grasp the meaning of one of the defining characteristics of France, the mysterious notion of terroir, which I translate as "the soul of the soil."
During my walks I ate peasant fare at rough-hewn tables and gourmet cuisine in elegant dining rooms. Steaks and game. Morels and bilberries. Snails and skate. Jerusalem artichokes. Dishes with exotic names: pounti, far, backeofe, kouign aman, landjager, pommes tapees. And who can know France without knowing her cheeses? I savored Munster and Pelardons and Cabicous, tommes and fourmes and paves. I drank lambic apple brandy in Finistere and neya sussa wine less than a week old in Alsace. A beer brewed from buckwheat. I even tracked down a wine called Clinton.
Visitors may be surprised at the diversity of languages, dialects and cultures evoked in these pages. I met people who could shift effortlessly from French into Breton, Alsatian, Occitan or Provencal. I even discovered one of the world's least-known languages, Welche, that has nothing to do with Wales.
On the Trail in France is a welcome guide for anyone in good health who practices recreational walking and desires to learn more about France and the French. It is my hope that these chapters will not only entertain and inform but encourage readers to venture off the beaten track to discover the human and natural treasures awaiting them.
To start you on your way, I have included a compendium of practical information in a separate chapter entitled "Your Walk on the Trail in France." As an additional enticement, I have included more than forty photographs illustrating some of the sights I saw...on the trail in France.
Every guidebook to Paris is crammed with sites to see during the day, but visitors are often cast adrift once the sun sets and the Louvre, Notre Dame, and other tourist attractions shut their doors. Sadly for those who have retreated into their hotel rooms, it's only when darkness falls that the City of Light shines brightest. Full of as many unexpected detours and delightful digressions as the city itself, award-winning author John Baxter's Five Nights in Paris is the ultimate off-the-beaten-path guide to exploring the French capital after hours.
Baxter leads readers on five evening tours across Paris's great neighborhoods. Each night's itinerary is selected for its connection to one of the five senses: the first, "Sound," explores the great jazz clubs of Saint-Germain-des-Prés; "Taste" samples the eclectic restaurants and bakeries of the Marais; "Touch" brings alive the city's legendary cabaret scene, including Montmartre's nearby Moulin Rouge; "Smell" describes Parisians' love of perfume and takes us to the infamous former opium fumeries along the Bois de Boulogne; and "Sight" traces the favorite haunts of the Surrealist artists, beginning in Montparnasse.
In this enchanting memoir, acclaimed author and long-time Paris resident John Baxter remembers his yearlong experience of giving "literary walking tours" through the city. Baxter sets off with unsuspecting tourists in tow on the trail of Paris's legendary artists and writers of the past. Along the way, he tells the history of Paris through a brilliant cast of characters: the favorite cafés of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Joyce; Pablo Picasso's underground Montmartre haunts; the bustling boulevards of the late-nineteenth-century flâneurs; the secluded "Little Luxembourg" gardens beloved by Gertrude Stein; the alleys where revolutionaries plotted; and finally Baxter's own favorite walk near his home in Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
These places are often tucked away, off the beaten tourist track, and without a guide they're easy to miss: The Jardin de l'Atlantique, out of sight on the roof of Gare Montparnasse. The enchanting Jardin de la Vallée Suisse, invisible from the street, accessible only if you know how to find the path. The Square Boucicaut, its children's carousel hidden inside a grove of oak and maples. Square Batignolles, the shade of the old chestnut trees an inspiration to the painter édouard Manet and poet Paul Verlaine.
Hidden Gardens of Paris features 40 such oases in quartiers both posh and plain, as well as dozens of others "Nearby" to the featured green space. It is arranged according to the geographic sections of the city—Île de la Cité, Left Bank, Right Bank, Western Paris, Eastern Paris—a lively and informative guide that focuses on each place as a site of passionate cultural memory.
Following the contours of history and the geography of the city, Downie sweeps readers on an insider’s gourmet walking tour of Paris and its environs in A Taste of Paris, revealing the locations of Roman butcher shops, classic Belle Epoque bistros serving diners today and Marie Antoinette’s exquisite vegetable garden that still supplies produce, no longer to the unfortunate queen, but to the legendary Alain Ducasse and his stylish restaurant inside the palace of Versailles. Along the way, readers learn why the rich culinary heritage of France still makes Paris the ultimate arbiter in the world of food.
Elaine Sciolino, the former Paris Bureau Chief of the New York Times, invites us on a tour of her favorite Parisian street, offering an homage to street life and the pleasures of Parisian living. "I can never be sad on the rue des Martyrs," Sciolino explains, as she celebrates the neighborhood’s rich history and vibrant lives. While many cities suffer from the leveling effects of globalization, the rue des Martyrs maintains its distinct allure. On this street, the patron saint of France was beheaded and the Jesuits took their first vows. It was here that Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted circus acrobats, Emile Zola situated a lesbian dinner club in his novel Nana, and François Truffaut filmed scenes from The 400 Blows. Sciolino reveals the charms and idiosyncrasies of this street and its longtime residents—the Tunisian greengrocer, the husband-and-wife cheesemongers, the showman who’s been running a transvestite cabaret for more than half a century, the owner of a 100-year-old bookstore, the woman who repairs eighteenth-century mercury barometers—bringing Paris alive in all of its unique majesty. The Only Street in Paris will make readers hungry for Paris, for cheese and wine, and for the kind of street life that is all too quickly disappearing.