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Calling on Bibliophiles

I will be travelling to France in the Spring of next year. It is my first trip to France and I will mainly be in Paris. I was wondering if anyone can recommended a good book to read that captures the essence of France, mainly the Parisian lifestyle. Any genre is okay, a novel or historic fiction is fine. As well as non-fiction to capture some of the history. Thank you in advance!

Posted by
784 posts

I just finished "Walks through Lost Paris" by Leonard Pitt. He takes you through 4 walking tours in different areas of Paris, comparing today's Paris with medieval Paris. Lots of pictures showing what is still visible from medieval times, and shares some historical tidbits about people and places.

For a historical novel, I liked "Paris: the Novel" by Edward Rutherfurd. Much of it tells about the building of the Eiffel Tower. I'm getting ready to read it again before my next trip. For a historical novel written by a contemporary of the Era, I found "The Belly of Paris" by Emile Zola fascinating.

Posted by
54 posts

I haven't ordered it yet but "New Paris: The People, Places & Ideas Fueling a Movement" looks good:
https://www.amazon.com/New-Paris-People-Fueling-Movement/dp/1419724037/ref=pd_cart_cp_2_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=MRM8ER2YKP2TQQPX9KXS

And if you are at all into the whole ex-pat/1920s/Hemingway thing, there's "Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway's Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises":
https://www.amazon.com/Everybody-Behaves-Badly-Hemingways-Masterpiece/dp/0544944437/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1498081007&sr=1-1&keywords=everybody+behaves+badly
For my money, a more enjoyable read than Sun Also Rises. Sorry, Ernest.

Posted by
985 posts

Thanks for that recommendation, Dave. I just downloaded "Paris, Paris", as well as "London, The Bibliography", by Peter Ackroyd.

Oh my gosh, Carolyn, I had no idea that Edward Rutherford had written a Paris book. Love, love Edward Rutherford. Thanks for sharing that tidbit!

Posted by
4669 posts

I'll just second the recommendation for Rutherford's "Paris". I'm re-reading it now. He's becoming a habit. I read "London" and "Sarum" before previous trips to those locales.

Posted by
776 posts

You might be interested in the book I just reread, Georges Simenon's The Little Saint which describes life on Rue Mouffetard circa 1900 from the eyes of a street peddler's son who is destined to become a famous painter. Simenon is a pretty fast read. He sets some of his Maigret books along the Canal Saint Martin but, unfortunately, I can't remember the titles.

I second Walks through Lost Paris and the Graham Robb .

Posted by
10047 posts

Another vote for anything written by David Downie, a marvelous writer and storyteller. His Paris book was one of our favorites. Another good book was Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnick.

Posted by
3998 posts

Paris to the Moon, by Adam Gopnik. He lived in Paris, about 20 years ago, with a small child adding neighbourhood experiences.

Posted by
784 posts

I'll add one more suggestion - it actually takes place in medieval England - "Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett. The reason why I suggest it is that it goes into great detail about how they built cathedrals, including arches, and about the development of buttresses. After having read this, I saw so much more when I visited medieval and Gothic buildings in France and Paris.

Posted by
2261 posts

OT but in case someone is interested, David Downie does private walking tours as well. I have not had the pleasure, though I can imagine it would be a great experience.

Posted by
12157 posts

I have Seven Ages of Paris. It's more history of Paris than lifestyle. I think knowing history is a great clue for understanding current culture.