Paris through literature and books


Discovering Paris by books

To continue discovering Paris by imagination, while remaining safe in this context of confinement, Esprit de France reminds you that the best way to escape is certainly reading novels. If the capital has inspired so many filmmakers, it is certainly due to the many writings and authors fascinated by the atmosphere of this city, its history at different times with its neighborhoods and its inhabitants. In a word, do not hesitate to bring out the classics from your library

thumbnail_les_miserables_parespritdefrance.jpgWhy not start with a master on the subject: Victor Hugo and the romantic masterpieces of Notre Dame de Paris and Les Misérables

But if you prefer the naturalist realism of the 19th century, you will certainly choose Emile Zola and his novels, such as L'Assommoir depicting the working class district of Goutte d'Or, Le Ventre de Paris taking place in the central market halls built by Baltard, or Au Bonheur des dames immersing you in the new world of Department Stores. Also don't forget Guy de Maupassant and his Bel ami or Honoré de Balzac and Le Père Goriot. Not to mention the collection of prose poems in Le Spleen de Paris by Charles Baudelaire, their contemporary and poet. 

In a more recent era, let us quote the detective novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra written by Gaston Leroux, the subversive Zazie dans le métro by Raymond Queneau or Patrick Modiano's mysterious novels such as La Place de l'Etoile. The greatest tribute to the post-war Parisian revival remains Paris est une fête by Ernest Hemingway. As a matter of interest, this autobiographical writing was found in a Louis Vuitton trunk at the Ritz Hotel and published posthumously by his widow Mary. 

Why not complete your literary approach with a few Art books the images of which have Paris as a backdrop? thumbnail_9782081332171_parespritdefrance.jpg

As for the photographic images, the albums Paris mon amour and Paris portrait d'une ville bring together famous names from the history of photography: Nicéphore Niepce, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Jean-Loup Sieff, Brassaï, Willy Ronis, whose pictures have forever fixed the vision we have of Paris. From another point of view, the coverage Paris Magnum brings together the photos of the photo journalits of this famous press agency, such as Robert Capa or David Seymour. The latter lingers on the most famous personalities of the capital among whom we can recognize Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean-Louis Barrault, Marguerite Duras, Alberto Giacometti, Edith Piaf and Christian Dior. 

Concerning the history of Paris, you can read the catalog of the Romantic Paris exhibition at the Petit Palais which offers a vast panorama of this spectacular city from the fall of Napoleon until the revolution of 1848. 

As a last suggestion, have a look at the Éditions Parigramme website, you will find a multitude of books on the French capital there, whether they are about architecture, gardens, neighborhoods, walks or its inhabitants…. 

These are some tips as to how to discover Paris and its unique atmosphere