Tuesday, 23 February 2021

I'm reviewing Quiet Corners of Paris...

 ...by Jean-Christophe Napias with photographs by Christophe Lefébure...

I happened upon this little gem by accident.  I was searching for a completely different title and, because I'm such a terrible typist, the computer came up with the next best thing.  Once it was on screen, I just could not help but look at the blurb and within a couple of minutes it had been bought.  I did then go on to undertake the search I had really meant to make.
About a week later the package containing this book arrived and I was even more enthralled with it in real life than I had been when I saw it on screen.  The photograph on the cover was much more attention grabbing than it had been on screen - Amazon take note, your listing for this book needs a better copy of the cover, the washed-out version on your page does not do the book justice!
Paris is a city that I love to visit, and I haven't had the chance recently.  So, to fully enjoy this experience I ensconced myself on the settee with a coffee and my detailed street map and started to read.
The book is organised by arrondissement beginning with the 1st - Louvre.  Not every arrondissement is included; presumably because they don't all have these special little places of calm and quietude.  The author provides detailed information about the location - how to access each park, square, cloister or whatever - along with information about the nearest metro stop and the hours of opening where appropriate.  In that respect, this book is the travellers' perfect guide.
Along with the practical detail are interesting little facts about each location - sometimes the history, when the place was created, often, where it is a building, who of note is associated with that location.
In each instance there is a photograph.  Even if you can't be bothered the read the text, you can spend a happy hour just gazing at the stunning pictures imagining yourself strolling through a park, along a quiet street or through the cloisters of a museum or hospital.
As I worked my way through the book I quickly realised that my street map wasn't enough.  I moved to the desktop in my office and loaded up Google earth.  As I continued to read I visited as many of the locations as I could, using street view when it was available.
This little book is a keeper and it already has a space on my shelves with all my other books about France.  One other little practicality is that it's not an especially large book, which makes it an ideal travelling companion and it will easily fit in my little backpack.
The book is informative, well written and beautifully illustrated.  As an antidote to lockdown I can thoroughly recommend it.  I can also say that it will be coming with me on my next visit to Paris.

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