Sunday, 28 June 2015

A guide to the ruins of Paris

At the end of the Commune in 1871, Paris was a burned out shell. A few short months later, tourists were returning to the city, not now to visit the monuments and sites, but rather to experience the ruins first hand. A surprising guide book helped them find their way around.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Challenge 10: The vomiting god and species of spaces

Could I track down the location of an unusual Paris façade and unveil the story behind this building's cover? If the jacket proved relatively straightforward to find, the contents of the book were richer than first imagined!

I enjoy receiving unusual missions, and the one sent by reader Dave was atypical to say the least. “Somewhere in the 16e arrondissement is a building with a vomiting man sculpted into the façade,” he wrote. “Please can you tell me where it is and the story behind it?

Monday, 4 May 2015

All neon in the city of light

It’s not often that I review novels on this blog but I was intrigued by the pitch for Dan Gennoe’s “All Neon Like Love”. Add in the fact that the book features London and Paris as two of its major characters, as well as the opportunity it would give me to interview someone who seemed like he might have something interesting to say and I was sold.

Having said that, I’m now not actually going to review the book as such. This is a blog about Paris, and it is how the city is represented in the novel that interests me. Fortunately, the Paris chapters are the strongest parts of the novel anyway, with landscapes that play a real role in driving the narrative. More than London, it is also a city that provides both comfort to the main character and drives him closer towards insanity. But more on that in a minute.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Parisian who travelled through Paris

François Maspero, who died last weekend, was a celebrated publisher, author, journalist and translator, but for me he will always be known as the writer of a unique travel book centred on the Paris suburbs.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Tracking Charles de Gaulle in Petit Clamart

Given the ubiquitous nature of the name today – on airports and train stations, avenues and public buildings – it may be assumed that Charles de Gaulle was universally popular in France. And yet during his time as President, he was the target of over 30 assassination attempts. Most schemes barely got off the drawing board, but one came within centimetres of success. Finding myself close by to the scene of that attempt, I went in search of those significant centimetres.
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