Read Paris, Paris: Journey Into the City of Light Online

Authors: David Downie

Tags: #Travel, #Europe, #France, #Essays & Travelogues

Paris, Paris: Journey Into the City of Light

BOOK: Paris, Paris: Journey Into the City of Light
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P
RAISE FOR
P
ARIS
,
P
ARIS

“The delightful and insightful essays in
PARIS,
PARIS
meld history, atmosphere, and observations on Paris places, Paris people, and Paris phenomena.”

Chicago Tribune
“Downie is a saunterer, wandering down the narrow ancient streets of the Île de la Cité, picnicking in storied graveyards like Père-Lachaise, observing a seduction at Jardin du Luxembourg with a birder’s patience … captures the sort of people and places missed by those jetting from starred bistros to hotels with showers.”
—Philadelphia Inquirer
“David Downie’s prose illuminates Paris with an unequaled poignancy and passion. He understands and evokes the soul and the substance of the city with a critic’s intelligence and a lover’s heart. He makes me want to live in Paris again.”
—D
ONALD
G
EORGE
, contributing editor,
National Geographic Traveler
“Downie brilliantly upholds the American expat tradition of portraying the City of Light with an original and endearing touch.”
—J
OHN
F
LINN
, former travel editor,
San Francisco Sunday Chronicle
“If there is one book I’d read before heading to the City of Light, P
ARIS
,
P
ARIS
is it. Downie, a longtime Paris resident and roamer, writes with knowledge and verve, pinning down the funny and the sublime as he captures on his canvas the quirks, foibles, and follies, and the peculiar mystery of the people and places, that make up this wonderful city.”
—H
ARRIET
W
ELTY
-R
OCHEFORT
, author of
French Toast
and
French Fried
“All visitors to Paris who want their eyes opened and their knowledge widened should buy David Downie’s irresistible collection of Paris essays. Take the book with you on walks and be astonished at his sense of detail and place; read it in bed or over a glass of wine in a café, and be introduced to a Paris few know. The text is immaculately complemented by Alison Harris’s beautiful and evocative photographs.”
—A
NTON
G
ILL
, author of
Il Gigante
and
Peggy Guggenheim
“Beautifully written and refreshingly original … Curious and attentive to detail, Downie is appreciative yet unflinching in describing his adopted home … makes us see [Paris] in a different light.… There’s a deft portrait of the driven, self-created designer Coco Chanel, an acid portrait of the Brutalist modernizer Georges Pompidou, an evocation of the hardworking boat people of the Seine, and historical passages that effortlessly recall lost worlds in vieux Paris.”

San Francisco Chronicle
“Gives fresh poetic insight into the city … a voyage into ‘the bends and recesses, the jagged edges, the secret interiors’ [of Paris].”
—Departures
“A quirky, personal, independent view of the city, its history, and its people. Residents will recognize a place they can vouch for and not the clichés so frequently conjured up to match the legends. Visitors and newcomers are bound to find P
ARIS
,
P
ARIS
reliable company as they discover the city’s beauties and pleasures and its problems too.”
—M
AVIS
G
ALLANT
“When good Americans die, Oscar Wilde wrote, they go to Paris. Don’t wait that long. David Downie’s new book reflects the city and its light with such power that its title says it twice.
PARIS,
PARIS
shimmers with wit and mesmerizes with wisdom. With splendid photographs by Alison Harris, it is, as the French would say,
un must.”
—M
ORT
R
OSENBLUM
“Like the guide who leads us through
The Hermitage
and its history in Sokurov’s
Russian Ark
, David Downie is the master of educated curiosity. With him we discover Paris, a seemingly public city that is, in fact, full of secrets—great lives, lives wasted on the bizarre; forgotten artisans; lost graves (lost till now); the
‘papillons nocturnes’;
and the
‘poinçonneur des Lilas.’
I have walked some of the city’s streets with him, and reading this book is just as tactile an experience.”
—M
ICHAEL
O
NDAATJE

ALSO BY DAVID DOWNIE

Quiet Corners of Rome

Paris City of Night

Food Wine Burgundy

Food Wine Rome

Food Wine Italian Riviera & Genoa

Cooking the Roman Way: Authentic Recipes from the
Home Cooks and Trattorias of Rome

Enchanted Liguria: A Celebration of the Culture, Lifestyle and Food of the Italian Riviera

La Tour de l’Immonde

The Irreverent Guide to Amsterdam

Un’altra Parigi
(co-author with Ulderico Munzi)

Copyright © 2005, 2011 by David Downie
Photographs copyright © 2005, 2011 by Alison Harris

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Broadway Paperbacks, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
www.crownpublishing.com

Broadway Paperbacks and its logo, a letter B bisected on the diagonal, are trademarks of Random House, Inc.

Originally published in slightly different form in the United States by Transatlantic Press, Fort Bragg, California, in 2005.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Downie, David.
Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light / David Downie;
photographs by Alison Harris.
1. Paris (France)—Description and travel. 2. Paris (France)—Social life and customs. 3. Paris (France)—Guidebooks. I. Title.
DC707.D69 2011
914.4′3610484—dc22          2010040397

eISBN: 978-0-307-88609-5

Cover design by Whitney Cookman
Cover photograph © by Trevillion

v3.1

This book is dedicated to
the memory of our dear friend Barbara Bray,
who shared her wit and humor with countless friends and strangers,
filling Paris with life-enhancing light

Contents

Cover

Other Books by This Author

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Photographs

Foreword by Diane Johnson

By Way of Introduction

PARIS PLACES

It’s the Water: The Seine

A Day in the Park: The Luxembourg Gardens

A Lively City of the Dead: Père-Lachaise Cemetery

François’s Follies: Building Afresh in a Museum City

Island in the Seine: Île Saint-Louis

Montsouris and Buttes-Chaumont: The Art of the Faux

Going Underground

Place des Vosges

Belly Ache: Les Halles Redux (Again)

Hit the Road Jacques

PARIS PEOPLE

Coco Chanel

Les Bouquinistes

Midnight, Montmartre, and Modigliani

The Boat People of the Seine

Meeting Moreau

The Perils of Pompidou

Keepers of the Craft: Paris Artisans

Dear Dead Vincent van Gogh

Beaumarchais’s Marais

Madame X’s Seduction School

PARIS PHENOMENA

In the Spring

La Ville Lumière: Paris, City of Light

Of Cobbles, Bikes, and
Bobos

Philosophy au Lait

Sidewalk Sundae: What Makes Paris Paris

Vie de Chien:
A Dog’s Life

Why the Marais Changed Its Spots

Night Walking

Grave Situations

The Janus City, or, Why the Year 1900 Lives On

Life’s a Café

Acknowledgments

About the Author

Photographs

Fishermen on the Seine
, 1997

Luxembourg Gardens, Shadow of Chairs
, 1994

Père-Lachaise, Cupid
, 2005

Light and shadow with figure
, 1989

Île Saint-Louis
, 1990

Banisters, boulders, and trees, Buttes-Chaumont
, 1999

Manhole cover, tool, and shadow
, 1991

Place des Vosges
, 1995

Les Halles
, 1999

Parvis Centre Georges Pompidou
, 2010

Statue and reflections
, 1997

A
bouquiniste
box
, 2005

Place du Tertre
, 2005

Bollard and lines
, 2005

Coiffure pour âmes
(hairdresser for souls)
, 1994

Concierge à droite
(concierge to the right)
, 1989

11th-arrondissement workshop
, 1989

View from cemetery, Auvers sur l’Oise
, 1999

Beaumarchais and Gay Pride Parade
, 2002

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