Paris Revealed: The Secret Life of a City

de Stephen Clarke (2011)




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This is an alternative behind-the-scenes look at one of the most famous cities in the world by Stephen Clarke (A Year in the Merde and 1000 Years of Annoying the French) who's lived in Paris for nearly 20 years. It's affectionate, witty, and informative, and people should find it fascinating to read even if they're not planning to visit Paris - although if they are, it's a must-have. The chapters are organised around themes: for example, Parisians, who lives where, and where best to people-watch; the city's relationship with water and how terrified its inhabitants are that the Seine is about to flood; fashion (who knew that the most formative fashion designer in Paris was in fact an Englishman?) and Food (how to judge a restaurant by the quality of its salade de chèvre chaud). My personal favourite chapter is the one on the Metro: what it took to tunnel under the Seine in the early 20th century, and the influence of Henri Guimard who designed the first Art Nouveau station entrances. Critics later declared that his lush intertwining vines were too erotic, and many were destroyed, although you can still see examples of Guimard's distinctive and iconic work in the stations of Porte Dauphine, Cité and Louvre-Rivoli. You should also be able to hear the Metro's secret colony of crickets chirruping happily to each other on lines 3, 8 and 9. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this chapter makes you want to go to Paris simply to travel underground on the Metro. How cool is that!

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2011 Editions Bantam Books

Anglaise Langue anglaise | 320 pages

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