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Paris to the Past: Traveling through French History by Train Kindle Edition

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Length: 401 pages Word Wise: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews


“[Caro] is an unabashedly enthusiastic guide. Her love for the places she visits is contagious.” — Los Angeles Times

“A keen, if sometimes breathless guide to monarchical France and its architecture.” — Wall Street Journal

“Ina Caro . . . has spent her life studying and writing about France, and she has crammed all of her knowledge into this delightful travel guide.” — NPR

About the Author

Ina Caro, author of the best-selling The Road from the Past, is an authority on medieval and modern French history. She lives in New York with her husband, the acclaimed biographer Robert A. Caro.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1228 KB
  • Print Length: 401 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0393078949
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (June 27, 2011)
  • Publication Date: April 16, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005459QZG
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #260,616 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Anne S. Headley on July 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this book. I've been to France several times, and will continue to travel there as often as health and money permit. I don't know of another book that allows for the traveler who is committed to public transportation. Not all of us want to stress ourselves by renting a car - it is supposed to be a vacation, right? Like Caro, I'm enchanted by St. Denis, and marvel that it is usually ignored by travel guides. Maybe that's for the best, considering the crowds the author describes at Versailles. You can have hilarious adventures on trains and connecting buses or taxis. I look forward to following Caro's advice in an upcoming trip in discovering some new places.
My rating of four stars instead of five is due to the lack of pictures. And I'm wary of little sketchy maps such as she includes - they give no idea of distances.
This is not your basic guidebook. This is for you if you already own the basics (Rick Steves or the Lonely Planet) and want to do some unique exploring on your own. No tour guide necessary. Just get a train pass and a carnet of metro tickets and go. Or wait - keep the train pass days for the TGV trips and go with the day rates for nearer destinations - but you already knew that, right?
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By KW Traveler on July 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This concise review of French history through the architecture throughout France is a really interesting presentation of what could be very dry. The sights that we've seen and want to see come to life through this narrative. It is written in short chapters and provides good detail to get to these locations. Once there, the sites are much more interesting having read the book. If you're going to France and you like architecture, read this book before you go!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By M. L. Asselin VINE VOICE on September 4, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The recipe Ina Caro followed in writing "Paris to the Past: Traveling through French History by Train," was simple, if somewhat arbitrary: write a gist of the history of Paris (and so of the kingdom and empire of France) based on extant landmarks. Or, conversely, write a kind of travel guide to historical Paris arranged chronologically. The landmarks, naturally, must be centered about Paris; the means of transportation to get there (or at least in the general vicinity), by train--to include regional rail and subway, the "Metropolitan." The landmarks, with few exceptions, couldn't be much more than an hour away from Paris. Focus on the history of the places you'll go--the idea being to see the development of France through the art and architecture of the places visited in historical progression--but throw into the mix your personal recollections about your actual travel experiences.

The arbitrary elements are clear--travel by train and restrict that travel to about an hour--and not unreasonable. As travel becomes faster and more convenient, one can imagine that one day all of France could be covered under such a recipe. But it works. The first stop, Saint-Denis, for instance, is a relatively short (20 min) Metro ride to a northern suburb; a later destination, Chartres, an easy one-hour shot from Paris. At first, I thought that the choice of locations seemed peculiarly non-Parisian: relatively few destinations covered in the book are in Paris proper. Quickly, though, I came to appreciate the thinking behind the choices. How often in touring a place do we group our visits by location and so get a smattering of different periods, and so varying ideas and styles, all in one confusing blur?
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38 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Kenyon on September 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I happened to see the author, Ina Caro, interviewed by Charlie Rose to promote her book. The only two words in French that she pronounced, "Fontainbleau" and "Carcassonne," she butchered with a heavy American accent. As another reviewer has written, Ms. Caro admits that she doesn't even speak French!

There are absurdities in this book: why break her rule about taking only day trips so that she could be back in Paris "in time for dinner" to include a trip to La Rochelle--approximately 250 miles from Paris? What's the point? I live in Paris and have been to La Rochelle numerous times and I can testify that there are plenty of places just as interesting to visit as La Rochelle that are not 250 miles from Paris!

Then there's the château of Vaux le Vicomte, which Ms. Caro implies is accessible by train. Wrong. The only way to get there, besides driving, is to take the train to Melun and then pay for a taxi to Vaux le Vicomte and back or board the "Chateaubus" shuttle on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from April through November.

Now if you want a useful and practical guide to discovering "the real France" from Paris, I enthusiastically recommend "An Hour from Paris," by the Paris-basesd English writer Annabel Simms. Her book will not suggest taking the TGV to La Rochelle or going to the chateaux of the Loire for the day, but boarding a train that will take you to such fascinating places as the historic town of Provins [once the third-largest city in France], famous for its roses and its medieval fortifications; or to picturesque Moret-sur-Loing, where the painter Alfred Sisley spent most of his life--all within just one hour from leaving the station. Then you discover these places on foot.
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