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Around and About Paris, Volume 1: From the Dawn of Time to the Eiffel Tower (Arrondissements 1 - 7) Paperback – 1995
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From Library Journal
Vallois, a 30-year resident of Paris, has written three wonderful volumes about her favorite city. She has spent seven of those years walking down every one of its streets, reading every available book written about it, interviewing old-timers, and then compiling all her research into these three extraordinary books. As each chapter unfolds, the reader walks with Vallois district by district along the streets of Paris, sharing in the art, literature, music, history, politics, science, religion, economics, entertainment, crime, passion, and local color of each unique arrondissement. The scenery changes from the past to the present, bringing Paris alive with tales from lifelong residents. Vallois's in-depth knowledge of the city and her acute attention to detail, delivered with fast-moving style, will be intriguing for both travelers and scholars. Recommended for larger libraries.AStephanie Papa, Baltimore Cty. Circuit Court Law Lib., Towson, MD
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"For in-depth coverage of the sights, sounds and smells of Paris, nothing tops Thirza Vallois' Around and About Paris books.
Top customer reviews
When I learned that the updated Volume 1 of Thirza Vallois' three volume Around and about Paris was available for the Kindle, I flashed back to the day that I first purchased the printed book at Shakespeare & Co. in Paris. Minutes later, I stood with book in hand behind Notre Dame on the quiet corner of rues des Chantres and Chanoinesse - near where Medieval lovers Heloise and Abelard lived and loved - and learned of their tragic story in its pages.
I found that day that Around and About Paris is not only a walking guide, but also an engrossing read since Thirza - a Sorbonne trained historian - titillates the reader's imagination with stories and intimate historical details.
One example: Standing in Ile de La Cite' in the 4th arrondissement that first day, following Vallois' directions, I continued to 10 Rue des Chantres and then to no. 9 Quai aux Fleurs where canon Fulbert's home and grounds stood in 1118 -the year he hired 39 year old teacher Pierre Abelard to teach his 17 year old niece Heloise.
Heloise fell in love with Abelard -described as a "great master of rhetoric and dialectics" - a "handsome and brilliant" and charismatic poet and an accomplished musician who lured throngs of rapt Medieval students to the left bank. Heloise became pregnant and was sent to Brittany to bear Abelard's son, while Abelard was castrated by a vengeful Fulbert.
Pretty exciting stuff! Other guidebooks note only that two medallions at 9 Quai aux Fleurs represent the famous medieval lovers.
The book added details about how Heloise and Abelard were never reunited until Abelard's death at age 63 when Heloise secretly recovered his body and kept it in a private chapel at her nunnery till she died twenty years later (also at age 63). After her death, they were buried together for over 200 years until a prudish nun reburied them separately in 1497.In 1792, they were moved again into one coffin separated by a lead partition ordered by the Revolutionary authorities.
Finally, I read that they now rest side by side at Pere Lachaise cemetery in the 20th. I closed the book and dropped the rest of my plans for that day to race there and visit this couple I had come to know, at rest in elaborately carved adjoining tombs.
The three volume Around and About Paris covers all of Paris, in the order of the numerical arrondissements, and all versions are written to be carried by someone exploring Paris on foot. Volume 1 is now even more convenient in digital reader format.
I love to carry one of the books and randomly turn to the pages covering wherever I happen to be to see what is of interest nearby. Though I visit Paris often and know the city well, these books include numerous fascinating stories I never knew about otherwise familiar streets and buildings
An exciting example is in the second arrondissement. I was near café La Chope du Croissant on Rue du Croissant one day, and followed Thirza's directions to the café as I read how late on July 31, 1914 Jean Jaures, founder of the socialist paper L'Humanite' was killed at a café table when Raoul Villain drew the curtain from outside the window, and fired two bullets into him for opposing World War I.
As instructed, I entered the café to find the displayed front page of the August 1, 1914 L'Humanite' announcing the murder, and also the bloodstain still apparent on Jaures' table.
Thirza also brings life to the streets of Paris through her personal impressions and historical or literary quotations.
When at the Place de Furstemberg near the Delacroix Museum in the sixth arrondissement, I read that Thirza believes the Place to be a "bewitching gem by night, when its central street-lamp diffuses gentle light over the paving and over the four trees that cluster around it" while Henry Miller saw the Place as "A deserted spot, bleak, spectral at night, containing in the centre four black trees..."
I raced back there that night to decide for myself.
Each of the three volumes covers about a third of the city, grouped by arrondissement in the numerical order of Paris growth, and introduces in detail the history of that volume's arrondissements and their connection to each other and the rest of the city. Each arrondissement is further defined in historic and geographic detail inits own chapter, with maps and text to guide the reader on foot.
I have read many Paris guidebooks, but these are unique - and now the first volume is even more accessable through digital media.
After I'd read all the books, which cover the 20 arrondissements of Paris inside the Peripherique, I asked the writer (who was helpfully accessible) if she would next be walking the banlieues (ie the suburbs outside the Peripherique, more fascinating areas) but she said she simply couldn't face any more of that. Clearly she had given her heart and soul to this series and needed a rest. Who knows, she may since have written about the banlieues. I must check.
When you are ready to begin to peel the layers back and begin to understand the history, culture and the events that informs our knowledge of the Paris of today, this is your book.
Vallois is an academic who has researched her subject for many, many years. That is clear. Her writing comes from primary sources and is not a compendium of other guide book writer's materials--which is what you find in the typical guide book today. Perhaps some like to have their reading already digested. I personally like to read the rich text, replete with vibrant descriptions and insider tips.
Thank you, Mdme, Vallois. I look forward to ebook updates on the other two of your Around and About Paris volumes.
I downloaded Volume 1 to my Kindle (and the accompanying maps to the iPhone) and started an armchair tour of the greatest city in the world. About an hour later I ordered all three paperback volumes.
It is almost impossible for a writer to get the right balance between detail and overview. Ms. Vallois is unbelievably good at this. Her ability to track down relatively obscure but highly interesting facts is phenomenal. And she knows when enough is enough.
Her guides are, hands down, the best way to learn about Paris: seeing it with your own eyes, on walks through time. If you bring a good imagination, you will be treated to tidbits of the past that come alive through her descriptions.
For years, my favorite guidebook has been the Cadogan City Guide to Paris published in 1993. When Cadogan decided to discountinue publishing walking guides, they went to a new format and lost their way. Thirza Vallois has come to the rescue.
You will be grateful for the gifts Paris offers found through her writing.
The thought of carrying this around as a tourist seems like a nightmare! I feel as though I totally wasted my money!
Do not buy the Kindle version - buy the book instead!
Most recent customer reviews
I bought 13-20 arr. first; liked it so much that I got the 1-7 arr.Read more