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Paris Buildings and Monuments Hardcover – June 1, 1999
All Books, All the Time
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Few cities can approach the quality and number of Paris's distinguished buildings and streetscapes. But if you go there to find those treasures, you'll miss most of them if you lack a good guidebook. Michel Poisson is a Parisian architect who spent the last several years sketching the city's buildings and urban spaces, locating them on maps of his own devising, and providing the requisite data and commentary.
His book is organized by arrondissements, the city's traditionally defined districts, and each entry includes a short building description or comment, a freehand drawing, an address, date, and the names of the closest metro station, the architect, and the patron. The last is a nice touch usually lacking in architectural guides. Nor is that the only unusual element of this book, which is as singular as a Citroën deux chevaux. It is larger and heavier than a normal guidebook--6.5 inches by 9.5 inches, 464 pages, and about 3 pounds--which may limit its portability on the field. The hand-drawn maps are a bit funky, and the illustrations vary from rich and full of character when showing older buildings to simplistic and inexpressive in the case of some newer projects.
Still, it's an amazing effort for one person: 200 maps, 535 entries, 650 drawings, and all the research and prose that goes with them. Poisson is a savvy urban explorer, and he steers readers not only to obvious sights such as the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Centre Pompidou, and Notre-Dame but also to scores of old and new places that you might never find on your own. And while it's easy to get disoriented in this complex city, you won't lose your place in the book--it thoughtfully features a bound-in red ribbon bookmark. --John Pastier
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French
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Top customer reviews
However, reading through it completely I came to appreciate it more. The drawings are all very well done and reveal architectural points and overall themes to buildings that it's hard to capture with photos.
What I liked best, though, were the 3-D maps of each quarter as a whole, with detailed maps of each area within the quarter. These well-drawn maps show the fabric of each area and how the buildings relate to each other and to the open spaces. It also makes it easier to visualize where each building is, if you don't happen to be in Paris when you are reading the book.
Thanks to his carefully thought out design, the author makes it easy for you to find any of these building. First, he has organized the books to follow Paris's system of arrondissements. The book begins with the 1st Arrondisesment and continues, arrondissement by arrondissement, through the 20th Arrondissement.
There's an excellent, handdrawn map for each arrondissement, showing the exact location of each building described in the text. Also, there are smaller maps of neigborhoods within arrondissements, as well as bird's-eye views of larger building complexes such as the Louvre.
There is ample text describing each building, including the name of the architect who designed it and the name of the patron who paid for its construction.
The author shows the location of the Metro station nearest each building and makes it very easy for you to reach each building.