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Paris to the Past: Traveling through French History by Train Hardcover – June 27, 2011
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Ina Caro's Paris to the Past has convinced me that I must visit France again very soon, and this time I know who my guide will be. Even the most hardened Francophobe won't be able to resist Caro's charms and infectious enthusiasm for the great stories of French history. This is one of the most captivating and original travel books in years. --Gay Talese"
It is hard to imagine a more enchanting or more brilliantly conceived book. With Ina Caro as your guide, you will fall in love with French history. Ancient castles and cathedrals come to life through her marvelous stories; biographical gems capture the lives of memorable kings and queens. But most of all, you will fall in love with Ina Caro herself with her infectious love of history, food and architecture, her husband and life itself. --Doris Kearns Goodwin"
This book is animated by love on every page: love of French history, love of ancient pageantry, palaces, and cathedrals, and love of the historian husband who accompanies her on her wanderings. Paris to the Past is guaranteed to enrich the experience of both newcomers to France and veteran travelers alike. --Ron Chernow, author of Washington: A Life"
Read Ina Caro's wonderful Paris to the Past, fall in love again with the most beautiful city in the world, and start packing your bags. --Robert Massie, author of Nicholas and Alexandra"
With charming humor and easy erudition, Ina Caro s Paris to the Past is an exuberant journey from the City of Light to the outlying monuments of its storied, glorious, peculiar, and even culinary past. Ushered from Romanesque church to Gothic cathedral, from gilded bronze doors to walled cities, from Joan of Arc to Marie de Rohan to Rochefoucauld, we travel with our companionable, piquant narrator into the vagaries and unexpected corners of time and place. This is a gem of a book-- part history, part travelogue, part love affair impossible to put down, until that is, we pack it for Paris. --Brenda Wineapple, author of Genet: A Life"
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Top Customer Reviews
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?
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?Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really like Ina Caro's writing. This is the second book of hers that I have read on France. I read this just before our three week trip to France this spring and it was very... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Diane C. Glassey
Ina does an amazing job on research and bringing history to a common language. I enjoy her concept of learning and visiting at the same time.Published 6 months ago by Patricia
One of the best travel books I know. Ina Caro does an excellent job of merging a sense of culture, history and travel to awaken one's imaginan=tion when traveling. Read morePublished 12 months ago by eclectic reader
Love this book! Read a library copy and loved it so much I downloaded. Learning some of the history of these places makes it so much better than just looking a tourist brochures!!!Published 13 months ago by Emma Davey
I was planning a train trip from Paris to Mont St. Michel and got advice from a contributor on Trip Advisor to get this book. Read morePublished 14 months ago by nancy flemming
Marvelous guide to day trips around Paris, by a person sensitive to French history and culture. Her wide knowledge and interests make her a delightful traveling companion. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Barbara S. Brookes
I love this book! Ina Caro brings French history alive and guides you through the rich and complex background to the chateaus and castles in France. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Yve Weinberg