Paris is the city of lights, the city of romance. When I first visited there, I was captured by the atmosphere as soon as I got off the plane. It felt like magic in the air, and I honestly didn’t know much about the place at the tender age of 20. Now the author of a new guide to Paris asks the question, why? Why is Paris known as and for these things? His answer is that people make it that way in their own minds. They weave the stories of all the writers and artists who lived and worked there into a fairy tale about the place itself, and so the legend was born and is perpetuated.
In his book A Passion for Paris: Romanticism and Romance in the City of Lights, author David Downie, who hails from San Francisco but now divides his time between France and Italy, takes a close and intimate look at Paris in this combination history, travel book and memoir. He skillfully uncovers secrets of its vibrant culture and unearths many of the hidden treasures the average visitor would never see—like the maze of subterranean walls from an earlier time. He takes a loving look at the unique qualities of daily life in the city, and presents an unvarnished examination of its querulous inhabitants, its bizarre culture of heroic negativity, and its rich historical past. He points out how the glamor and carefree atmosphere of the City of Light grew from and is still nourished by rebellion, mayhem and melancholy, including the subversive nature of the Romantic Age’s literature, art and music. You’ll learn an amazing amount about some of Paris’s great writers and painters and sculptors: Victor Hugo, Georges Sand, Charles Baudelaire, Balzac, Nadar and others.
If you, too, love Paris, take this book with you on your next visit, or use it to reawaken memories of your last one. Either way, you’re bound to learn things about this amazing city you may never learn anywhere else.
If you do plan to fly to France, do not fail to investigate the beauties and treasures of nearby Bordeaux. Located in the southwest of France, Bordeaux is the home of fine wine and classic vineyards (Medoc and St. Emilion, to name just two of its famous wine regions), small boutique luxury hotels, river cruise ports, and fabulous new experiences. And it’s a mere one-hour flight from Paris, or 3-hour train ride (soon to be only two hours as French rail technology modernizes further). It’s a place that promises you’ll love what you find there. Read more about Bordeaux, the romantic wine destination.