Tag Archives: paris a to z

Paris A to Z: I is for…

I is for Île de la Cité

Located on the Seine and one of Rick Steve’s Historic Walks, the Île de la Cité is one of two little islands located within the city of Paris.

Set up around the 3rd century B.C. In 52 A.D., after being plundered by the Romans, the settlement was rebuilt as the Roman city of Lutetia…Later, from the 6th through the 14th centuries, the kings of France lived on the Île de la Cité. A palace, constructed during Merovingian times (5th to 8th century A.D.), was built at the western end of the island, allowing the island to remain an important political center through the Middle Ages. In the 10th century, a cathedral – one that would be the predecessor to the famous Notre Dame – was erected on the island. (A View on Paris)

At one point, all of Paris resided on this one little island. That is why it  remains the heart of Paris. All road distances in France are calculated from the 0 km point located in the square facing Notre-Dame’s pair of western towers. On the Île de la Cité, you will find:

  • Notre Dame Cathedral – built from 1163
  • Pont Neuf – inaugurated it in 1607
  • Ancien Cloître- The oldest remaining residential quarter, that evaded Baron Haussmann’s gentrification mission
  • Palais de Justice – Modern day Supreme Court built in the 18th Century. The remains are found in the St. Chappelle Church which is where Marie Antoinette was held prior to her execution by guillotine.
  • Place de Dauphine – A cute little residential park
  • (http://www.aparisguide.com/ile-de-la-cite/)


A Town Like Paris by Bryce Corbett

A town like Paris : falling in love in the City of lightA Town Like Paris: Falling in Love in the City of Light by Bryce Corbett
Age: Adult
Genre: Nonfiction/Memoir/Paris
Source: Overdrive
Format: Ebook
Find this book at your local library

Stuck in a rut in London, Australian native Bryce Corbett applies on a whim to a position he is highly unqualified for in Paris. For reasons he can’t figure out, he is given the position and is soon on his way to the City of Light, the city where he has dreamt of living for years. Once in Paris, his adventures are nothing short of hilarious. The type that makes you shake your head in wonder.

I wonder if Bryce Corbett and Stephen Clarke ever met for a cafe while in Paris? Fans of Clarke will enjoy Corbett’s wry wit, his male perspective on the most romantic city in Europe, as well as his lack of aspirations towards work, and his overdrive commitment to drinking, partying and falling in love with the Lido showgirl, Shay.

Sometimes, I think a male perspective on Paris is just the right book. Girls tend to sugarcoat, or go into purple prose when it comes to Paris’ charms, but guys are more direct and like to focus on the negatives of the city. I do have to say, that I am insanely jealous of his situation. Being paid to live in a city, albeit he didn’t care for his work at all, but the means to an end, provided him with up to 6 years of Parisian life.

His stories are funny, and well chronicled. From the escapades of dating, to the foibles of dealing with the French bureaucracy, to starting a mildly popular band that plays in the bars of the city, Corbett’s prose seems genuine. Although at times I wondered if he fluffed up the story just to heighten the hilarity. His descriptions of the people, the places and events that took place in Paris had me laughing out loud or shaking my head in wonder. The chapters are short, but there are quite a few of them. A few felt repetitive, and some just dragged on, but for the most part, this is a highly entertaining read.

Paris A to Z: H is for…

H is for Georges-Eugène Haussmann, commonly known as Baron Haussmann. He is best known as the civic planner who redesigned the narrow Rues of Paris with grand boulevards. He was commissioned by Napoleon III to modernize the city  in 1852. Its funny to think that the Paris we see today, is less than a 100 years old in its visuals. I wonder what the old streets of Paris used to look like? The narrow roads that took you nowhere, or pushed you through claustrophobic little alleyways.

parisBetween 1853 and 1870, Paris took a turn for the new under Haussmann’s watchful eye. How did he redesign the city? He razed many of the old, twisting streets and rundown apartment houses, replacing them with the wide, tree-lined boulevards and expansive gardens.  Haussmann’s plan also included uniform building heights, grand boulevards, and anchoring elements including the Arc de Triomphe and the Grand Opera House, all of which is what Paris is known for today in regards to architecture.

Books on Haussmann

1.Transforming Paris : the life and labors of Baron... by David P Jordan 2.Haussmann : his life and times, and the making... by Michel Carmona 3.Paris reborn : Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann,... by Stephane Kirkland 4.The man who made Paris Paris : the illustrated... by Willet Weeks

  1. Transforming Paris : the life and labors of Baron Haussmann
  2. Haussmann : his life and times, and the making of modern Paris
  3. Paris reborn : Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann, and the quest to build a modern city
  4. The man who made Paris Paris : the illustrated biography of Georges-Eugene Haussmann

Video Clip – The Transformation of Paris

Paris A To Z: F is for…

F is for Fromage!

But of course! With a wonderfully well selected glass of wines, goes a hunk of stinking cheese, right?

Speaking from experience, the smellier the cheese, the more delicious the taste and more tactile the textures in taste and the more delicious it tasted when paired with the appropriate glass of wine. For me, I will be eating some fromage de chevre sur un baguette aujourdhui avec un cafe creme.

Oh, to talk about cheese in France…I am woefully unqualified, so here is a list resources to help you get better acquainted with a food so essentially French.

Kitchen Art via Etsy – GeraldineAdams

Kitchen Art French Cheeses home decor - Art Print 8x10 Typographic print Gourmet cheese lover food illustration

Fromage Fort recipe from the Smitten Kitchen

fromage fort

What cheese will you be eating today?


Paris A to Z: E is for…

E is for the Eiffel Tower!

Could E really stand for anything else? Look at the beauty of this piece of architecture that was at one time reviled by all the artists in Paris. A committee of 300 (one member for each step) formed and sent a scathing letter of protest to the Minister of Works and Commissioner for the Exposition, and was published by the newspaper Le Temps. 

“We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of slighted French taste, against the erection…of this useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower … To bring our arguments home, imagine for a moment a giddy, ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack, crushing under its barbaric bulk Notre Dame, the Tour Saint-Jacques, the Louvre, the Dome of les Invalides, the Arc de Triomphe, all of our humiliated monuments will disappear in this ghastly dream. And for twenty years…we shall see stretching like a blot of ink the hateful shadow of the hateful column of bolted sheet metal” 


Quick Facts

Location: Champs de Mars

Named After: Gustave Eiffel

Opened in 1889 at the entrance arc for the 1889 World’s Fair. It is now one of the world’s most recognizable icons, along with the Golden Gate Bridge, Big Ben and many others.

This is one of my favorite postcards of the Eiffel Tower. Can you imagine what life must have been like watching this tower being built over the course of 2 years? Its like seeing only the feet of the Statue of Liberty, or just her torso. Incomplete, amazing, and mystifying.

File:Construction of the Eiffel Tower.JPG

The tower has three levels for visitors. Tickets can be purchased to ascend, by staircase or by elevator, to the first and second levels. The walk from ground level to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. The third and highest level is accessible only by lift—stairs do exist but are usually closed to the public. The views from the second level are wonderful, albeit, the city looks ridiculously tiny. The view from the Arc de Triomphe gives a much more intimate view of the city, especially of the grand boulevards designed by Baron Haussmann. But there is something amazing about the Eiffel Tower. Our hotel was walking distance from the tower. Just walking around the city, you see glimpses of it poking above, beside or around different buildings. Its presence is so…serene and reliable. You may get lost in Paris, but wherever you are, the Eiffel Tower is right there watching over you.

Paris A to Z: D is for…

D is for Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas self portrait 1855.jpeg

One of the leading artistes of the Impressionist movement that started in France, Edgar Degas is best known for his artwork of the ballerinas.

The Impressionist movement is probably my favorite in art history.  Although I am particularly partial to Renoir, Degas is definitely in the running with his depictions of both the public and private lives of Parisians. I was lucky enough to see some of his originals at the Musee d’Orsay a few years ago. Impressionist art is really the only movement where you have to see the brush strokes in person to fully appreciate the work, the effort and the inspiration and vision that goes into creating these masterpieces.

Brief Bio:

Edgar Degas was born Hilaire-Germain-Edgar de Gas on July 19, 1834, in Paris, France.  He died Sept. 27, 1917 in Paris, France.

His work ranges from ballerinas on stage, to nudes bathing, to bronze statues. In the 1850’s, he took a break from his studies at the Ecole Des Beaux-Art in Paris to travel around Italy; painting, traveling and studying. In 1859 he returned to Paris, determined to make a name for himself. In 1862, he met fellow artist Edouard Manet at the Louvre, and the two who quickly hit it off were members of an avant-garde group of artistes. They met regularly the Café Guerbois along with: Renoir, Monet and Sisley to discuss the progression of art in the modern world and thus the beginning of the Impressionist movement began to take shape.

Source: Biography.com

In a Cafe (The Absinthe Drinker) 1875-1876 / Musee d’Orsay, Paris, France

Who is your favorite French artiste? What is your favorite French art movement?

Paris A to Z. B is for

B is for Bastille

I could have saved this for Bastille Day on July 14th, but then the alphabet would be out of order.

Le Bastille, is better known as the famous prison where in 1789 an angry mob stormed in to free the prisoners, discovering only seven people inside. Thus, Bastille Day is commemorated as part of Le Revolution Francaise during the reign of Louis and Marie Antoinette. It was later demolished and replaced with the Place de la Bastille in Paris today.

The Bastille was built as a stronghold in the 14th century as a response to a threat during the 100-year-war. It was later converted into a prison before being stormed and demolished. The Place de la Bastille (Bastille Square) was created in 1803, including a fountain in the shape of an elephant. Sadly, that was gone in 1847. The only monument that marks the place of the prison is the Colonne de Julliet, commemorating another revolution in 1830.

Colonne de Juillet (A View on Paris)

Where is it? Bordering the 4th, 11th and 12th arrondissements

Metro Lines: Bastille (M 1,5,8)


Paris A to Z: A is for

A is for les arrondissements.

Paris, has 20 neighborhoods, or districts known as Les arrondissements. When I went to Paris 2 years ago (feels like 2 decades ago), I stayed in the 6th arrondissement, on the Rue Cler. That is also where Julia Child spent many of her days in Paris, walking the same streets, shopping the same shops.

This mini guide can introduce you to each of the arrondissements unique personalities.

This mini guide provides more fun details of what you can find in each arrondissement.

This is my favorite shot of the Rue Cler, with a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower in the distant. We were right on the border of the 6th and 7th arrondissement, so it was a pleasant walking distance from our hotel.