Sunday, December 30, 2007

City of Light

For anyone who wants to know what the big deal is about Paris, I recommend Sandrine's Paris: a cultural history of the world's most romantic city. Author Sandrine Voillet - a native Parisian - explains why so many people over the centuries have been driven to visit Paris. This is a lovely coffee-table book, with beautiful pictures and an entertaining text. She doesn't tell you where to stay or eat, or what the best shopping district is, or what the 'must see' sights are in this tourist hotspot. Instead, she describes the ups and downs of French history and culture, and how those cycles always emanate from Paris. She also points out some of the ways in which these cultural changes have rippled beyond the borders of France to affect Western civilization as a whole. One of the nicest things about this book is that it includes a fair amount of information about modern Paris, including architecture, fashion, cinema and historical events. The Folies Bergère was not the last exciting thing to have happened in Paris, but many books focus on the city's elegant past rather than its vibrant present. Sandrine will show you what it is about this city that so fascinates the armchair traveler and captivates the visitor, and make you long to walk its lively boulevards.

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