By: Susan Cahill
Photographer: Marion Ranoux
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: June 2017
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: July 1, 2017
If you're planning on visiting Paris, skip the tourist traps and see the city through the eyes and experiences of famous Parisians via Susan Cahill's new book, The Streets of Paris.
Told through over twenty short chapters, each one focusing on a famous person (or couple/people/event), the author has organized the chapters by sections of the city. There are stories that take place within the confines of The Left Bank, The Right Bank, The Marais, Western Paris, Around Bastille, as well as a few others. Each chapter has a brief history lesson on that chapter's famous person, followed by a "For the Traveler" section that gives specifics on various streets/sights to visit that revolve around the character, followed by a "Nearby" section that lists interesting sights to see in the general area (libraries, bistros, gardens, etc.).
The author has chosen an interesting cross-section of famous people to showcase that give a nice, varied view of life through the centuries along the streets of Paris. She opens with the story of two ill-fated lovers, Heloise and Peter Aberlard that began in 1115 when the pair first met. Recounting their time spent along the Seine, their punishment, separation, and finally how each lived out their later years, the story is well served by mentioning all the places where the pair lived or visited. As in all the chapters, places they went/visited that still exist are written in bold text for easy identification. Other famous Parisians featured in the book include Voltaire (of course!), Marie Curie, Louis IX, Henri IV, Chopin, and Alberto Giacometti.
There is a lot of history within the pages of The Streets of Paris, much of it what I'd call "little tidbits" that history texts rarely include. These tidbits are things such as what somebody did on a certain street, how they frequented a favorite bibliotheque each day, or where they liked to eat. These facts really added to the visuals of these famous Parisians as they wandered the streets of Paris and made the stories come to life. The photos accompanying the stories were lovely but there was only one per chapter and I kept finding myself wishing there were more. While I suspect that the first-time visitor to Paris may wish to see the Louvre or Notre Dame first, for the serious lover of Paris, The Streets of Paris, as noted by author Susan Cahill, will make for a wonderful trip to the City of Lights.
Quill says: While not really for the casual tourist, The Streets of Paris is perfect for the visitor who wishes to learn more and walk on the streets where so many famous Parisians made history.