With his new book “A Passion for Paris” David Downie looks at how Paris got the reputation of being the world’s number one romantic city. The author informs the reader straight away that it will be a personal journey “I wonder if I knew on that first April morning that this would be it” says Downie. “I was stuck and could not leave, indeed would spend decades prowling the streets seeking Félix Nadar’s gallery of images… Did I realize I would lose myself in libraries, house museums and administrative offices…attempting to penetrate the secrets of what might well be the world’s most enigmatic, compelling, paradoxical, maddening yet seductive city?” “I must have had some inkling the first time I climbed the seven stories to my maid’s room…”
And so the story begins. One which anyone who has travelled up similar Paris stairs will surely appreciate. Lovers of Paris will certainly enjoy this well-researched book, but it will be especially savored by people who have communed with the city’s spirits on rainy evenings like the ones pictured by Woody Allen (another romantic) in his movie “Midnight in Paris.”
A unique combination of memoir, history, and travelogue the book is author David Downie’s quest to uncover why Paris is the world’s most romantic city—and has been for over 150 years. Abounding in secluded, atmospheric parks, artists’ studios, cafes, restaurants and streets little changed since the 1800s, Paris exudes romance. The art and architecture, the cityscape, riverbanks, and the unparalleled quality of daily life are part of the equation. But rarely do visitors suspect the glamor and chic of the City of Light grew from and still feed off the dark fountainheads of riot, rebellion, mayhem and melancholy—and the subversive literature, art and music of the Romantic Age.
Weaving together his own with the lives and loves of Victor Hugo, Georges Sand, Charles Baudelaire, Balzac, Nadar and other great Romantics Downie delights in the city’s secular romantic pilgrimage sites…”‘This is what “A Passion for Paris” is in part about: my early days in Paris, and my decades-long, continuing, quixotic quest to understand why—or if—Paris is the world’s most romantic city. I certainly bought into the myth, if myth it be. Here I am, 39 years after my first visit, 29 years after moving here full time.”
“A Passion for Paris” is much more than a self-serving autobiography or memoir. It’s really about the enduring romance of Paris. The roots of romance delve way deeper than most people think. One of the reasons the city is so magical and so baffling and endearingly melancholic is it continues to live in the Age of Romanticism. Baudelaire, Hugo, Balzac, Dumas, George Sand, Chopin, Delacroix and dozens of others are alive and kicking—they live on in today’s Parisians.”