When the long days of summer lure you out of your lair, what’s to do? Or – Yikes! Aunt Zelda and Uncle Austen are coming. For two whole weeks? If either sounds like your situation, don’t fall into the ho-hum, same-old, same-old Paris syndrome that can infect frequent visitors and those of us who live here year’round.
The season’s newest guidebooks can provide ideas for you or for guests who’ve come to do the sights you’ve done 40 gazillion times. For in-depth coverage of the sights, sounds and smells of Paris, nothing tops Thirza Vallois’ “Around and About Paris” books. The dedicated rubbernecker can start with Volume 1 and the first arrondissement, work round the “snail” to the seventh, and then take Volume 2 & 3 all the way out to the 20th arrondissement.
Pick any part of town you want to get to know better. With a map and a detailed narrative, Vallois transforms history into a firsthand experience. Delacroix’s old studio on the rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette comes to life when she recounts his appreciation of the “lorettes,” mistresses wannabes who often congregated in this area near Pigalle.
Vallois leads you through the social, economic and political development of a quarter, connecting the past to the present. Amid the neon glow of the present-day rue de Lappe one can find a 100-year-old grocery, Aux Produits d’Auvergne, one of the last relics of a formerly Auvergnat-dominated Bastille. You could wear your feet before you get through these two volumes, but you would be so entertained you wouldn’t even notice.
Thirza Vallois is the author of Around and About Paris, Volume I, II, III published by Iliad Books (UK) and Romantic Paris, co-published by Interlink (US) and Arris Books (UK). To find out more and order Thirza Vallois’s books, visit her website: http://www.thirzavallois.com