One of my favorite pastimes is reading and reading books about the City of Light captures anyone’s imagination. Leading up to a Paris adventure, it will greatly enhance your journey if you can fully appreciate the rich history of the streets which you travel and the buildings that you pass. One of my most beloved books is Is Paris Burning? by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins. It follows the dramatic story of the Allied liberation of Paris. Is Paris Burning? reconstructs the network of fateful events–the drama, the fervor, and the triumph–that heralded one of the most dramatic episodes of our time. This bestseller about 1944 Paris is a true delight! If you find yourself with a free afternoon in Paris, head over to the Rodin Muse in the 7th arrondissement, buy a 2 euro “Parc entrance only ticket” and read in the third largest gardens in Paris tucked away behind the museum (there is a cafe there too!). Pick up a copy on Amazon or your eReader before your take off.
Other recommended readings:
Wine and War by Donald Kladstrup and Petie Kladstrup: In 1940, France fell to the Nazis and almost immediately the German army began a campaign of pillaging one of the assets the French hold most dear: their wine. Like others in the French Resistance, winemakers mobilized to oppose their occupiers, but the tale of their extraordinary efforts has remained largely unknown–until now. This is the thrilling and harrowing story of the French wine producers who undertook ingenious, daring measures to save their cherished crops and bottles as the Germans closed in on them. Wine and War illuminates a compelling, little-known chapter of history, and stands as a tribute to extraordinary individuals who waged a battle that, in a very real way, saved the spirit of France.
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain: Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Rodin: A Biography by Frederic V. Grunfeld: Auguste Rodin (1840–1917) was not only the world’s greatest sculptor, known for such works as The Thinker, The Kiss, The Hand of God, and dozens of others, but also one of the most remarkable personalities of modern times: an artist who outraged contemporaries with his disturbingly unfinished monuments; a sensualist who shocked France with his scandalous relationships; and a friend to the most gifted writers and artists of his day.
Camille Claudel Biography by Odile Ayral-Clause: Camille Claudel (1864-1943) was a gifted 19th-century French sculptor who worked for Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), became his lover, and eventually left him to gain recognition for herself in the art world. After she crumbled under the combined weight of social reproof, deprivations, and art world prejudices, her family had her committed to an asylum, where she died 30 years later. Although Claudel’s life has been romanticized in print and on film, a fully researched biography has never been written until this one.
Bisous from Paris!