I love Paris and have been lucky enough to visit this magical city a number of times. I liked to think I was getting to know it quite well, but these two little books have put me right (or is that droite?)
Secret Paris is a chunky little volume packed with a multitude of things you would never expect, dealt with efficiently by arrondissement with plenty of colour photographs. It is certain to make you rethink your supposed knowledge of this great city.
For instance, did you know that there is a museum of dermatological casts in the Xth arrondissement? Perhaps you’d rather not know this either, but the Picpus Cemetery in the XIIth is the remains of 1306 poor people who died by guillotine in 1794 are buried.
On a much happier note, the extensive index directs readers to many of Paris’s walks and picturesque passageways, hanging gardens in the XIVth, how to visit the ancient aqueducts of this city, and much, much more.
Secret Bars and Restaurants in Paris is the ideal evening companion to the first book. After a day exploring esoterica, visitors can settle back in secret gardens and open-air terraces or try truly unique eateries such as the table in the home of a local man who invites perfect strangers to dine with him – Chez Mickael in the Vth. Then there’s Footsie, a unique bar in that it varies the price of its drinks according to demand.
Unusual venues include the Foyer de Madeleine in a cellar off the Place Madeleine and staffed by volunteers, La Cipale at the velodrome, and Table d’Hotes de l’Espace Pro-car – you guessed it, in a vintage car-dealer’s garage in a quiet back street.
Sections also outline where to find Free Food or go Underground for alternative places to dine.
Take these two books with you next time you go to Paris and you will have dozens of stories to tell your friends when you return. That’s if you can tear yourself away.
Secret Paris, Jacques Garance and Maud Ratton, published by Jonglez, 2007, paperback 384 pages; Secret Bars and Restaurants in Paris, Jacques Garance, published by Jonglez, 2006, www.editionsjonglez.com Paperback, 190 pages. Available on Amazon.com
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