May 18, 2013

Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light by David Downie

Title: Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light by David Downie
Published April 5, 2011; Broadway paperback
Genre: travel
Photographs by Alison Harris

Paris is only one of the cities called the "City of Light." It was given this name because it was the first European city that lit up its streets with gaslights. Other cities with the title include Miami, Florida; Anchorage, Alaska and Los Angeles, Ca., given for different reasons. The oldest city known as the City of Light is Varanasi (known as Benares) in India, the place where light first entered earth, according to Hindu belief.

For those traveling to Paris, Paris, Paris is the most complete and detailed description and history of Paris that I have seen. With lots of interesting tidbits and historical facts, it also has the advantage that it can be read in sections.

Here is the book/publisher description:
"Swapping his native San Francisco for the City of Light, travel writer David Downie arrived in Paris in 1986 on a one-way ticket, his head full of romantic notions. Curiosity and the legs of a cross-country runner propelled him daily from an unheated, seventh-floor walk-up garret near the Champs-Elysées to the old Montmartre haunts of the doomed painter Modigliani, the tombs of Père-Lachaise cemetery, the luxuriant alleys of the Luxembourg Gardens and the aristocratic Île Saint-Louis midstream in the Seine. 

Downie wound up living in the chic Marais district, married to the Paris-born American photographer Alison Harris, an equally incurable walker and chronicler. Ten books and a quarter-century later, he still spends several hours every day rambling through Paris, and writing about the city he loves. 

 An irreverent, witty romp featuring thirty-one short prose sketches of people, places and daily life, Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light ranges from the glamorous to the least-known corners and characters of the world’s favorite city."

I hope to make it back someday to Paris, which I visited after college during a short ramble through Europe. I'd be sure to read this book first, though, to get the most out of the trip.

Thanks to the author for a complimentary copy of this book. 


  1. I wont be traveling to Paris, but your information on The City of Lights was interesting. Sounds like a great book!

  2. Pat: I guess we can do some armchair travel for now. It may be a while till I get to Paris again!

  3. This seems like a lovely book, Harvee!

  4. Suko: some interesting history here.

  5. I have never heard of this book-thank you. You would love May in Paris-there are flowers everywhere and you can really enjoy just sitting outdoors.

  6. I will keep this one in mind as I really need to get to Paris sometime over the next few years. My wife's family is originally from the city so I really have no excuse!

  7. Sounds interesting, I'd love to go to Paris one day.

  8. I dream about visiting Paris someday. This book absolutely appeals to me!

  9. This looks great. I was surprised at how much I loved Paris when we visited 3 years ago. I'd love to make it back someday too :)


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