|About the Book|
INTRODUCTION Its little wonder that so many wistful songs have been penned over the years about Frances capital, Paris. What city experiences could be more seductive than sitting in the gardens of Notre-Dame beneath the drifting cherry blossom,MoreINTRODUCTION Its little wonder that so many wistful songs have been penned over the years about Frances capital, Paris. What city experiences could be more seductive than sitting in the gardens of Notre-Dame beneath the drifting cherry blossom, strolling along the riverside quais on a summer evening, sipping coffee and cognac in the early hours to the sound of the blues, or exploring the ancient alleyways and cobbled lanes of the Latin Quarter and Montmartre? Paris has no problem living up to the painted images and movie myths with which were all familiar.Nor does Paris falter in its reputation as a great hive of artistic and intellectual activity. World-class art collections at the Louvre and Musée dOrsay, as well as the great many smaller museums devoted to individual artists and collectors, underscore an impressive roster of talents linked to the city, including Delacroix, Ingres, Seurat, Degas, Van Gogh, Picasso, Braque and Gris, to name but a few. The newly reopened Pompidou Centre embodies a cultural attitude that both proclaims Parisian cleverness and invites you to share in it. And it is only one of many grand and ground-breaking modern buildings - the new Bibliothèque Nationale, the Institut du Monde Arabe, among others - that assert modern architecture and design.In fact, the whole city is something of a work of art. Two thousand years of shaping and reshaping have resulted in monumental buildings, sweeping avenues, grand esplanades and bridges. Many of its older buildings have survived intact, spared the ravages of flood and fire and saved from Hitlers intended destruction. Moreover, they survive with a sense of continuity and homogeneity, as new sits comfortably against a backdrop of old - the glass Pyramid against the grand fortress of the Louvre, the Column of Liberty against the Opera Bastille. Time has acted as judge, as buildings once swathed in controversy - the Eiffel Tower, the Sacre-Cur, the Pompidou Centre - have in their turn become symbols of the city. Yet for all the tremendous pomp and magnificence of its monuments, Paris operates on a very human scale, with exquisite, secretive little nooks tucked away from the Grands Boulevards and very definite little communities revolving around games of boules and the local boulangerie and café.