Paris then and now


I loved this book! Notre-Dame: The Soul of France was written after the devastating 2019 fire that left the church crumbling, but still standing. It starts with the shock of the fire told by those that were there and those tasked with taking care of the cathedral. It was riveting.
The bulk of the slim book covers Notre- Dame from its first stone in 1163 to the new bells of 2013. It covers each era of the cathedral and the politics, uprisings, and Paris events of the day. It’s a bite-sized history of France told through the lens of Notre-Dame.

The last section is about what’s happening now in the aftermath of the fire. The summation pages were some of my favorites.

“For she is not just any people’s palace. Notre-Dame is the beating heart of Paris. For more than 850 years, the echo of France’s glory and misery, of France’s victories and disasters, has resounded under those vaults. For more than 850 years, the French people have rolled for their deaths, sounded the tocsin and chimed their joy with the bells and bourbons of her towers. Atheists and believers can find the same memories, for they are France’s memories.”

It’s current events and history in one book and I highly recommend it.

I included a few pics from our 2010 trip. I shed some tears as I watched it burning on tv.

Have you been to Notre-Dame?
To continue my Paris travels I read the first of the Hugo Marston series, The Bookseller. Hugo, an American in charge of security at the US embassy in Paris, is on vacation. He goes to his favorite bookseller by the Seine and witnesses him being roughed up and kidnapped. No one will back up his story so he’s on his own and been told to lay off. Oh, and his trip back the States to see his wife? She tells him not to bother.

I liked getting to know more about the book trade in Paris, it’s serious business! I liked the day to day description of Paris and the diplomacy needed when working at the embassy. This is a nice start to an ongoing series (there are 10 so far). Off to see if my library has the second one.
A Dream of Flight: Alberto Santos-Dumont’s Race Around the Eiffel Tower is a great picture book about something I knew nothing about. At the turn of the century Henri Deutsch offered a prize of 100,000 francs to the first person who could pilot an airship from the Aero Club around the Eiffel Tower and back within 30 minutes. Santos-Dumont had been working on his hot air balloon with a motor inspired airship for a while, even crashing a few already, when he finally managed the feat. A nice piece of history and good illustrations.

Visit more posts from Paris in July at Thyme for Tea.