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.

10 thoughts on “Paris then and now

  1. Gofita says:

    What an amazing trip you had to Paris! This book sounds right up my alley. Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll have to remember to try this out next July. I’d love to follow along with Paris in July next year and read a few more Paris-related books.

  2. Diane says:

    You’ve really found some gems for you July in Paris. I’ve heard of that Bookseller book by Pryor but now I’m more intrigued.

  3. Tamara says:

    Agreed – you’ve found some new books set in the famous and not so famous places of Paris, and taken me on a mini trip down memory lane. These past few weeks, my TBR pile is just growing… making me think we might need a Paris re visited post or two after July for us to catch up 🙂

  4. marmeladegypsy says:

    I must get that Notre Dame book. I was crushed when the fire broke out — just the year before we had visited. What a magnificent place. I hope and trust it will rise again.

    I wrote about The Bookseller and another Marston, The French Widow, for PIJuly this year. I really like that series, though those are the only two I’ve read. I always wondered a bit about the lives and ways of the bouquiinistes and that book illuminated it along with a good mystery!

    • stacybuckeye says:

      Maybe you’re where I saw the series in the first place 🙂 I couldn’t remember who blogged about a later book in the series. So, thank you!
      The fire was so upsetting. The money being spent to keep her up is astounding.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      It really did bring out a shared sense of community. I think anyone who has ever been there felt the same sadness and shock, so I can’t imagine how the people of Paris felt,

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