Tomorrow I am celebrating July 4th by hopping on a plane and heading to Paris for a month.
Ok, so actually tickets are just really cheap if you fly out of the United States on the night of the 4th. Y’all know that I love July 4th more than just about anything, and the the only thing that can pry me away from it is Paris. I promise to be a good American and eat some red, white, and blue pancakes or something in the morning.
When I applied for a grant last fall to spend some time in France this summer, we didn’t know all that would be happening in our lives. We felt sad that I would be away from James for a chunk of the summer, but both of us felt that it was a really important opportunity for me professionally. I cannot emphasize enough how blessed I am to be married to someone who takes my career way more seriously than I do, urging me on to go for things and chase after difficult decisions, even if it meant that he would be wife-less in hot DC while I spent a month on Europe. When we found out that James would also be away most of the summer, I couldn’t help but feel relieved that I will spend this time away from him in Paris. Paris might just be the best place imaginable to be away from someone you love because, well, it’s Paris. If you asked me, it’s one of the best places ever for just about anything.
When you love Paris, you can’t help but love reading about other people coming to understand this city. If you want to take a little Paris trip this summer, I suggest some of the following books where people explore Paris from every angle.
If you love history..
- The Seven Ages of Paris, Alistair Horne. Did you know you can trace the entire history of France throught the various ages and stages of Paris? Yes, yes you can. And you should. This one is pretty dense, but I love Paris’ crazy history. It is equal parts thriller, history, and spicy epic.
- Is Paris Burning? Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins. You guys, every bridge and monument in Paris was wired with explosives to be destroyed during WWII. It was only because of a general who just couldn’t bring himself to destroy it that we still get to enjoy Paris today. Read the full story in this book, and have the nervous sweats the whole time because of what could have been.
If you like people trying to understand Parisians and the French…
- Paris to the Moon, Adam Gopnik. Essays and stories about Paris that range from poetic, to hilarious, to emotional. Gopnik’s love of Paris is so intense that you can’t help but get swept up. Also, his analysis of the World Cup is and why Americans hate soccer is perfect. All of the quotes in this post are from him and I got to the point where I was dog-earing so many pages that reading the book was difficult.
- Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong, Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow. This one was given to me by an ex-pat who has been in Paris for a long time. She told me to read it because the authors just get what makes the French French and I couldn’t agree more. It is more of a socio-psychological approach with lots of research and analysis, but so, so good.
If you just want stories of people trying to make Paris their home…
- Almost French, Sarah Turnbull. It is almost endearing to read a memoir of someone who hated Paris as first. For those of us who have made any sort of misstep in trying to navigate Parisian culture (and if you haven’t, you’re lying or naïve), the story of this rougher transition is perfect.
- My Life in France, Julie Child. Yes, this is a memoir about much more than just living in Paris. But at its core, her story is one of how being in Paris changed her life, and inspired her to dream bold dreams.
I went through all my old pictures from various times in Paris to select some images for this post and it just made me more excited about all the beauty awaiting me on the other side of the pond. If you are interested in seeing a lot of Paris pictures over the next month, feel free to follow along on Instagram @hannahkatherinew. I promise I won’t be offended when you un-follow me in August when I am back to sharing pictures of my brunch.Any other good Paris memoirs that I need to add to my ever-growing list?
I’m jealous. Happy travels! 🙂
Paris I love you but you’re bringing me down by Rosencrans Baldwin is a fantastic, funny Paris memoir (I wrote about it here: http://wp.me/p4zqG5-f) that was written pretty recently so it will be a better reflection of the Paris you’re about to encounter than some of the older works on your list. That said, I also LOVED Adam Gopnik’s discussion of the French and soccer; what a timely reference!
Also don’t forget the absolute classic Moveable Feast by Hemingway (http://wp.me/p4zqG5-1f). Paris at its best and Hemingway at his jerk-iest.
Oh that first one sounds so good!!! I read A Moveable Feast, and I did like it, but I just have a real hard time loving Hemingway and find myself begging his sentences to just get a little more interesting with some adjectives and maybe even a semi-colon or two. But it was still good and definitely a classic!
Thank you for including your instagram- I didn’t know if you had one and have wanted to follow you! Yay PARIS!! Eat a croissant and a cafe au lait on a corner for me.
I will eat ALL THE CROISSANTS. And probably instagram at least half of them!
J’adore paris! Elle est tres belle et tres interessant! I went through northern france after my senior year of high school- i took 4 years of french and 1 year in college but now am very rusty which stinks because it was such a beautiful language!
You should definitely pick it back up and return to Paris! It’s always worth it.
Have a fantastic time! I’m going to be following along on Instagram most definitely!
I can promise lots of pastrygramming!
I am so excited for you! What a beautiful place Paris is. I was surprised with a trip to Paris for my high school graduation and have been yearning to go back since! I will be following alone on instagram and I’m sorry if I post too many heart eye emojis, it’s just the best way to describe how I’ll be feeling.
That is the best surprise ever! And I’m pretty sure that heart eye emojis are the best possible way to respond to Paris.
Pingback: I’m Still Here | DCTdesigns Creative Canvas
Have you read Paris in Love by Eloisa James? Simply delightful…one of the few books I’ve ever read that I wouldn’t mind rereading periodically. I second the motion on A Moveable Feast.
I haven’t but I have seen a lot of people reading it lately so I will have to get on it!
I flew home from five weeks in Paris (ok, four in the city, one in the suburbs, which was also amazing) only July 4th (because, yes cheap flights). Despite watching fireworks from a plane (super fun), it was still super depressing. Also, how I miss the metro and my carte orange! How I long for good pain au chocolat and merguez! Enjoy!
Yeah… I am writing this is the airport and it is a super depressing ghost town. But here’s to hoping for an empty row for the overnight flight!!!
I can still see it so clearly, one of the first most professionally posed photographs of a young Hannah Stone on her first trip to Paris. Posing with Poise. You were and remain exquisite. Who knew?!! I love your life…dare I say nearly as much as you do! Blessings and the most heartfelt Bon Voyage, young lady!
The only reason I can even go back today is because I had SUCH A GOOD TRIP the first time that I went with you that it made me determined to make my life and endless search for ways to get back to Paris!
We’re waiting for you with open arms 🙂
Pingback: Beach day. | The Art in Life
Pingback: All about the books, bout the books, no TV. | The Art in Life
Pingback: Paris with my people. | The Art in Life