An American in Paris

They say that when good Americans die they go to Paris …

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891, and later, in A Woman of No Importance, 1894

Who doesn’t remember their first trip to Paris?

Mine was on my school exchange. Our city was twinned with Lille, northern town syndrome I suppose, but my French family lived in Dunkerque. Or near. They were a nice family, but I was pretty embarrassed about speaking my schoolgirl French and didn’t like opening my mouth and making a fool of myself. Not exactly the best attitude for an exchange to improve spoken French.

One day, Papa said we were going away for a few days. They were going to take me to Lille but decided instead on Paris. Wow! Paris! I was pretty excited. Stuff Lille.

And it was wonderful. We did all the obvious sites, Notre-Dame, Sacré Coeur and Montmartre, the Eiffel Tower, the Moulin Rouge and the Pigalle, (the scene of ‘Les vierges Allemandes’ comment) and took a bateau mouche. The hotel was nice, and the short trip was a real highlight of an otherwise mediocre three weeks.

I’ve been to Paris many times since, and always loved it, until the last trip when the food at Austerlitz station was appalling and the staff were surly too. Can’t win them all.

So I was pretty excited to get the chance to review:

Bridges of Paris by Michael Saint James

Bridges of Paris
Bridges of Paris

This is an amazing book with more than 350 full colour glorious photographs of Parisian bridges. It’s large, and the clever design is reminiscent of a photo album on the outside and inside covers.

The author/photographer took a year out in Paris (who wouldn’t like to do that?) to photograph the 37 bridges of his book and immerse himself in Parisian life.

There’s a good intro that tells us why he decided to do it – a chance question from a student about his favourite bridge in Paris sparked his interest – and then an overall look at the Seine and the bridges over the centuries from Celtic and Roman times to the 21st century, with the new Passarelle Simone-de-Beauvoir, the only bridge to be named after a woman.

Passerelle Simone-de-Beauvoir
Passerelle Simone-de-Beauvoir, opened in 2006

And the rest of the book is about the bridges, neatly divided into island, palace, upstream and downstream bridges.

Island bridges (captions inc)

While Paris has more than 300 bridges, just 37 cross the Seine, and these river bridges are the subject of this impressive book. Michael captures detail, lighting, people, panoramic shots, whatever he could find to display the beauty of these bridges and Parisian daily life.

Each bridge gets a page or two of information and history, with a neat box detailing the year of the first crossing at the site, the opening of the current bridge, the length, width and number of arches, and the function of the bridge, eg pedestrian only, vehicles, train/metro.

An immense amount of research has gone into this book, and I loved the detail and the history that supports the stunning photographs.

It’s absolutely gorgeous, an interesting read, with a wealth of fascinating and thoughtful photos. If you love photography, Paris and/or bridges and history, this book is perfect. It’s an ideal present either to treat oneself, or for others who love the city of light. It’s published on 15 May and available via the Bridges of Paris website.

Downstream bridges
Downstream bridges

Nosy journalist time

I decided to ask Michael a few questions:

You mentioned in the book that your wife supported your idea. Did she go with you or stay in America? 

When we were in our twenties, my wife, Diana, and I globetrotted the world for nearly two years. So when I proposed my year long stay in Paris to create the book she simply said, “Go for it!” A key to the success of our 36-year marriage is giving each other the freedom to follow his/her dreams.

Michael Saint James
Michael Saint James
Diana would have loved a year in Paris, and found plenty to do, but needed to stay home because she owns a large travel agency and business is booming.

She did come visit me in Paris, we met up in Rome when she was hosting a Mediterranean cruise, and I was home for the holidays and my nephew’s wedding. Still, there were many lonely months while being apart.

Outside Paris, what’s your favourite bridge?

The Brooklyn Bridge. It has classic beauty, designed with both stone and metal, with a stunning silhouette. And of course, it is so big, more than 50% longer than any other bridge that existed in 1883.

It is a landmark in bridge development. Because the bedrock was so deep many workers died from decompression sickness when working in the caissons, the large watertight chambers surrounding the building area for each tower, constructed such that the river water can be pumped out, keeping the working environment dry. At the time this mysterious illness was called caisson disease. Even the designer, John Roebling suffered from decompression sickness.

Walking on the Brooklyn Bridge offers a view unlike anywhere else in New York. And yes, there are lovelocks on the Brooklyn Bridge!

In Paris, what are your favourites in these two categories?

Buildings
Sainte-Chapelle, located on the big island, Île de la Cité, in the city center. The stain glass windows are, literally, awesome. It was built in the 13th century by King Louis IV, the only French king to become a saint and the only king to have his name grace the jerseys of a championship baseball team.

Arrondissement
The 5th, the Latin Quarter. I lived on Rue des Ecoles with the University of Paris and Sorbonne to the west and the University Pierre et Marie Curie to the east. The Pantheon is just up the hill and the old haunts of James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway around the corner. The 5th is filled with narrow streets, quaint shops and great cafes, just as it has been for hundreds of years.

You mentioned language in the book, did your French improve through the year?

Actually, my French got worse. I could speak okay but was stumped by listening to Parisians, how fast they spoke and the variety of words they could use to mean the same thing. I could not understand them. I discovered it was better to speak bad French and wait for the local to switch to English. I always started a conversation in French and then began mixing in English words, Franglish the locals call it. After a while the person I was speaking with would realize the conversation would work best in English.

The key was to always begin in French. A tourist who speaks only English might be shunned, but by starting with a simple bonjour monsieur, then adding a sprinkling of s’il vous plait and merci and always saying oui, demonstrated my respect for French culture. Once you’ve earned someone’s respect, language is no barrier to communication. My favorite phrase is c’est bon. It was my go-to answer for any question I didn’t understand.

Pont Mirabeau
Pont Mirabeau

Favourite French food? and accompanying drink?

My favorite French food is the bread. Served fresh at every meal in every café and restaurant throughout the country. Add a glass of wine and life is complete. In Paris, bread and wine really are divine. For a complete meal include cheese and fresh fruit then go feast by the river. I wish I liked escargots and oysters but no luck. I sampled beef tartare, which is almost unheard of in the States. It was delicious, the ultimate rare steak. The most important ingredient of all French foods is freshness.

You’ve said people were charming and helpful. Were there any bad experiences? 

Bad experiences were most always due to my own bumbling, not others. I got yelled at by a store clerk who insisted I greet him properly with a “Bonjour Monsieur” rather than just saying “Give me the sandwich.” I bumped into an old man at the market and failed to say “pardon me.” He chased me down and said a lot of mean French words which fortunately I did not understand. A Madame chastised me for walking on the grass to get a photo. Following the proper etiquette is critical in France. That’s how they all get along. The most important words in French are: hello, please, thank you, yes, and excuse me.

I also got myself locked in a cemetery for a few hours, not realizing it had closed. When I finally found the lady in charge she gave me a long, enthusiastic lecture about my wrongdoings. Of course I didn’t understand but kept saying, “oui,” “s’il vous plait,” and “merci.” When she was satisfied with my mea culpas, she opened the gate and then gave me a smile and wished me well, “Bonne journée, monsieur.” French people really are charming.

You obviously travelled outside Paris, eg to the source of the Seine, what other excursions did you make? 

To the south of France, where I stayed for a month in the seaside village of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, writing the history part of my book. I visited Prague, to see the famous St. Charles bridges, and Nuremberg, which I discovered is “Christmas town.” The tradition that the Christkind brings children their Christmas gifts goes back to the protestant reformer, Martin Luther (1483-1546). In Luther’s time, it was traditional to give children gifts on December 6th, St. Nicolas’s Day. Also, I ventured to London, Amsterdam, Bruges, and Beirut, where my son teaches at the American School. It is so easy to travel from Paris, all of Europe is just a train ride or short plane flight away.

How did you find your accommodation?

I hooked up with My Apartment in Paris, one of the many companies that rent apartments in Paris. It was easy and they were very helpful. The cost of an apartment was much less than a hotel, perfect for a longer stay. I mostly stayed in the 5th Arrondissement, which is filled with students. But I also stayed in other districts when my favorite apartment in the 5th wasn’t available. I really got to know the vibe of each neighborhood in Paris.

You mentioned a membership card, that gave you free entry to the Musée d’Orsay, membership card for what? 

It was the one-year pass sold by the Musée d’Orsay. While most tourists must spend hours in the museum because it is the only time in their life they will be there, I had the privilege of visiting casually and just seeing those works of art that interested me. One afternoon I just spent time with the Van Goghs, and to get through a cold, rainy morning I sat in front of Thomas Couture’s Romans during the Decadence, noticing every detail. It was wonderful to have a world-class museum right in my own neighborhood.

Finally, it’s a beautiful book. The quality is superb, it is absolutely fascinating, and I love the extra pictures and history you have included.

I’m glad you are enjoying the book! That’s why I made it, to share my view, my joie de vivre for Paris and its bridges.

Palace bridges

About Michael

Michael’s activities also include award-winning book design, film editing, and sound recording. He has visited more than 50 countries, has photographed penguins in Antarctica, trekked in the Himalayas, and has cycled from Las Vegas to Washington, D.C.

He has taught media production and technology arts as well as photography, art history and visual storytelling. Michael is an expert speaker on Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art.

Giveaway

Best of all, here’s the chance of a giveaway. Not something I normally do, but I actually think this book is worth it. It’s open internationally, 15 copies available, go for it.

And, read this first:

http://superlucky.me/2013/07/how-to-enter-rafflecopter-giveaways/

Rafflecopter giveaway

Photos from website by permission. Book provided through iRead Book Tours.

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110 comments on “An American in Paris

  1. What a great post! When I was much younger I went on a 2-week camping tour of Europe (a bus tour) and my second-favourite place was Paris. (Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland has a permanent ranking of first.) I didn’t see a lot, since we were only there for one full day, and I was suffering from severe sunburn on my legs from a full day at the beach on the Riviera (sans sun creme) — but I loved what I saw. And I didn’t notice the bridges at all, I’m sad to say — except as paths to other parts of the city, and the architecture that drew my attention.

    Although I loved the review of this book, I even more enjoyed the interview. I learned a lot about how to get along with the French (with minimal French) and was encouraged. My poor attempts at French must not have followed the proper ettiquette rules — or else were so horrible I offended people — because no one would talk to me unless I spoke English. Or maybe times have just changed.

    In any case, Paris remains one of the places I’d love to go back to some time. And when I do, I will pay more attention to the bridges.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Diana. I’ve got a few tales about my Parisian trips, so when I scan some of my photos in, I’ll post on everypic. Not in the near future the way I’m performing though. But as your blog hasn’t appeared yet, I’m not feeling too guilty ;)

      The bridge that stays in my mind is one of the Austerlitz ones, either Charles de Gaulle, or Pont Austerlitz. I was rushing to Gare d’Austerlitz to get the train to Madrid a few years back and thought I was nearly there, but this bridge seemed endless. The Seine is a wide river! Especially downstream.

      I asked to do an inteview partly because I like Paris and used to know it relatively well, and also because I thought it would be interesting to have more detail about Michael’s year in Paris. And he came out with some interesting responses I think. I used to do OK in Paris when I was younger and spoke French not Spanish! ‘Bonjour,’ pause, beam, ‘Je veux un café y un croissant, s’il vous plaît.’ Another beam. ‘Oui, mademoiselle, tu parles bien français.’ Well, I don’t think so, but still it was very nice of him to say so. ‘Merci beaucoup.’ Of such things are nice memories made of.

      It was always pretty easy for me to visit to be fair, the UK was pretty near and I did study French at school. Plus, it was en route to the UK once I’d moved to Spain.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Our first trip was during an Easter in the mid seventies. The three childrenwere being looked after by my parents. We travelled by VW campervan kitted out for sleeping and simple cooking. After reaching Paris and looking around for most of the day, we found a parking spot smack in the middle of Champs Elysees and as there were other campers there decided to sleep there.
    We thought it a bit cheeky but next morning there were many of us stretching our arms getting rid of pyjamas and driving off.
    We were so surprised it was possible.
    We should visit soon again but Champs will be out, I bet.
    Great article and pictures.

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    • Hey we could have been there at the same time! Mine was early/mid seventies. Can’t remember the trip times though. Might have been summer not easter. ‘T wasn’t very warm. That is a cool tale though. No, I don’t think you will be sleeping in the Champs, but there again, you won’t be in the campervan will you? Thank you :)

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  3. A quality book.I, too, found the interview very interesting. I loved his reply, ‘bread’.
    Where I live, much smaller than Paris, we have over 500 bridges, 320 of these the responsibility of the council. I’d like to see his book about those.

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    • Without a doubt, it is extremely good quality book. I’m not into coffee table books per se, so I liked the text/history/facts he included, that made it a much more rounded book. Glad you enjoyed the interview.

      Now which council would that be? I know it’s north-east somewhere, but I’ve forgotten just where. Tyne bridges are interesting. There are probably quite a few of those, especially going up river say, to Chollerford.

      A challenge for Michael? Doubt it has the allure of Paris though …

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Loved the post. Definitely will look for the book. It even makes me want to go to Paris, which has never been one of my favorites. I’ve been a few times and loved, of course, the history and beauty. But it never spoke to me the way London or Rome or even other cities in France did. Maybe I need to give it another chance.

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    • Good, I enjoyed writing it too. I think, as Michael says, what comes over in both the book and his interview is his love of Parisian life. It’s certainly a celebration of Paris. Have to say I have always like it, maybe because I was an impressionale francophile teenager. I am sure you would love the history in it, that’s one of the aspects that appealed to me. You could try the giveaway, but see convo with Ark above on that one!

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      • Free is always good, but then I feel guilty about not supporting the writer. And reading the Ark comment warns me that I will be endlessly annoyed by the amount of info that they will want me to give them. I’ll probably go see how much the book costs and then decide about the giveaway.

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        • It’s not actually info you give them. It’s actually promotional hits. Anyway, 280 pages of large full colour photos throughout comes in at $85. I don’t think that’s bad given the type of book and the high quality. But if you go for the giveaway, watch the how to video first that I added, ie you must post your links correctly or you will be disqualified should you win. It’s easy when you’ve got your head round it. Easy for me to say, I’ve got the book! But now I know how it works (I only looked into it for Ark, he is a stone god after all) I’d do it for books I was interested in.

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  5. I didn’t realize they had so many bridges. 37 that cross the river. Now I’m wondering how many cross the Thames. I remember my first time in Paris. It was only a few years ago :)

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    • I suppose most of us don’t go counting bridges in cities! I’ve got a book called Bridges of London or the River Thames. Or something. Must look it out.

      See, most of us do remember our first time in Paris, and other memorable cities to be fair.

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  6. This was a thoroughly enjoyed morning read “Rough”! This is a book I believe I must have as a history-buff — Roman/French design and function with vivid images(!?)… are you kidding me! Large wide pages like you’d find in a childrens section (with pop-ups!)? Shut tha front door! Where do I sign!?

    Oh, your directions were quite clear on that: “…I actually think this book is worth [Rafflegiveaway]. Go for it.” :D

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    • Good afternoon/morning Professor. I think the history was what sold it to me. It wasn’t just 355 colour photos (yawn boring) there was actually something interesting about each bridge, and in each entry, a snapshot of the history of Paris, so it was well conceived, IMO. You even get double page spreads. No pop-ups though, so calmate.

      Check out the raffley thingy link I posted in reply to Ark for how to negotiate the mysteries of rafflecopter if you aren’t already savvy.

      I like a decent read in the morning, it’s most annoying if there is nothing of interest posted overnight! So thank you.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Reading your questions for Michael and his answers, I was particularly fascinated (happy?) by how quickly the native French corrected his etiquette — perceived by them as rude and self-absorbed maybe? — and I assume they’d do the same with their own natives, but I’d imagine that rarely occurs. Not sure. Based on what I know about the French in general, they greatly value common courtesy, right?

        In contrast and as an example, last weekend while I was inside the local library, a young tall large man spoke at a normal decibal level on his cell phone for near 15-minutes, completely oblivious to the common courtesy observed and expected in a public library! At about the 14th minute mark I was about to walk over to him and ask him to whisper very softly OR take his call outside, even into the bathroom! I was also hoping that the library attendants would ask him to stop or step outside, but they either couldn’t hear him (unbelievably) or ignored him.

        I don’t have any problem in total strangers politely, tactfully, but confidently upholding common courtesy and etiquette like those French did with Michael. I wish here more Texans followed better etiquette, but if not the recipients you require some lessons humbly and apologetically take it. :/

        Thoughts “Rough”? ;)

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        • Thoughts, “Tab”? I’m slightly brain dead at the moment. They are thin on the ground. I wrote this post a few days ago, and left the mechanics and photo uploading for this morning. I can do graphic design/layout without engaging sleepy grey cells.

          I would think most people would value common courtesy, but seems not. Or perhaps it is just older people. My permanent gripe on older posts on here is people, ie rude children AND adults being discourteous on buses. When you have people aged 50–70 upwards giving up seats for each other and younger ones hogging all the front seats, society has taken a huge step backwards (and usually fallen over, on the bus).

          In our case, Spaniards tend to help with the language. In our early months here, many years ago, we were asking for potatoes. ‘LAS patatas,’ said the veg person, ‘son femininas.’ Similarly, Partner’s workmates (colleagues?! ;) ) on the construction sites gently correct his Spanish. That’s really helpful. But as for general etiquette outside language, not noticed it. Perhaps because, cuando en españa … haz lo que haga españa (I may have my tenses wrong there).

          That’s the most I can manage for you darling at short notice on a tired Friday evening while you prepare to paint Texas red.

          Liked by 1 person

          • …while you prepare to paint Texas red.” Hahaha!

            Darling, Texas was painted blood-red (purple until it oxidizes) in 1836, more red in 1845, redder still in 1861 thru 1865, and if it’s possible to be even more red than the deepest darkest red, then it happened again in 1995 and shows no signs of fading! ;-P

            But I appreciate your comical sentiment Ma’am. Thank you.

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  7. Marvelous post, Kate, just marvelous. The photographs are dreamy and make me yearn to see Paris. I once watched a travel show discussing how to survive in Paris. The American woman hosting it lived there and was quite firm in one thing: when entering a shop, one simply cannot barge in and start rifling through the merchandise. Simply cannot! One must greet the shopkeeper with Bonjour, Madam or Monsieur, and then request their help. How polite and civilized. Seems the least we could do.

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    • Thank you Barbara. I guess because I’ve visited and stayed there a number of times, combined with Michael’s enthusiasm and lovely photos, it was an easy post (for me) to write.

      Actually we do that in Spain and, to some extent in Gib, too. I’m not even talking about posh shops with expensive goods, it’s expected in the village supermarkets, the plant shop, the water office to pay the bill. In the case of the latter, you walk in and say ‘buenos días, quien es ultimo?’ Or just ‘el ultimo?’ Who is last, because there isn’t a set queue, so horrors! It involves speaking to people. If you walk into the village super and say ‘hola’ just generally, a number of people may reply. A different world.

      In non-basic shops, ie outside my village, eg clothes or tableware shops for example, you will naturally say buenos días, acknowledge the reply, and then they will ask you how they can help you. None of this browsing aimlessly! The last time it happened it was quite useful, save me looking all round the shop for a pestle and mortar. Really good service :)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love that hands-on treatment from knowledgeable shop owners who can take one look at you and know your size or whatever. Such an improvement over a bored teenager staring into her phone and telling you with every fiber of her being that she hopes you won’t bother her. It’s funny, Kate, how regional these behaviors are. When I moved down South from New England (Boston area) , I used to find it annoying and intrusive to be cheerfully greeted by shop owners. “Hey! How are y’all?” Irritating to have to respond when I just wanted to get down to business. Now I am utterly transformed and expect to be greeted and appreciate it when it happens. I’m happy to chat a bit. And I find people up north rather curt and abrupt now. How we adapt to our surroundings.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I’ve always flummoxed clothes people, I am so not a standard size. I was basically mega-slim but with broad shoulders (thanks mum!) so their assessment based on my breasts ended up with something pulling across the shoulders. ‘I told you so’ always came to mind. I bought a Jean Muir suit, jacket fitted beautifully but the skirt needed to be well taken in.

          I do like shops where people know you. Where old people with poor eyesight or who can’t read ask the staff for the right yoghurt, and Loli takes the wrong one back to the fridge and changes it for him. And no one in the queue taps the foot. Or where you can just hand someone a load of change and know they will take exactly the correct amount.

          I’m British so I like good morning, buenos días. Hi, how are y’all is like have a nice day. First time I really heard that was in Auckland (you former colonies so like to get rid of our nice Brit customs😉) and it really grated. I like the formality, not the superficiality.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. I was in Paris last spring and the pictures that I took aren’t even close to the gorgeous ones here. I’ve written a post or 4 about my trip, but I feel I should go back rather than just write about it.

    I had absolutely no trouble communicating with anyone and everyone was very friendly. I remember waiters making animal sounds to explain items on the menu… fantastic experience!

    Didn’t meet any surly people at all. I don’t even speak Franglais. Beyond merci beacoup, oui, s’il vous plait I learned to say “une cafe noir, une cafe aulait” for me and my wife. We used the subway and buses in the city and drove out into the Loire Valley and spent a night visiting Mont St Michel and the beaches of Normandy. Had no trouble at all anywhere!

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    • Well, you probably weren’t planning on publishing a photography book! I’ve missed your Paris posts, but I’ve missed loads of posts over the last year or so.

      I never had the animal sounds experience. In my early days, I ate meat, later, I went for salads and Je suis végétarien (ne?)

      Mostly when I was there my French was pretty passable, so I found it OK too. The more you visit, the longer you stay, especially outwith standard holidays, the more chance of encountering surlies anywhere.

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  9. People used to always have a lovely coffee table book out in their homes and Life Magazine, maybe. This book sounds like a winner. Good pictures with interesting angles/details and history. Bridges and their histories are always fascinating.
    Wish I had gotten to Paris earlier when thing were less complicated. (It was never less expensive, I bet. The locals would probably get very angry with my poor French as I oddly seem to toss in Spanish words here and there – it’s very odd..my brain either gets tired and says “Hey, close enough” or it just never switches language gears well. Most of my French instructors were pretty understanding and give me that “look” at which I’d hastily correct what I said….Except that last woman who took it as an insult to her teaching or something. She was from Paris and quite arrogant and snooty about it…so I always wondered how did she end up where she was….)
    Thanks for the dreamy trip.

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    • Yeah, I remember those pretentious days. In the UK, the magazines would be Vogue/Harpers, Country Life, and Homes and Gardens or similar. Mind you, this book is so big, it would need to stay out on a coffee table. (Must find space for coffee table, currently upside down on chrst of drawers, and then I can suitable home book)

      I’ll never forget opening my mouth at Gare du Nord and trying to ask for a single to Calais and all that would come out was ‘una ida por calais’. Contrast that with ten years previously, when after ten days or so in Spain (and Gib) I was so pleased to get to Morocco where I could speak French!

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      • Oh, I forgot Country Life. I have a huge coffee table book of Dali I grabbed off a discount table…guess everyone else had cleared their tables for dancing?
        They were much more amused and friendly with my French in Morocco than in Paris. Got a lovely light hand woven blanket from there that is still soft and sturdy. The shop keepers seemed pleased I wanted that rather than tourist trinkets. It is lovely and finely done.

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        • I liked Dali until I went to the museum in Figueres. I still like him, but I OD’d a bit there,

          We were in Tanger for Partner’s 40th. Rather than a birthday card, I went to buy a postcard as a souvenir card. When I explained what it was for, they wouldn’t let me pay. Plenty of Moroccan stories …

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          • Found they were the nicest people…even with my Frespaneng.
            (We lost power last night in the storms – avoided the tornadoes here. Bad storm pattern we hope moves out this weekend. The German who lived in huddle in the inner room tornado country for a bit gets really nervous. No warning sirens here…you just watch for green sky. Nat. Weather station complex not far from here. More wet dog towels!)

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          • I’ve got a couple of tales from Morocco, trouble is, I don’t have any photos to go with them. I’ll have to do the old wiki trawl, but never looks quite the same to me. In Tanger we stayed in the Petit Soco, in the heart of the old town. Not many non-locals around.

            Pleasant and sunny here, maybe we’ll get your storms later. Poor German, Pippa says not to worry, go to sleep and wait for it to pass. Snowy says, what storms? What are they? We’ve had storms since getting Snows but he’s got no point of reference for being frightened of them, so therefore he isn’t.

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  10. I have a kind of love hate relationship with Paris… I suspect it’s because on my first visit, as I was going down the stairs into the metro, a bloke rushing up the other way shouted, “bonjour ma jolie” and squeezed my tit. I’m afraid I was so gobsmacked that I told him, in French, to go f*** himself before my manners kicked in. I was also advised by several random strangers that I should put my long hair under a hat and not go out after dark or I’d be kidnapped and taken to Algeria as a mail order bride! It was certainly interesting.

    Cheers

    MTM

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    • That sounds similar to my ‘Les vierges Allemandes’ comments, except yours was rather more offensive given that it got physical. We did have my exchange friend’s parents walking behind us though, or else who knows? Paris the city of lovers is clearly a euphemism for city of sex.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks for the great post. You featured my photos beautifully! I enjoyed reading all the insightful comments. You have a following of savvy travelers. While Paris holds universal appeal it also offers each visitor her or his own personal experience. Over time I switched from “I love Paris” to “Paris loves me.” The city has something special to share with each person. It is so fun to read about other’s unique experiences and connect them to my own. Bonne Journée!

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    • Thank you Michael. It was a pleasure to read (and re-read) your book, and it seemed the best way to convey an impression was to use some of the photos. I have a very mixed following who have interests in art, architecture, photography, history and travel, so I figured it should appeal on at least one of those counts! I think you’re only the fourth author who has actually commented on a book tour post, and two of those were merely ‘thank you for the review’ so I appreciate you taking the time to visit, read, and comment. Merci beaucoup, y que pases un buen dia, because my spanish is better than my french these days! Wishing you much success with Bridges. I’ll be adding goodreads and amazon (post pub) reviews later.

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    • Thanks Mags, it’s truly a beautiful book. I’ve always liked France, I suppose because it’s so near relatively, to the UK, so it was easy to visit. Hope you are all well too, I’ll try and find time to catch up with your blogs, nice to see you :)

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  12. Just catching up after a weekend in another European city – but Paris remains my favourite. You were right when you said last week that you had a good book coming up for review – this one looks stunning, his pictures are fantastic. And an interesting take on showing a city from a different perspective – it’s bridges. I was also interested to read that he spent time in Saintes Maries. I’ve spent countless summers down there in the beautiful Camargue. There’s a place for a photo journal – and some very weird and wonderful history within the town. Made me feel quite nostalgic!
    Back to Paris for a min, my first encounter there was like yours – an exchange with a Parisian family. I wasn’t enamoured on that first trip – far too young to appreciate everything the place had to offer. Most of my memories of that time are of smoking menthol cigarettes in the Luxembourg Gardens, listening to The Doors . And the smell on the metro. Which hasn’t changed much, actually!

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    • Hope you had a lovely weekend. Blog post to follow? I’ll be on the lookout. I don’t usually do trailers, but this one merited it. It was a real pleasure to read, absorb, look, admire, and review. And to be able to create a post using Michael’s photos. As it’s a blog book tour, I tend to check out the other posts sometimes, and the lack of creativity astounds me. People take the publicity blurb and standard photoshots and don’t have a spark of originality in them. I mean this is a photography book for crying out loud, what is the obvious thing to include on said book review? Duh.

      I think I read somewhere that Michael wanted a different take, cafes and this, that and the other had been done, but not bridges. I think it was a good choice, a manageable number and chance to get in a few other famous buildings as part of the plot. Plus, the idea of looking at the Seine, it’s history, the history of the bridges all worked in nicely. I admired the conception and execution. It was very well done.

      I’ve not been to the Camargue, although always fancied it. Sounds so wild and free and exotic. Probably thinking of the horses :D

      What a reprobate you were. I’m glad my exchange didn’t involve such dubious activities. Have you been to Pere Lachaise or whatever it’s called? Amazing place, we hit the everything is free weekend by chance and had a brill time getting into some great places and the cemetery was one.

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      • Yes, we did get to the cemetery. I was in a black and white photography experimental stage then which went horribly wrong. This was before the digital age you see, so my camera skills weren’t up to my picture editing ones! Didn’t find Morrison’s resting place – if indeed it is there at all – but enjoyed the gothic experience. Have you done the catacombs? We nearly did the last time we were there but ran out of time.
        I think you’d love the Camargue. There are many Spanish settlers there which somehow gives the place a wild, exotic vibe. And the gypsies, of course, who I’ve always been fascinated with. It’s the only place I’ve been horse riding, the ‘promenades en cheval’ are so easy that the horses just follow well trodden paths. It does allow you to get right into the wilderness however and spot some amazing wild life. One down side: mosquitoes.

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        • It was the first time I’d wandered ‘properly’ round a cemetery, rather than going to the local churchyard at dusk and walking through it as a dare. There was the open main entrance and then at the other end was a spooky tree-lined avenue …

          Anyway, yes Morrison’s grave does exist. I can personally vouch for that. Or did back in the 90s. It was the one with the permanent guard at the time. Amazing. It was all very Gothic wasn’t it? Some of those memorials were bigger than places people live in.

          I think I would too. Nice wild places suit the roughseas. And of course they do flamenco there too don’t they? I’ve been riding in the past, even bought my own crash hat or whatever they are called. No whip or boots though. I can manage the odd mozzy, but not loads. One camp site in Portugal at Olhao was wonderful, but it was right next to a marshy/lagoon area … we had a limit of how long we could stay there.

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          • Ah, there we go. I was probably too intent on working out my wretched camera settings than searching properly.
            Yes, flamenco is very much the thing in Saintes Maries. Apparently the Gypsy Kings met up there and started their band, at one of the festivals. Also Manitas de Plata …..

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  13. First up great pics. Every decent city has iconic bridges across a river. I think that’s more important than having a cathedral as a sign somewhere can be classed as s city. And Paris, frustrating and beautiful Paris. My first experince summer 1976 with three mates and a beaten up Ford escort estate. Mike, whose car it was, only wanted to drive round L’Etoile to prove he could survive. We camped in e Bois de Boulounge and that is entirely an other story! Love the memories

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    • Absolutely, they are great photos, hence, it’s a very good book. Assuming you like photos/bridges/Paris, of course. I’ve got a decent pic of bridges over Pisa, which isn’t the first thing that comes to mind (yes I’ve got the other photos too) so I think you have a valid point. Sydney and its smaller sibling in Newcastle come to mind too.

      Ha. So my theory is right. We all do remember our first trip to Paris. I think I beat you by two years as my visit was 1974, pre O-level year. Interesting, like Gerard, that you camped in Paris. I remember thinking there was a strange sort of order in the random chaotic driving. A bit like leaving the M1 and driving into London through Swiss Cottage etc. When you know the right lanes it’s a breeze. When you don’t you seem to end up,at Brent Cross.

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  14. magnifique post… I love Paris where I lived for several years and I’ve loved Oscar Wilde’s works since my high-school years… respectful regards & mille merci! :) Mélanie

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  15. Paris is one of the cities I’d like to see one day. Personally I prefer museums, but the bridges look quite nice. Definitely look better than the ones in Frankfurt-am-Main or Washington, D.C.

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  16. Bridges fascinate me, so I loved this post. Not that one could really play Pooh-sticks from any of them, of course. Still …
    As for Paris, I suppose I will have to resign myself to not visiting it. We tried to get visas on our last UK visit, but it was more uphill than Everest. *sigh*

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    • Thanks Col. They are lovely arent they? Gracious elegant yet functional too. Such a clever combination. Well, I think the Seine is a bit too big and powerful for Pooh sticks.

      Ah. Schengen huh? I never understand that.

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  17. Great interview and book review, Kate, and Michael’s photos are wonderful. The Passerelle Simone-de-Beauvoir bridge is so curvy, that it just had to be named after a woman. :) I’ve been to Paris only three times in my life, but hope to go again one day. I’m sure the book will be a great success.

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    • Thanks Sylvia, it’s nice when it’s easy to write a good review, usually negative ones flow better :D it’s a real treat for the eyes though. So pleasurable to read. Lost count of the times I’ve been. Love the Seine, Montmartre, Sacré Coeur, and the fifth, similar to Michael’s favourites I suppose.

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  18. It’s a doozy! Skim read the interview because lucky man that he is I simply don’t have time today. Just popped in to say hi. Absolutely love the look (thought it was your photo initially :) ) Might even consider buying it.

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    • Very good Jo. I’m so not up on Americanisms despite frequenting their blogs. Never sounds quite right coming out of Brit lips.

      Haha. My Paris photos aren’t quite as good. But I didn’t spend a year there. It’s a good book though.

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  19. Really interesting, thanks for letting me know about the post. Makes me all yearny for another visit, sigh. The next time I go will probably be on the way to Euro Disney. Oh, the shame!

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    • As you mentioned Paris in your top five, I thought you might like a different look at it, ie the bridge perspective. Plus Michael’s photos are good. I’ve always tended to walk around Paris a lot, usually from Gare du Nord to the southern/western stations. See so much more of the place than jumping on the metro. I’ve used the bus a few times too. Ticketing was a bit confusing though.

      The shame indeed. Rather you than me :D

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