4 Books and a Film that Compels You to Paris

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Eiffel Tower, Paris.

Like most people know, Paris is one of the most romantic places in the world. Its beauty conjures up a whimsical fancy that tinkers just within your grasp. You go to it and that dream suddenly is reality, and this reality is so much more than the fantasy. Yes, Paris is one of the most romantic places in the world. Its easy to fall in love in Paris, more often than not in my experience, it easy to fall in love with Paris, every time you visit.

I might be alone on this one, but the best times to visit Paris, for me, is alone. I find I’m seeing a lover as if for the first time, roaming about on the streets and trying and failing to communicate in broken french. There is an air of sophistication that clouds you as you step foot in Paris, you are suddenly in a friends’ s company, a lover’s embrace, a stranger’s intrigue all at once. You’re in awe, in love,  and at peace. Your curiosity is piqued and your soul at peace.  It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

I have read less than a handful of books that conjure the memory of Paris every time I pick them up and even less the films. But every book and film that has done this, has done so, fully and completely, taking me back to the city and sometimes taking me to place in Paris I have never been or a time I could never experience. Still the visions of the places told and shown still leaves me with a vivid knowledge and comprehension of the city, and many times a visceral need to visit it again and see the places I had missed previously and re-see those I had with new eyes.

Let me begin with the books that for me bring back that unique reaction inexplicably reserved for people in love with the city.

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Frenched by Melanie Harlow

Blurb:

When Tucker Branch, playboy heir to Branch Bolt and Screw, screws and bolts a week before their wedding, Mia Devine wants nothing more than to crawl under her newly monogrammed sheets and plan a funeral for her dignity. But her friends convince her that bitter tastes better when it’s drowned in Bordeaux, so Mia grits her teeth and packs her bags, determined to make the best of her luxurious Paris honeymoon—alone.

She never planned on meeting Lucas Fournier.

The easygoing bartender’s scruffy good looks and less-than-sympathetic ear annoy her at first, but when she takes him up on his offer to show her around the city, she discovers that the romance of Paris isn’t just a myth.

Nor is the simultaneous O.

The last thing Mia needs is another doomed love affair, but since she only has a week, she figures she might as well enjoy la vie en O with Lucas while she can. But each day—and night—with Lucas is better than the last, and suddenly her heart is telling her this is more than a rebound fling.

Is it just the seduction of Paris…or could this be the real thing?

Reading this book, I’m starkly aware how my first impression off the blurb did nothing to indicate the depth of beauty at which this author wrote. It was as if I sat in the words she wrote, her descriptions were so vivid and alive. The review for this book will be coming up soon, however this is not a review as such but my attempt to explain how when reading this book you felt the aura of the story a if you were hearing the Edith Piaf’s song La Vie En Rose for the first time. Paris is epitomised, foremost and clear in your mind. The city was almost a character in its own right. Without giving to much away, I will say this, the story took me through places in Paris I had been and places I hadn’t, all the time suggesting a different perspective to the luminous city.

I loved reading the locations mentioned so much I wrote down all the places and decide to take an impromptu bus trip to city of love and visit them. On a very basic budget of course, luckily I lived in London at this time and the journey to and fro was quit economical . Trying to save as much of the non exist funds that I did have, I decided to couch surf. Couch-surfing it is basically a system where people around the world kindly put up there couch or extra bed to travellers for no fee. You can find find more information at couchsurfing.org. I stayed with a very lovely gentleman from Toulouse. When I told him about my spontaneous reason for coming, he smiled a knowing smile saying how he too had done something quite similar in Madrid and I felt suddenly at home with a like-minded soul. However, you don’t have to be as willing to drop everything but you might feel tempted after reading this book. Some of the places mentioned in the book that I visited were, Musee Rodin, Clignancourt flea market, Pere Lachaise cemetery.

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Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Blurb:

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming,beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend. 

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

This YA book was one that got me into really appreciating french independent films. The book does not feature as many locations as the first book, it did describe beautifully the way the protagonist saw certain locations in Paris. And certain activities embarked in the city were one that I would not have thought of participating in in the city. I also love the description of the Notre Dame through the couple’s eyes, and though I have been there, when I went back subsequent to reading the book, I did notice quite a few details I had missed the first time. It also inspired me to pick up Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre-Dame.

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The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

Blurb

An inheritance from a mysterious stranger… 
An abandoned perfume shop on the Left Bank of Paris.. 
And three exquisite perfumes that hold a memory… and a secret

London, 1955: Grace Monroe is a fortunate young woman. Despite her sheltered upbringing in Oxford, her recent marriage has thrust her into the heart of London’s most refined and ambitious social circles. However, playing the role of the sophisticated socialite her husband would like her to be doesn’t come easily to her—and perhaps never will.

Then one evening a letter arrives from France that will change everything. Grace has received an inheritance. There’s only one problem: she has never heard of her benefactor, the mysterious Eva d’Orsey.

So begins a journey that takes Grace to Paris in search of Eva. There, in a long-abandoned perfume shop on the Left Bank, she discovers the seductive world of perfumers and their muses, and a surprising, complex love story. Told by invoking the three distinctive perfumes she inspired, Eva d’Orsey’s story weaves through the decades, from 1920s New York to Monte Carlo, Paris, and London.

But these three perfumes hold secrets. And as Eva’s past and Grace’s future intersect, Grace realizes she must choose between the life she thinks she should live and the person she is truly meant to be.

Illuminating the lives and challenging times of two fascinating women,The Perfume Collector weaves a haunting, imaginative, and beautifully written tale filled with passion and possibility, heartbreak and hope. 

This is one of my all time favourite books. It was my 2012 book of the year. A little known fact about me, I love collecting perfumes, scents I think are very sensual and can be intoxicating if used right. So when I stumbled upon this book I was intrigued to say the least. As it turns out it was so much more that what it first appears to be. It did heighten and educate my appreciation for scents, it also showed Paris, as well as other countries, in a fresh light. Being based in the year 1955, you would assume it might not be relevant to the current city, you’d be very wrong. It enlightened my architectural knowledge of Paris’ buildings. The beauty of the city shines throughout the book, and the occasional novelties you find in the typical Parisian’s daily routine became suddenly logical. The book also inflamed my desire  to write. My review of this book can be found here.

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The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Blurb:

An ingenious code hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci. A desperate race through the cathedrals and castles of Europe. An astonishing truth concealed for centuries . . . unveiled at last.

While in Paris, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is awakened by a phone call in the dead of the night. The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum, his body covered in baffling symbols. As Langdon and gifted French cryptologist Sophie Neveu sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci—clues visible for all to see and yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.

Even more startling, the late curator was involved in the Priory of Sion—a secret society whose members included Sir Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo, and Da Vinci—and he guarded a breathtaking historical secret. Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine puzzle—while avoiding the faceless adversary who shadows their every move—the explosive, ancient truth will be lost forever.

Potentially my Book of the Year for 2014. I do not understand fully what kept me from reading this or what possessed me to think that after watching the movie I needn’t read the book. Silly. No offence to Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou but after reading this book the film just does not quite measure up, I doubt any retelling can. The book does a wonderful job of highlighting the Louvre museum in such a way that you’re tempted to go there immediately just to see if your imagination of the place and the beauty described in the book can be reality. It is. Oddly enough in my earlier trips to Paris I’d neglected to visit the Louvre. Lets just say it was everything I had imagined it to be.

Midnight in Paris Film Poster

Midnight In Paris (2011)

Directed by Woody Allen

Cast: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Marion Cotillard

Producer: Letty Aronson

Screenplay: Woody Allen

Synopsis:

While on a trip to Paris with his fiancée’s family, a nostalgic screenwriter finds himself mysteriously going back to the 1920s every day at midnight.

There is something about Woody, his films have a whimsical quality to them and this film is particular is better for it. I loved the music in this, it brought to life the breath the film possessed. I will always see Owen Wilson in my mind’s eye I when I walk along the Seine. This film left me breathless a lot of the time, inspired, in awe and just lost in the effortless manner it seemed to pull you into into a world so indicatively understandably Paris.

Bouns Tracks:

A playlist of some of the songs I listened to while writing this post, a few were discovered from the books and film mentioned. They are some of the music I have on my iPod that puts me in a Parisian state of mind. Enjoy!

Ne me Quitte Pas – Nina Simone

La Vie En Rose – Edith Piaf

La Mer – Charles Trenet

Les Feuilles Mortes – Yves Mon

Hymne A L’amour – Edith Piaf

Ne me Quitte Pas – Jacques Brel

Avec Le Temps – Leo Ferre

Si Tu Vois Ma Mère – Sidney Bechet

Quand On N’a Que L’amour – Jacques Brel

Les Copains D’Abord – George Brassens

 

Happy Dreaming!

 

 

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6 thoughts on “4 Books and a Film that Compels You to Paris

    1. Oh Wow! Thank you so much, My very first award nomination in anything 🙂 I have no idea what this means but will find out. Regardless, it is confidence boosting to be thought of positively for anything, let alone an award. Again thank you, thank you, thank you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Lol! Bless you Tealight! “Thank you so much, My very first award nomination in anything 🙂 I have no idea what this means…”

    Anyhoo nice round up and you are so right Paris should be ventured round at least once alone.

    Like

  2. I love Paris too. And Jacques Brel! His song ‘Quand On N’a Que L’amour’ reminds me a little of that poem of Verlaine’s: Dansons la gigue!

    Like

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