When I announced to my French colleague a couple of weeks ago that I was heading off to Paris, she gave me some great tips on her favourite haunts – more on that later – and also loaned me Paris: The Secret History, a book by Andrew Hussey which is a potted history starting with AD 987 and continuing right through to 2005 when the book was published. Being the history lover that I am, I delved right in a few days before I left. And I was still reading it while I visited – in parks and cafes and before going to sleep at night – and turned the final page on the Eurostar trip home.
Why is this important? Because Paris’ history lay not only beneath my sneakered feet but more specifically in a couple of the museums I chose to visit over the four days and this incidental reading material brought key events and their protagonsists more sharply into context and focus than any audio guide I could have hired.
So let me tell you a little about my pas de deux with Paris’ past.