The Companion Guide to Paris

Anthony Glyn’s ‘Companion Guide to Paris’ describes a collection of strolls along the Seine, down the Champs Elysées, through museums, galleries and parks.  Along the way Mr Glyn displays a dry humour and a taste for salacious gossip… Descriptions of areas such as the Ile de la Cité have a personal touch and depth not found in competing guides. THE ECONOMIST

Sadly Anthony Glyn did not live long enough to update his wonderful Paris volume but we were hugely fortunate that Susan Glyn, his widow, agreed to take on the challenge. The result is a perfect example of a Companion Guide: informed, authoritative, beautifully written accounts infused with intimate personal experience and filled with chatty, gossipy asides. They won’t help you book a hotel room but they will guide you to a city’s treasures, both the famous landmarks and those special secret spots that only a well-informed local would know of.

Let’s take a whirlwind tour of Paris….

Notre-Dame from the south

On the Sainte-Chapelle:
It is dazzling and must look today as much as it did on the day it was finished in 1248. A church built entirely of stained glass! Henry III of England was overwhelmed by it. Even on a cloudy day it is like being inside a huge jewel. The very idea of such a building was new – churches had often been used as fortresses, but how to defend a glass shrine? How to keep the roof up without any supporting walls? The achievement of the architect, Pierre de Montreau, was immense and, seven hundred years later, the slender buttresses show no cracks, the chapel no sign of collapsing. Immense too was the cost, eight hundred thousand livres d’or, and we cannot think that St Louis grudged a penny of it.

There are fifteen hundred square yards of stained glass in the chapel, all of it (except for the later rose window) predominantly in red and blue. But there are so many shades of red and blue, carefully and harmoniously blended, that there is no monotony. The windows are a series of Bible scenes, a vast illustrated Bible, like the illuminated manuscripts.

Chapter One, Ile de la Cité, p. 14

Art Nouveau Metro sign

On the Seine:
The seven miles of the Seine in Paris are without doubt the most famous river-front in the world, celebrated in paint, romanticized in song. Just as the Seine originally created Paris, so Parisians have cherished the Seine, turning it into a long park or garden, full of trees and water. Unlike the Seine at Rouen, its course through Paris has been designed for pleasure, for strolling, cruising, fishing, loving, sunbathing, sprawling, picnicking, drinking, living and, for some, sleeping sous les ponts de Paris.

Chapter Four, The Seine, p. 39.

On the Musée Jacquemart-André: “It was built for a member of a Protestant banking Family, Edouard André, whose portrait we see, in military uniform, painted by Winterhalter in 1857. It must have been a highly successful bank, as its owners, Edouard André and his wife Nélie Jacquemart, a well-known portrait-painter, were able to travel all over Europe and the East buying art treasures for their home which now make up this priceless collection . … Nélie Jacquemart bequeathed it to the Institut de France in 1912 on condition that nothing was to be moved from its place, as

the arrangement of each room was an expression of the personal taste of the owners. French people, even if they are not art-lovers, go to see what it used to be like to be really rich.

Chapter Six, The Champs- Elysées, p. 79.

Fountain at the Place de la Concorde

On Père Lachaise, Paris’s most famous cemetery:
The most romantic spot, undoubtedly, is Chopin’s grave, with the falling ground and the trees meeting overhead; the tomb is beautiful too, with its mourning nymph. There will be many flowers and probably a group being eloquently lectured about the Raindrop prelude. Chopin chose the site himself, near the grave of his friend Bellini, and a little of the earth here is soil from Poland, brought by the composer himself in a silver box when he left Poland aged twenty-one. He was always ‘half in love with easeful death’, half in love with his native land.

Chapter Nine, Eastern Paris, p. 144.

See the complete list here:

The Companion Guide to Paris
By Anthony Glyn
Revised by Susan Glyn
9781900639200, Paperback, £11.70 or $16.22

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