Curiosities of Paris
An idiosyncratic guide to overlooked delights... hidden in plain sight
By Dominique Lesbros, translated by Simon Beaver
“A city is nothing if not a vast cabinet of curiosities.”—Dominique Lesbros
This absorbing compendium is an essential addition to the library of the armchair traveler and flâneur alike. Lavishly illustrated with 800 color photographs, this fact-packed treasury leads the reader on a scavenger hunt through the streets of Paris, pointing out overlooked architectural details and structures that once served a useful everyday purpose but whose functions have been obscured by the passage of time.
As the author tells us, “The aim of this art (known technically as interstitial tourism) is to explore the nooks and crannies of the urban landscape, rather than its more aristocratic facets. There is no better way to come to know your city and feel its heartbeat.”
Organized by subject—fountains and wells; centuries-old shop signs; vestiges of wars and ancient Egypt; hotels of legend; civic measurement devices; traces of rites and superstitions; remarkable trees; sundials and meridians; equestrian Paris; romantic ruins; unusual tombs, stairways, and passageways; religious relics; mosaics; public barometers and thermometers; and more—this delightful guide deepens the reader’s knowledge and appreciation of Paris through the centuries.
The book also includes three themed walks (along the city’s ancient walls, in the steps of Quasimodo, vestiges of the French Revolution), as well as an index of street names and more than 600 photos.
“…this [book] is for the hardcore Paris aficionado, or the 'interstitial tourist,' who the book defines as someone who prefers to 'explore the nooks and crannies of the urban landscape rather than its more aristocratic facets’…Smaller than a coffeetable tome but more robust than a pocket guide, Curiosities of Paris offers up more than 800 photos accompanied by captions that, while brief, pack a punch.” —The Paris Blog