For Map Maniacs!

foret noireThe first foret noire I ever ate was outside a patisserie in the 9th arrondissement. In typical American fashion, I tore into it right on the sidewalk outside the shop. Something remarkable happened that spring day on rue des Martyrs. I FORGOT WHERE I WAS. The experience of eating this fluffy delight of chocolate, cherry and cream enveloped me for a long, luscious moment to a place beyond time and geography. I don’t know how long I was standing there before I came to with chocolate all over my hands and mouth.

What does that have to do with the new book Paris Les Boulevards (Rizzoli)? Everything. Like my street-side taste-treat, this slim hardcover offers a delectable nugget that has the power to transport you into a bubble of Gallic magic. It will be short, sweet trip, as the book is comprised of just 11 gate-folded illustrated maps.

paris les blvds 2The card-stock pages each open out into six-panel panoramas of the center of people-watching in the late 1800s: the wide boulevards in the center of the city. Boulevard des Italiens, rue de la Paix, and Avenue de l’Opera are among those grand spaces, whose facades ushered in a new era of glamor and uniformity, and whose wide sidewalks invited flaneurs and dragueurs. If these map illustrations of the main 9th arrondissement thoroughfares look vintage, it is because this book is actually a rare find of a 19th century volume that Rizzoli has re-published.

paris les boulevards partial

The book isn’t comprehensive; you won’t even find Boulevard Haussmann in it. And the texts, written by museum curator Pamela Golbin, are less satisfying than Wikipedia entries. But Paris les Boulevards is a snackā€”an unusual one–not a meal. Eat up, map maniacs.

Comments are closed