I love France #3: September 1st


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This week, my book recommendation about France focuses on Paris. If you love history, and desire to refresh your French history with an eye on the evolution of Paris, this book should be a perfect fit. The book is divided into 7 periods, and goes until Général De Gaulle’s time.

Seven Ages of Paris

by Alistair Horne

496 pages

Vintage (April 13, 2004)

Here is the synopsis found on Goodreads:

In this luminous portrait of Paris, celebrated historian Alistair Horne gives us the history, culture, disasters, and triumphs of one of the world’s truly great cities. Horne makes plain that while Paris may be many things, it is never boring.

From the rise of Philippe Auguste through the reigns of Henry IV and Louis XIV (who abandoned Paris for Versailles); Napoleon’s rise and fall; Baron Haussmann’s rebuilding of Paris (at the cost of much of the medieval city); the Belle Epoque and the Great War that brought it to an end; the Nazi Occupation, the Liberation, and the postwar period dominated by de Gaulle—Horne brings the city’s highs and lows, savagery and sophistication, and heroes and villains splendidly to life. With a keen eye for the telling anecdote and pivotal moment, he portrays an array of vivid incidents to show us how Paris endures through each age, is altered but always emerges more brilliant and beautiful than ever. The Seven Ages of Paris is a great historian’s tribute to a city he loves and has spent a lifetime learning to know.


Alistair Horne is a journalist, historian and author of seventeen previous books, including A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962, The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916, How Far from Austerlitz?: Napoleon 1805-1815, and the official biography of British prime minister Harold Macmillan. He is a fellow at St. Anthony’s College, Oxford, and was educated at Millbrook School, New York. He lives in England. [Amazon]

He has won the following awards: Hawthornden Prize, 1963, for The Price of Glory; Yorkshire Post Book of the Year Prize and Wolfson Literary Award, both 1978, both for A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962; French Légion d’Honneur, 1993, for work on French history; Commander of the British Empire (CBE), 2003. [Goodreads]

If you would like to give it a try, you can find an excerpt, a passage of the book read by the author himself, and an interview of the author here.

7 thoughts on “I love France #3: September 1st

  1. I got this book before my trip to Paris this June but didn’t finish. It’s a very close treatise of history of Paris. I’m now about halfway through and am thoroughly enjoying the daily dish of it. I feel the author has done justice of the city, which seems a study in continuity or, at least, in survival. After all, Paris, out of most European cities, is the one that has survived 20th century destruction effectively. My favorite part so far is the fashion. It’s so much fun reading about this romantic city while summoning my own memories of the trip.


  2. Pingback: August 2011 Wrap Up « Words And Peace

  3. Only one year late! Was checking all your I Love France postings and came upon this one. I recommended anything by Alistair Horne for the Paris in July Challenge. I have all his books on French history.


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