Historical Dictionary of Paris
Alfred Fierro - Hardcover 1998
This is the English translation of one of my oft-used Parisian history bibles, "Paris, Histoire et Dictionnaire". Most every personnage, street or locale of any importance in Parisian history is present within this book. Photos, maps, and chronology. Pure history, but amusing in places. The authour is the curator of the Bibliotheque Historique de la Ville de Paris, where I've done much of my research over the years.
The Seven Ages of Paris
Alistair Horne - Hardcover, 2002
For those of you new to French history this is an interesting read. Its well-written prose gives the reader a "light" approach to Paris' past, that is to say the history is secondary to (and applied to) the theme set by the book's title.
Paris: The Biography of a City
Colin Jones - Hardcover 2005
This book is a more "in-depth" work on Paris' history, written by someone who obviously loves the city. Although very researched and complete in its descriptions, the attention paid to detail is not always consistant throughoutht the book - it pays particular attention to the 100-years war (a plus actually because it is a period often lacking in detail in many French works), and gives an unbiased view of the role of religion in Paris' development. This would have been an almost institutional work would it not be for the rather commercial - although sometimes informative - 'box snippets' breaking up the layout. Still, this is one of the best up-to date (post 1980's archeological discoveries) French history readings the English language has to offer.
The Trial of the Templars
Malcolm Barber - Paperback, 1993 (reissue)
I suggest this book here because of the many hits this site gets by people looking for something about Jacques de Molay or the Templars. The order resided in Paris from 1140, and met their tragic end at the westernmost tip of its Cité island. This book is a bit more than a historic recital, as the only thing dry about it is its humour. This isn't to say that it is not a serious work; au contraire, it notated exerpts and bibliography make it worthy of even institutional use. In fact, were more textbooks written like this one, school would have been a lot more fun.
Planning Paris Before Haussmann
Nicholas Papayanis - Hardcover, 2004
A detailed book explaining the whys and the hows that led to the tranformations Haussmann brought to Paris, and how this in turn affected urban planning in the rest of Europe. It concerns the evolution of schools of thought in urban planning from the late 18th-century practical reorganisation to mid-19th century Saint-Simonian utopia. Enlightening if one wishes to understand Paris as it is today.
Haussmann, His Life and Times,
and the Making of Modern Paris
Michel Carmona - Hardcover, 2002
Translated from a work destined for a French audience, the authour has managed to write a descriptive and unbiased essay on the life of the prefet Georges Eugene Haussmann who so changed the face of Paris.
Paris Then and Now
Peter and Oriel Caine - Hardcover, 2003
Though with a fairly descriptive texts, this is a photo book. Based on a selection of 19th-century archival images, the authors have re-captured the same scene today in accompanying the comparitive spread with a description of changes wrought in the period between when the photos were taken. There are many of this kind published today but this is one of the better I've seen.
Peter Turnley - Hardcover, 2000
This is the Paris I love. Photography by Peter Turnley (known best for his Newsweek work) and forword by two of France's most reknowned photographers, Robert Doisneau and Edouard Boubat. Beautiful.
Birgitte Ollier/Robert Doisneau - Paperback, 1996
Parisian everyday scenes embellished by one of its most reknown photographers. Cover aside, this is one of the most "reussit" collections of Parisian nostalgia I have seen to date.
A Propos de Paris
Henri-Cartier Bresson - Paperback, 1998
One of my favourite photographers, my favourite city. A must have for all Paris affectionados.
Horst Hamann - Hardcover, 2004
This is a rather fun book found in many Bookstores here. Also existing in the same series: New York Vertical.
Larry Yust, Carlo Tinoco - Boxed Hardcover, 2005
Perhaps the most beautiful modern books I have seen on the Parisian Metro - very large book opens to show the more picturesque metro stations end to end. If you want a book to impress this is it.
Paris, City of Art
Jean-Marie Perouse De Montclos - Hardcover, 2003
A 700-page very large publication with over 800 photos and texts explaining (with accompanying photos) the development of Paris' architecture through the ages.
The Historic Restaurants of Paris
Ellen Williams - Hardcover, 2001
This wee booklet contains many of Paris' more memorable dining spots still running today. Every restaurant mentioned has photos and two pages of history and antecdotes on all that made the place famous. A great conversation piece should you be going to (or inviting guests to) one of the restaurants it contains.
Jean Favier - Softcover, 1997 (1007 pages)
One of the most comprehensive and exhaustively researched books on Paris' history I have ever read. Low on illustrations but high on content, this book is better destined for the already-initiated.
Les Enceintes de Paris
Action artistique de la Ville de Paris - Softcover, 2001
A collection of very informative articles on Paris' successive walls and boundries. Through their individual treatment, one gets a clear impression of the political situation and/or mindset of the era that led to the construction of each. The many illustrations and photos from all eras make understaning Paris' expansion all the more understandable.
Le Dictionnaire Historique des Rues de Paris
Jacques Hillaret, - Hardcover, two volumes, 1985
One of the best street-by-street references about Paris available. Based on much earlier works of a similar name, Hillaret manages to filter legend and recent archeological discoveries together into a conclusive and comprehensive reference indespensable for all in-depth research on Paris.
Du Châtelet à Beaubourg (15 siècles d’histoire)
Action Artistique de la Ville de Paris - Hardcover, 2005
A collection of articles covering the genesis of the Paris quarter that is its centre today. Dwells namely on everything around Paris' Grand Chatelet from the early 5th to 20th century.
Paris, Histoire et Dictionnaire
Alfred Fierro - Softcover, 1999
This is the same book as shown above (Historical Dictionary of Paris) but in its original French version.
Emile Gerards, - Softcover, 1908
This book, written over a century ago, is still actual today. It concerns everything concerning Paris' underground, from its geological formation to the digging of its underground Metro railway system. Texts with engravings and photos. Yet another of my Parisian bibles.
Les Promenades de Paris
Jean-Charles Adolphe Alphand - Hardcover, 1867-1873
I am in love with this book. Although it concerns only a small portion of Paris' history, it represents perhaps a pinnacle in its architectural innovation (Saint-Simonianism) and technical artistic representation (colourised architectural engravings) that was its mid-19th century. This quite large in-folio book is a lifetime keepsake and hard to find today.