A Literary Tour of Paris | #BookBreak

A Literary Tour of Paris | #BookBreak

Welcome back to Book Break. We are off on an adventure today. It is far too early in the morning for this,
but we’re on the Eurostar! We’re going to Paris, and we’re off to see
all the literary sights this city has to offer. But first, coffee. So any book-lover who comes to Paris has to
start by visiting the iconic Shakespeare and Company. This amazing bookshop you probably recognise
from all of the instagrams that any of your friends who ever went to Paris took. It’s an English language bookshop, and it
was founded here in 1951. But it actually wasn’t the first bookshop
with the name Shakespeare and Company. That one was founded in 1919 by an American
named Sylvia Beach, and it was a gathering place for expats from Hemingway to James Joyce. But it had to close down during German occupation
of France in World War 2, and it was never able to reopen. So this bookshop changed its name in honour
of Sylvia Beach, and it officially took the name Shakespeare and Company, pretty perfectly,
on Shakespeare’s 400th birthday. So here we are in the Notre Dame Cathedral. Whether you’ve read The Hunchback of Notre
Dame, or just seen the Disney movie a million times, as we all have, it is just as amazing
to actually see this cathedral in real life. It is so huge and amazing. And Victor Hugo was actually inspired to write
this book because of his passion for the Gothic architecture here. When he saw that parts of the cathedral were
being replaced by more modern parts, he wrote this book all about his love for the original
architecture. So that explains why there are so many long
descriptive passages in this book. It was all to save the cathedral. And if you’re a fan of Victor Hugo, whether
Hunchback is your favourite, or if you prefer Les Mis, you must take a visit to the Victor
Hugo museum. This is set up in the apartments where he
used to live when he was in Paris. And parts of the rooms are decorated just
as it would have been when he lived there, and the rest is filled with amazing artwork
from the time period. Like this is Victor Hugo’s actual writing
desk. I can’t guarantee he wrote either of those
pieces of work here, but he might have! So all that sightseeing’s been thirsty work,
so we’re going to pop in now into Les Deux Magots for some coffee and cake. Now Les Deux Magots was first made famous
by super-famous guests Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. And Julia Child used to eat here, so that’s
a good sign that you know the food’s got to be good. So this completely majestic building behind
me is the Paris City Hall. And the square that is stands on might look
harmless now, but it actually has a really dark history. So during the Reign of Terror in the French
Revolution, this was called the Place de Greve, and it was actually the site for some particularly
cruel and gruesome public executions. I’m talking heads on spikes. So that’s what you can picture next time you
read The Scarlet Pimpernel And down here is Place de la Concorde, which
is where the slightly more humane guillotine was installed. And of course, famously, it’s where Marie
Antoinette was executed. And it’s all documented in A Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens. And this book is deeply critical of the French
aristocracy, and their abuse of power, but it’s also very critical of the Reign of Terror. So this the Place Colette, which is named
after the legendary French author Colette, probably best known as the author of Gigi. But she did first have success not under her
own name. She published four autobiographical novels
about a character called Claudine, which was originally published under her husband’s name. And apparently when she first told him that
she wanted the credit for her own work, he just locked her in her room and refused to
let her out until she produced more pages for him. And that’s what inspired the movie Colette
starring Keira Knightley. She did eventually get the credit for her
own work, as she should, so we have a book here that finally has her own name to the
complete Claudine book. And it was Colette’s daughter who suggested
that this square be named after her. And now for some lunch. Now it’s not always easy to find veggie food
in Paris, but we did find this delicious, and very high-tech (look at their menu!) veggie-vegan
pizza place. And if you can’t come to Paris without getting
the Phantom of the Opera theme tune stuck in your head, then you must come here to the
Paris Opera House. Which in the book is seemingly haunted by
the Phantom of the Opera, or the Angel of Music. And even on his death bed, Gaston Leroux allegedly
claimed that the Phantom of the Opera was actually real. Now this is a really cool place to visit because
this address was where Gertrude Stein lived with her partner Alice Toklas. And the two of them used to host the most
amazing Saturday night gatherings, with guests such as Matisse, Picasso, Hemingway, and F.Scott
Fitzgerald. Now that is a party I’d like to go to! This rather striking building behind me is
the Saint-Sulpice, which you may recognise from The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, and it’s
the sight of a rather important clue. We could not resist stopping at La Cure Gourmande,
which is home to the most delicious biscuits in the whole of Paris. Now a top tip for book-lovers, get yourself
a day pass to the American Library in Paris. It’s the largest English-language lending
library on the European continent, and even Ernest Hemingway was once a member. So Paris has obviously inspired a ton of classic
literature, but it’s not just a historical city. It’s still inspiring so much art and literature
today. And one of my favourite modern books set in
Paris is I Love You Too Much by Alicia Drake. Which is a really sad, melancholy story about
a boy living round here in the wealthy neighbourhood round the Jardin du Luxembourg, with these
rather neglectful parents, who are very self-absorbed. Until one day, he sees something that he wasn’t
supposed to see. And Alicia Drake has written about how she
was really inspired walking around this neighbourhood by the difference between the wealth that
you see round here, and also the sadness and the loneliness. And walking around this park now, I can really
see how it inspired her. It really does feel like just stepping into
the mood of her novel. So Paris is continuing to inspire people today,
but that’s quite enough sightseeing for one day. We’re in Paris! Let’s go for a drink. So we’re having our drinks here in Harry’s
New York Bar, which has been visited by just so many famous people. From Humphrey Bogart, who was here on his
honeymoon with Lauren Bacall, to Rita Hayworth, to Ian Fleming, who apparently learned the
stirred not shaken martini from Harry here at the bar. So Elle and I are going to finish the rest
of our drinks, and then head out for the rest of our night in Paris. But do hit that subscribe button below for
new videos every Thursday. And of course, hit that like button if you
liked this video, and comment below if you are now planning your own trip to Paris. See you next time!

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  1. Oh those bicuits at La Cure Gourmande look so delicius, and the look of the shop is fabulous – I would definitely be a regular visitor there if I lived in Paris.

  2. Lovely video, and there are a few more books I need to read and places I need to see – but who told you place de grève was in the Louvre? It is right in front of the Hotel de Ville, next to the river, so 1.7 km away from where you presented it

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