Archive for the ‘History’ Category

From its doorknobs to its house numbers, Paris is rich in architectural details. But it was the city’s iconic pavers that led me on my most recent historical adventure. In some streets the pavers are still arranged in beautiful fan-like patterns. The rue de l’Abreuvoir offers a nice view of the Sacré Coeur in Montmartre, […]


The Cour du Commerce Saint-André in Paris’ sixth arrondissement is little more than a cobbled alley. Open only to pedestrians, it connects the tony and traffic-choked Boulevard Saint-Germain with the bustling little rue de Buci. But when you step onto its uneven paving stones, you’re stepping onto a spot where centuries of history converge. (Full […]


One of my favorite things about Paris is that everything is somehow connected. Over the next week I’ll show you seven photos that at first glance may seem unrelated — and next Sunday I’ll reveal what they share in common. The Place du Trocadéro offers a great view of the Eiffel Tower, but it had […]


Today is Memorial Day in the U.S. — a day to remember and honor those we’ve lost to the senseless tragedy that is war. Here’s one story, about a distant relative, I first published in 2014. May Doug and his sacrifice never be forgotten. On September 27 1942, Douglas Albert Munro sacrificed his life in […]


My only personal connection to Prince Rogers Nelson is that I once saw him walking across the street. is presence belied his tiny stature, and I thought him one of the most elegant, regal, and — yes — beautiful men I’d ever seen. He made such an impression in that fleeting moment, in fact, that […]


Remember that day I walked 25.9 miles (41km)? Here’s one-third of the story. I first heard of the Petite Ceinture a couple of years ago through MessyNessy Chic, where one photo in particular captured my imagination. Could this really exist in the heart of Paris? Photo via MessyNessy Chic During my next trip I vowed […]


This post is dedicated to my friend Gilles Thomas, for his tireless devotion to preserving the work — and honoring the memory — of Charles-Axel Guillaumot. Suppose you’ve been hired to oversee a vast and vital railroad network. Now imagine that, on the very first day of your new job, one of the trains on […]


“Have you read How Paris Became Paris?” my new blog-friend Nomad Woman asked recently. I had indeed — and I loved Joan DeJean’s approach of (re)telling the city’s history through architectural and technological innovations. I especially appreciated DeJean’s characterization of Henry IV (1554 – 1610) as a visionary. I had never before regarded his urban […]


I’m always happy to offer Paris travel tips (check out a first-timer’s guide to Paris, a walking/photography tour, and my list of 10 small museums.) But I was truly intrigued when a blogfriend asked me recently about sightseeing in Roman Paris. Here are my top picks — and a quick history lesson to give them […]


April is National Poetry Month.* I was going to leave this fact unacknowledged, because — though it’s heresy to admit it — I don’t like most poetry. Poetry can be sumptuous and evocative. But too many writers use poetry as a literary Cuisinart, as an excuse to dice up thoughts and mix metaphors. Some poets […]