Originally published in 1959, Miroslav Sasek’s This is Paris is a leisurely tour through the city’s avenues that stops to take in landmarks, caress street cats and say bonjours to a café garcon, apartment concierge, street painter, policeman, flower girl, and the Mona Lisa. It is non-fiction presented on the sugared spoon of a cartoon with French vocabulary and history intertwined painlessly into the simple text.
The tour makes a stop in tranquil Luxembourg Garden where toy boats glide across the reflecting pond.
It paints a picture of Paris presenting the sights and sounds of its rues: letter boxes and spindly street lamps, modes of transportation from bus to metro, and various markets from Seine-side bookstalls, to the bustle of les Halles, to the colorful Sunday bird market.
The charm of Paris is intertwined with that of the 50’s: curvy automobiles and kitsch meet eternal architecture, berets, reflections like puzzle pieces on the Seine river, grey skies and leafless winter trees. Undoubtedly some things have changed in the 50 years passed since the book was written. They are denoted with a star and comparison is made between then and now on the last page.
The Sacré Coeur sits atop Montmartre. Climb the steps for a perfect view of Paris.
This is Paris playfully captures the romance of the city. It is an equally pleasurable read for child or adult with concise text and nostalgic illustrations. In the end you are encouraged to visit. “And now it’s your turn to see Paris with your own (a picture of two blue) eyes.”