Paris has been the center of so many literary works -Victor Hugo's "les Miserables" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame , the many novels of Balzac and Emile Zola ; Henri Miller's "Tropic of Cancer" and on and on. Here are two most evocative reads about Paris :
|Hemingway in front of Shakespeare &Co.|
Emile Zola "Ventre de Paris" (Belly of Paris) . This mid 19th century novel depicts the life and struggles of the working class in Paris around the busy central market of Les Halles . Zola was remarkably precise in detailling the sensations- smells, sound, colors of the market. This atmospheric neighborhood depicted by Zola is only a shadow of itself today. Gone are the central market Balthar pavillons and the workers and vendors that populated this very intense and picturesque neighborhood; they have been replaced by trendy boutiques and chic cafes. Other oeuvres of Zola featuring 19th century Paris include notably "Nana" "Au Bonheur des Dames" (Ladies' Paradise), "L'Assommoir" and "l'Oeuvre".
|Grand Hotel Plage-Cabourg|
Marcel Pagnol and Jean Giono are the quintessential authors from Provence. We hear the sunny and colorful accents of the south of France when we read the works of these two authors. Marcel Pagnol, evoked his early life growing up in around Marseille in two books: "Gloire de mon Pere" (my Father's Glory) and "Chateau de ma Mere" (My Mother's castle). In his other works Jean de Florette" and "Manon des Sources", Marcel Pagnol depicted the miserable and hard scrabble life of Provence countryside and its people, their superstitions and greed. Gionno, a native of Manosque described the countryside life of Haute Provence in his works such "the baker's wife" (adapted to the screen by Marcel Pagnol); the "Horseman on the Roof".
The more recent memoir, "A Year in Provence by English author Peter Mayle is set in Menerbes, a picturesque village in the Luberon hills where the author recounts through expatriate eyes his hilarious adventures with local customs when building a country home. The book and its sequels "Encore Provence" and "Toujours Provence" have brought on notoriety and many tourists to the little village and Provence in general.
If you want to channel the spirit of F. Scott Fitgerald, head to the French Riviera. In the early 1920's the american writer and his wife Zelda moved to a rented villa in Saint Raphael where he worked on the the Great Gatsby. They would often drive to nearby cap d'Antibes to meet friends for drinks and sunbathe on the beach. In 1926 , needing respite from the success of the Great Gatsby, F. Scott and Zelda retreated again to the peacefulness of the Riviera , this time renting the villa St. Louis in Antibes. It later became the art deco hotel Belles Rives, a much sought after 5 star Riviera retreat today. "Tender is the night' is a story of a wealthy American couple sojourning on the French Riviera and their tortuous relationship.
Happy reading and Happy travels !!
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