Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris by Graham Robb - review by Gillian Tindall

Gillian Tindall

In The Catacombs

Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris


Picador 462pp £18.99

Three years ago, in a prize-winning book with the deceptively anodyne title The Discovery of France, Graham Robb took on the whole of France and effectively showed the extent to which ancient French tribal customs and regional convictions underlie the modern Republic created by Napoleon. Now, taking shelter beneath an equally unrevealing title and wishy-washy jacket, he tackles the capital. Do not be fooled: this is not really an invitation to hardy tourists to wander Paris book in hand, for the adventures are essentially Robb’s own excursions into highly eclectic regions of history.

Sometimes, as with his retrieval of the young Lieutenant Bonaparte’s first prostitute, or the way Marie Antoinette nearly missed the fatal coach ride to Varennes because she got lost as soon as she was outside the Tuileries’ gate, he explores some little-known aspect of the life of a

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