Quiet Paris (Giveaway!)

Quiet ParisAs if in answer to my pleas, the sun finally appeared in Paris this week. Starting Sunday, spring burst forth fully formed. The city sighed collective relief.

The long walks I alluded to last post obviously bring even more joy now.

In a bout of perfect timing, I also received a new guidebook that champions the wandering approach. The introduction to Siobhan Wall’s Quiet Paris has her musing: “walking around, I wondered whether we are now less familiar with losing our way and coming across places by benign accident rather than preordained design.”

Wall seeks the calmer side to cities, you see, places off the beaten track. Previously she has produced Quiet London and Quiet Amsterdam. But is it really possible to escape the hustle and bustle in Paris, the world’s most popular tourist destination?

I always approach anything promising a “secret” City of Light with a slice of skepticism. Luckily, this sweet little pocket guide soon swiped away any hesitation. It delivers.

While some old standbys certainly appear (the elevated leafy walkway known as the Promenade Plantee was packed this weekend, for instance; ditto, I imagine, Parc Buttes Chaumont), plenty of entries were new to me (the Musee Bourdelle in the fifteenth? The Bibliotheque Marguerite Durand devoted to French women and feminism?)

Author Siobhan Wall

Author Siobhan Wall

After the elegant intro, the guide is divided into 12 sections: museums, libraries, parks & gardens, places to relax, places to worship, shops, restaurants, cafes, bookshops, galleries, cultural centers, and places to stay. At the end is a handy index of places by arrondissement. There are more than 120 listings in all.

Each entry is composed of a tempting photograph, a few lines of practical information, and a one-paragraph description. A simple formula, but one that works.

Suddenly I’m wondering whether to check out silent meeting at the Centre Quaker International (I attended a Quaker college) or try out the Wednesday night mediation at the Buddhist Centre Kalachakra. I will of course visit all the parks & hidden squares. A friend actually pointed me to a lovely one in the Marais this weekend that I had never seen before and asked that I not share the secret too widely. I found it in the book.

Wall is a writer and artist who has lectured on photography, cultural studies, and fine art, so she’s particularly good on those fronts. The book offers addresses for tea shops to boutiques, reading rooms to flowery gardens. It’s nice to be reminded of so many possibilities. And to discover new ones.

Now to slow down and enjoy them.

Solo time by the Seine.

Solo time by the Seine.

WIN A FREE COPY OF QUIET PARIS! Just leave a comment by Sunday April 21, 4 PM EST, to be entered in the random drawing. Why not tell me your favorite quiet place in Paris? Or let me know what kinds of things you’d like to see me explore on the blog. (Will you send me on a quest to find all the squares?) Of course, you can simply say you want a copy of the book.

The publisher has also set up a discount offer for my readers in the UK. To order Quiet Paris at the special offer price of £10.00 including free UK postage and packaging (RRP: £12.99), please call Bookpoint on 01235 400 400 and quote the code 46PARIS.

American readers can find the book here.

And those in France here.

Good luck!

Taking it all in at the Tuileries.

Taking it all in at the Tuileries.

(Last two images are my own from a stroll today, not connected to the book. But I thought they fit!)

UPDATE! Congratulations to Nina for winning a free copy of Quiet Paris! Thanks to all who entered for your great comments!

55 Responses to “Quiet Paris (Giveaway!)”

  1. 1 Linda Brown April 17, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    As an armchair traveler, I would truly love to have a copy of “Quiet Paris” 🙂


  2. 3 Joan von Ohlen April 17, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    I’d love a copy of the book! What a wonderful idea! One of my favorite ‘quiet’ places (which isn’t always quiet when kids are playing soccer) is les arènes de Lutèce in the 5th.


  3. 5 Mira April 17, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    My favorite quite place is the small park behind Notre Dame. I would love to win a copy of the book to enjoy other discoveries.


  4. 7 Susan Carter April 17, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    Sounds like a great book as Quiet Places are always welcomed. One of my favorites is still the Tuilleries; where, although often busy, it can be a quiet serene place to spend a few hours.


  5. 9 Lil April 17, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    If I arrive early at Gare Montparnase, I head up to the rooftop where Jardin Atlantique is. I’ve never seen it too busy, with exception one evening when someone thought it’d be great to have a milonga up there. Free entertainment!


  6. 11 Karene April 17, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    Paris is at the top of my “bucket list,” so a copy of this book would be perfect. I’d love to hear about your discoveries of the hidden gardens and parks that are new even to you.


  7. 13 jerome michaelson April 17, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    i also love the Tuilleries or some lovely spot along the Seine…–and I know that I would enjoy finding about all of Siobhan’s spots.


  8. 14 Lynn April 17, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    I always try to discover hidden (or new-to-me) places when I have the fortune to visit Paris. Last time I happened upon the Jardin Catherine Laboure on rue de Babylone – an unassuming but charming oasis. Would love to read this book – please enter me in the drawing!


  9. 16 Nina Lorch April 17, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    It’s hard to choose, but I’d have to nominate the Parc Floral in the Bois de Vincennes. If a band is not playing nearby.


  10. 18 Karin B April 17, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    What a lovely idea for a book about Paris. And I have always loved the name “Siobhan,” too. Just sayin’. For the heck of it. 😉

    My favorite quiet spot? Well, you mentioned it already: the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. But Père Lachaise, another fave of yours, too, is also a great quiet place to meander in quiet. The Eglise St Julien le Pauvre is another one for me. Not as close to my former home, but whenever I went in there, I appreciated the silent peacefulness there.

    I would LOVE it if you would pick one place from each of the 12 sections, go there, and write about it! I think that would be a great blog assignment — or several blog assignments. Cool!!

    And it goes without saying I would love to win the book. Here’s to Lady Luck being on my side. I don’t have any of my Paris books with me as they are all left behind in… Paris, lol. Oh the ironies of life. Alas, thank goodness for the Internet is all I have to say about that! 🙂

    Hugs from Denver, Sion.


    • 19 Karin B April 17, 2013 at 10:54 pm

      P.S. “several blog assignments”

      Could be one for each month of the next 12, yanno. Not a bad plan for some instant blog topics for a year!


      • 20 paris (im)perfect April 17, 2013 at 11:06 pm

        Yep, she mentioned Eglise St Julien le Pauvre (which I have to admit I have not gone in). Between the book and all these great suggestions, I’m starting to feel like I really haven’t explored at all! Good motivation. And good idea for the blog assignments. Lord knows sometimes I need a push!


      • 21 Karin B April 17, 2013 at 11:20 pm

        “I’m starting to feel like I really haven’t explored at all!”

        Yeah, but that is one of the coolest things about Paris! There will always be something to explore and get to know! It’s seemingly an endless city when it comes to exploration, I think, and unlike any other city to which I have been before in this respect. I imagine London is similar, maybe Rome, too (and obviously Amsterdam, since that is another one of the books by the author!). But I have only ever really gotten to explore Paris…

        It is good motivation. And oh do I know what you mean about the push, lol. (I have an excuse today, though. It is snowing, for the second time this week! Not as much of a blizzard. But still like wintertime outside. I just want to stay indoors as much as possible.)


  11. 22 indigo April 17, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    What a fabulous little book! While I’m quite far away, just this morning I was “traveling” through Paris via google satelite maps, strolling around Parc de Monceau in the 8th (or perhaps it’s the 17th?). It looks quite nice there! I have no idea if it’s full of people right now with spring finally arriving, but the google pics didn’t have that many. :o)


  12. 24 Jeanine April 17, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    I too visit Paris only in my dreams(since the age of 10) I would love to get a copy of this book for when I finally go one day.


  13. 26 Bonnie L April 17, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    What a fabulous book! My favorite trips to Paris have been when we had no agenda, when we didn’t feel the need to hit all the typical tourist sights.

    If you find yourself at Sacre Coeur and you need a break from the hordes!, go around to the back of the cathedrale and there is a lovely little park that is like an oasis. There is a pergola covered with wisteria, water features, plenty of benches, and shade.

    I have never seen it “busy”. Great place to replenish the soul and find the fortitude to take on Place du Tertre!


    • 27 paris (im)perfect April 18, 2013 at 10:41 am

      Great tip, Bonnie. The author mentions this park, too. Isn’t it funny how just a few steps away from a major site you can find an oasis? That’s what happened to me this Sunday in the Marais, too. The streets of the area are closed off on Sundays so there are no cars. It’s nice, but everyone comes out and the streets are quite crowded. Just around the corner from one of the major thoroughfares was a quiet square that no one seemed to know about!


  14. 28 Liene April 18, 2013 at 2:21 am

    The only places I managed to visit while in Paris were not very quiet at all… except for the stairs up the Eiffel tower, those we had completely to ourselves on a January evening!

    I would love to read about the squares and parks, the concept of secret gardens has always been very appealing to me.


  15. 30 Suzanne Hurst April 18, 2013 at 2:38 am

    My favorite quiet place in Paris is the Place des Vosges. I could sit for hours on a bench in the square or at a quiet table at one of the cafes. I’d love to be able to spend a whole day like that, while rereading some Hugo, maybe my favorite excerpts from “Les Miserables.” I could sip some wine and commune with one of my favorite authors, who lived in one of my favorite historic periods.


    • 31 paris (im)perfect April 18, 2013 at 10:45 am

      Place des Vosges is lovely! Though on sunny days like we’re having now, I’ve never found it to be that quiet – everyone has the same idea to go there 🙂

      Reading and sitting in a square or in a cafe sounds like a great day to me, too. And there’s also the Victor Hugo house right off the Place des Vosges. Unless there’s a school group there, it can be a rather quiet place, too!


  16. 32 Jennifer April 18, 2013 at 3:19 am

    My favorite quiet spot in Paris is Monmarte right before mass. Bewitching.


  17. 34 Lisa April 18, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    I love the quiet of walking home at night in Paris.


  18. 36 Jan Janzen April 18, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    I would love to have a copy of that book! My husband and I have been exploring Paris bit by bit when we visit our daughter who lives an hour south. In fact, we will be there in a little over a week! It will be my 4th visit, and I still have so much to see!


  19. 38 Susanne April 18, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    My favorite quiet place in Paris is the Parc Montsouris in the morning. It’s only a one-minute-walk from my apartment.


  20. 40 Linda D. April 18, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Just one place? And a quiet one? That’s tough. Most of the time, I love just walking the streets of Paris, searching for new discoveries. I tend to avoid crowds, preferring museums on ‘park’ days and outdoor garden spaces off season. You can always find me walking along or ferrying on the Seine. The one place I brave crowds without fail is the Bagatelle Gardens when the roses are in bloom. The fragrance of roses always brings me right back to a perfect afternoon I spent there years ago.

    I’d love to win the book and discover some new corners! Thanks for sponsoring, Sion!


    • 41 paris (im)perfect April 18, 2013 at 8:25 pm

      Thanks, Linda! Sounds like you have a great strategy for avoiding crowds. Though I myself cannot turn away from the sun when it finally appears here; I would be hard pressed to visit a museum on a sunny day! I like visiting museums at night – also surprisingly less crowded then, too!


  21. 42 Patty April 18, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    I love wandering the Luxembourg Gardens on a weekday (during a vacation visit) when there aren’t as many people or other tourists in the park. Its usually the first place I go when I get into Paris before my hotel room is ready. Its a quiet place to acclimate and soak up Paris! I’d love to read this book and find some more places to wander…


  22. 44 Leslie Duffy April 19, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    Two lovely photos of springtime in Paris!


  23. 46 Amy Kortuem April 19, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    This sounds like a gorgeous book – and I love your photos!

    I remember a half an hour I spent on a certain bench a little ways off Rue St. Germain, facing a church. I was eating mirabelle plums and crying from the sheer beauty of them. Sometimes, when things are just too much to take in this life here, I escape to the memory of that bench, those church bells, those intense little plums.


  24. 48 christine haynes April 20, 2013 at 6:45 am

    yes! I’m off to Paris in a month and would love to learn of some new things! I’ve actually been to the Musee Bourdelle! It is quiet and delightful 🙂


  25. 51 Hillary Heydle April 20, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    would so love to win a copy of this book. would love another trip to Paris to explore all the quieter spots I missed the first time.


  26. 53 XpatScot April 21, 2013 at 4:05 am

    Last year, I returned to Paris after an absence of 28 years. Twenty-eight years of dreaming and yearning to return. I had expected to find change. But the Paris I found, with the exception of a pyramid in the forecourt of The Louvre, was much the same as I remembered it. Yes, there were the locks on the Pont des Arts that weren’t there before. And sadly, there was no George Whitman pottering around the jumbled tables of Shakespeare and Co this time. But the streets I knew were all still there. The little theatre on the rue de la Huchette was still putting on performances of the same Ionesco plays.The familiarity of it all came flooding back, washing over me like a warm wave. It seemed incredible that, after all these years, Paris was still Paris; and despite all the lives lived there and stories told there in those intervening years, the essence and the ethos remained the same. But slowly, as I wandered moist-eyed through those familiar streets, I realised that Paris wasn’t really the same after all. The city itself had remained relatively constant; but it was I who had changed. It was still the Paris of my youth; but it was I who was no longer young.


  1. 1 Parc Floral de Paris | paris (im)perfect Trackback on April 30, 2013 at 11:29 pm

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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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