When I lived in the UK, I was lucky enough to work on a project that took me to Paris about once a month. I had to work for about 12 hours on Sundays, but with the flights from Cardiff what they were, I had to leave Friday afternoon or Saturday morning. Tough, I know...
But I was able to get to know the city and since I stayed in the same hotel most of the time, I learned the area of the Left Bank where I was, quite well. I have been collecting little books on Paris and France since I found a sweet little one on my first trip to Paris many years ago.
Today, at the Book Thing, I found the perfect book to celebrate Fête Nationale, Bastille Day or Quatorze Juillet. It's called "France - Paris and the Provinces". It was published in 1948, and has a note saying that only 70 copies were printed on pure linen paper and that they were not for sale. It was printed by Societe Ode, which, as far as I can tell is a textile manufacturer.
In the Introduction, the last paragraph says: Here is both a picture book and a picturesque book. Here you can wander at leisure amidst old prints and local costumes, and examine the coloured film of modern life, as well as maps as finicky and engaging as the fanciful planispheres of the first seafarers.
This book is filled with engaging watercolour paintings as well as 18th century etchings and maps. While more than half of the 450+ pages are about Paris, each of the provinces is also represented. The chapters discuss both the geography and gastronomy of the regions and that should make this book lots of fun to browse through.
Vive la France!