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The Other Paris

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  365 ratings  ·  70 reviews
A trip through Paris as it will never be again-dark and dank and poor and slapdash and truly bohemian

Paris, the City of Light, the city of fine dining and seductive couture and intellectual hauteur, was until fairly recently always accompanied by its shadow: the city of the poor, the outcast, the criminal, the eccentric, the willfully nonconforming. In The Other Paris, Luc
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 27th 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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3.95  · 
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 ·  365 ratings  ·  70 reviews

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Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Is it basic of me to say that I love Paris? Fuck it, I love Paris. And I especially love histories like this one, that look at other sides of the famous city, sides that maybe the French tourism board would prefer you not see.

The format of Sante’s book can be best described as “meandering.” He’s not presenting us with a straightforward, chronological history of the city of Paris (for one thing, that book would probably have to be a few thousand pages long). Instead, he tells us that he’s going
Dec 02, 2015 rated it did not like it
This is not a good book ~~ A gift fr those who know I love Paris. Many are impressed by publisher FSG and author. Don't be. The essay is a laundry list of names, titles, locations, brands with esoteric details here and there. There are too many blah photos, of postage stamp size, all repetitive, and you wonder Why? Blurb whores : the always dull Paul Auster calls it "finest book I've ever read about Paris" (what were the others?) and Hilton Als (yes, that one!) smooches, "an epic work." Revealed ...more
Mar 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Luc Sante's Other Paris is the Paris of the non-respectable - the working class, the homeless, prostitutes, criminals, artists, bohemians, entertainers, revolutionaries, immigrants, con men, and the flaneurs and urban explorers with the time and interest to describe it all. The facts and anecdotes strung together by Sante are interesting, and sometimes fascinating, but without an overarching story or thesis, it becomes "this happened, and then that happened." The author tries to pull it all toge ...more

Description: Paris, City of Light, the city of fine dining and seductive couture and intellectual hauteur, was until fairly recently always accompanied by its shadow - the city of the poor, the outcast, the criminal, the eccentric, the wilfully nonconforming.

In The Other Paris, Luc Sante gives us a panoramic view of that alternative metropolis, which has all but vanished but whose traces are in the bricks and stones of the contemporary city, in the culture
Dec 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, travel
The Other Paris

As a historian I love social history and cities as it means we can be surrounded with historic themes that mean we can dig down and get our teeth in to something meaty. In The Other Paris, Luc Sante has written what can be considered a wonderful essay illustrated by some wonderful pictures and illustrations. Here Sante looks at the rougher edges of Paris rather than the refined Paris that is often portrayed in books and on film.

This is a wonderfully rich book, well written and res
Oct 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-bought
Of all the cities in the world, Paris has a mythical hold on me. I don't know why? Los Angeles and Tokyo are my two other favorite cities, but somehow Paris has captured my imagination, and this book by Luc Sante, pretty much describes my imaginary Paris as a factual place. I have been there at least six times in my life, and yet, it never disappoints, just gives me a thrill whenever I'm confined in Paris. Sante's "The Other Paris" pretty much describes my fascination, as there is only my imagin ...more
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Brilliant history of the underground Paris, the city in the centuries before it got cleaned up, its streets straightened and widened by Haussmann, before it pushed its poor and problematic populations to the banlieues postwar and evolved into today's familiar capital of international tourism. This is a challenging read, each dense but accessible chapter focused on a topic, the writing sometimes thick with trivial anecdotes and lists, as well as references to numerous unfamiliar places, events an ...more
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, non-fic, adult, audio
No better book about the history of Paris has ever been written. Sante brings the same irresistible mix of vision, irreverence, rigor, wit, and passion to this book as he did to the inimitable LOW LIFE, about New York. It's a dense book and it took me even longer to finish because I was listening to it. I'd like to actually read it with my eyes now that I'm done. I was a French lit major in college and while I was reading the book, I constantly had the sense that my islands of knowledge were bei ...more
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france, paris
For years now, in the French guide book production there is a whole new branch: you will find dozens of titles that begin with "L'insolite ...", literally translated as "the unusual", focusing on the backside of things, behind the scenes, that what lies outside the traditional tourist highlights, often also with the undertone of "marginal" and even "spicy".
This book by Luc Sante Paris is something like that: no trodden paths, at least not the tourist paths, but an evocation of the lesser known a
Feb 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week:
Paris, City of Light, the city of fine dining and seductive couture and intellectual hauteur, was until fairly recently always accompanied by its shadow - the city of the poor, the outcast, the criminal, the eccentric, the wilfully nonconforming.

In The Other Paris, Luc Sante gives us a panoramic view of that alternative metropolis, which has all but vanished but whose traces are in the bricks and stones of the contemporary city, in the culture of France itself
Dec 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, urban, france
Hmmm. I have mixed feelings about Sante. He writes that he has no intention of glamorizing poverty but I think he does a bit. He includes some facts about how hard life used to be then he waxes on about how much cooler Paris was in the 19th century. He refers to prostitutes as the girls and points out that prostitution was part of the fabric of Paris. He laments the sterile gloss of contemporary Paris and the monotony of the suburbs, the places where workers went to when Paris got too expensive. ...more
Gaylord Dold
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sante, Luc. The Other Paris, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2015 (306pp. $28)

It is of no little interest that Paris contains some 3,195 streets, 330 passages (encompassing both arcades and alleys), 314 avenues, 2923 impasses, 189 villas (enclosed mansions, or house groupings like a mews), 142 cites (sometimes developed, sometimes a slum), 139 squares, 108 boulevards, 64 courts, 52 quays, 30 bridges, 27 ports, 22 galeries (arcades), 13 allees, 7 hameaux (quite literally, “hamlets”), 7 lanes
Lance Grabmiller
Slow to really get going. At first the text is hard to navigate without a map, but it slowly opens up by about a third of the way in as he begins to leave the city as geography and begins to depict its inhabitants. By two-thirds of the way in, it is almost impossible to put down. Covers Paris from about the middle of the eighteenth century until World War 2. Given the deep history of the city, it can occasionally make leaps hundreds of years before this and occasionally moves into the latter hal ...more
Lee Paris
Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
While reading this book I recalled a scene from the documentary "Le Joli Mai" (aka "The Jolly Month of May") in which Parisians from all ranks of society are interviewed about their lives, cares and dreams during the spring of 1962 when France was finally at peace post-Algeria. A newly re-housed poor family are clearly enjoying the panoramic view through the window of their high rise apartment block and looking down at the tiny people wandering below. This is in contrast with the quartier where ...more
Garrett Zecker
Feb 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
A collection of essays on the various aspects of the Parisian underbelly of society over the past two hundred and fifty years, Sante's book is an engaging and exploratory walk through the byways of underground society as it has existed and continues to exist in Franco culture. I learned about this book in a selection from my Delancey Place daily email, and was excited to check it out.

The book's essays are organized by underground movement – infrastructure, crime, prostitution, drugs, punishment
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: about-france
There seems to be a wide variation of opinion of this book by Goodreads readers. Either they really like it or really hate it. I am in the former camp..I found this book to be fascinating and an engrossing read. Sante explores the seemy underbelly of Paris from it's beginnings to modern times. The hustlers, the whores, the cons, the street singers and much more. He highlights the milieux that has been 'lost' or tossed aside in the gentrification of Paris. I am a devoted reader of arcane informat ...more
Aug 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Frenetic and enthralling account of a Paris that no longer exists. As Sante puts it, "People would rather live poor in Paris than live anywhere else." Sante takes us through the underbelly of a Paris whose people thrived and hustled, ebbed and flowed. It was the people and the neighborhoods no longer in existence that gave Paris that veneer of the magical. Still, it goes in detail when describing the debauchery, the starvation, the filth. Sante does not leave a stone unturned. The read transport ...more
Peter Landau
Nov 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Luc Sante has followed up LOW LIFE, his decadent tour of old New York City, with THE OTHER PARIS, a similarly themed look at the past of a great city. Unlike the first book, which debunked the adage of the “good old days” (they weren’t better, and often far worse), now he writes with a similar love for the rough edges smoothed out by modernity, but in a more revolutionary tone. His prose is not mere nostalgic reflection as much as a battle cry to stop the madness of progress which leaves much of ...more
Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a very interesting book. It tells of the Paris that isn't shiny, pretty, touristy - it's the history of the lower classes, of criminals, prostitutes, revolutionaries, vagrants, of the slums and so on and so forth.

I do feel that the book deserved - ironically - a shinier layout. All the illustrations are tiny and in black-and-white, and a book like this deserves more. The text itself is very dense, the chapters rambling on without pause, and it made for a fairly dry and slow read for me.
Kris McCracken
Feb 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
An entertaining little tour through the darker side of Parisian history. Sante clearly prefers the obscure, overlooked, discarded, hidden and marginalised.

I really enjoyed it, particularly the exploration between urban design and revolutionary uprisings. Highly recommended!
Dec 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Stories and topics of interest about the other side of Paris, the grittier side of the City of Light. Topics included prostitution, drugs and homosexuality.
May 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
very in depth reading
Bill Wallace
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Intensely enjoyable, this history of sub-society Paris reminds me a lot of Herbert Asbury's books on American cities. M. Sante provides brief, loosely but deftly connected histories of Paris' crime, insurgencies, prostitution, club life, and more in a beautifully written reverie for a city he feels has vanished under the hand of urban planning and the economic tides of the 20th Century. I know a little bit about the history of Paris but have never seen it presented in quite so entertaining a sty ...more
Amelia Kibbie
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was an exquisitely researched book with excellent accompanying images. I've been to Paris handful of times and found the stories of the "underbelly" interesting. I definitely learned a lot. Not being extremely familiar with the city, I did have trouble forming a solid frame of reference for locations. I wish more maps would have been included. Still, this is Sante with his excellent prose and twinkles of humor mixed in with brutal honesty.
May 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
i believe the author forgot that a book requires a theme, a purpose, or a message. this book about the older, seamier side of paris is a list of things, places, street names with little or no narrative to connect them. we all know that every big city has the non-tourist side. we also know that we can read about these other, less famous, places in a number of places. this isnot the place to read abot the underbelly of paris.
After the first chapter, I thought that maybe it would get better. I was sorely mistaken and contrary to my usual nature, I stopped reading it after the second chapter.
There didn’t seem to be any theme, purpose, or message. It was just an incessant, nostalgic enumeration of people, events, locations, things, and street names with little or no narrative to connect them. Reading a history book would have been much more enjoyable.
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Based on other reviews it seems your opinion of this book is largely dependent on Sante’s style which I happen to like very much. I can’t account for the complaints about its enumerations. It’s more or less historical flaneurism, a cataloging of the sordid, forgotten, and untoward through witnesses long-dead. I enjoyed it enormously.
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Some interesting tidbits but the writing was dry to me and it was very easy for me to put down
Steve Blackburn
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Subtitled 'An Illustrated Journey Through a City's Poor and Bohemian Past'. Precisely that and a fabulous read.
William DuFour
Nov 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
I thought this would be a good companion book to Low Life but from the Parisian angle. Essentially the same layout as LL but with the French angle.
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Luc Sante was born in Verviers Belgium and emigrated to the United States in the early 1960s. Since 1984, he has been a teacher and writer, and frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books. His publications include Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York, The Factory of Facts and Folk Photography. He currently teaches creative writing and the history of photography at Bard College in Ne ...more