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- Publié sur Amazon.com
This guide to the architecture of (mostly) Paris covers nearly two thousand years, from the Roman period to the present day, even including a chapter on "current tendencies". The book is divided into chapters by period, with each chapter opening with a 1-2 page introduction and then a chronological listing of buildings, each with a current color photo, address, dates of construction, architects, a brief description, and statement of significance. In addition, there are longer profiles of major buildings (e.g. Eiffel Tower) and architects (e.g., Haussmann) and appendices with recommended museums, places to eat, detailed lists of buildings for dense areas (e.g., La Defense). The emphasis is on the City of Paris, but it also includes some sites out of town, such as the Palace of Versailles and the Villa Savoye. Buildings (called "objects" in this guide") are indexed by title, by arrondissement, by street, and by architect. The guide includes a wide variety of architecture, including houses, churches, monuments, fountains, schools, civic buildings, museums, bridges, parks, and apartments--it's a good broad introduction to the wide variety of architectural design in the City of Paris.
But there are some annoying drawbacks:
1. It can be easily carried with you when you're walking the streets of Paris--except it contains no maps. That's a major stumbling block if you're in a neighborhood and want to know what's around you and worth seeing. So frustrating when a map is featured on the book's cover, so you expect to find many of them in the guide (sorry, just the Palace of Versailles).
2. Building titles are inconsistent. Sometimes that's due to the translation from French or German to English, so a good editor would have caught this to ensure consistency so buildings can be easily and quickly identified. For example, it's called the "Pompidou Center" in the text but the "Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou" in the index. If you don't happen to know the French name, you won't be able to find it by looking under P in the index.
3. Basic information on featured buildings is missing. For example, the Pompidou Center receives a full-page profile, but doesn't include the address, names of the architects, or dates of construction. My sense is that this information was dropped by the graphic designer because they consistently exist as subheadings for the shorter entries.
4. Positioning of photographs is inconsistent, so you're not always sure which building is depicted. Sometimes the image is above the title, below the title, or on the opposite page, and since they're not captioned, it takes some figuring (sometimes by process of elimination) to determine which neo-classical building is which among the postage-stamp size photos.
Nevertheless, if you're seeking a quick broad overview of Parisian architecture for the last two thousand years, this is a helpful guide (let's just hope the second edition is in the hands of a better editor).