Because certain lines have a whole different meaning when read in the right place, The View Hunters have combed every inch of Paris and a handful of London with a book in hand. They found the best spots to read or re-read the classics, before the very same views that inspired the authors. Be prepared for chapters that fly by when read in the right context.
Sign up here and win a year's novels, selected by View Hunters.Participate
In the secret gardens of France, the one where Victor Hugo lived remains one of the most secluded, embedded between the Hôtel de Sully and the place des Vosges. Finely trimmed hedges, stone benches and ivy-coated walls... it had (and still has) all the criteria of a classic French garden. Intimate and rarely visited, there is always a neglected nook perfect for reading a little poetry. Like Hugo's collection of poems, The Legend of the Ages.
The Legend of the Ages by Victor Hugo, to be read in the garden of Hôtel de Sully. Accessible via la place des Vosges or rue de Rivoli
Begin in Boucicaut square and head towards exit near the mouths of the metro. There, a small ray of sunshine is falling with gusto and determination. It's destination? A little green bench, waiting just for you. Sit down and look around. In front of you is the Bon Marché, the legendary Parisian department store from the end of the 19th century. Emile Zola made it the playground of his characters Octave Mouret and Denise Baudu... but we'll let you (re)discover the rest of the story. The bench is yours.
The Ladies' Paradise by Emile Zola, to be read in Boucicaut square.
11 rue Babylone, 75007 Paris
Six friends find themselves at Gatwick airport, ready to go on holiday. One small problem: one of them lost her passport and the girls find themselves stuck in the terminal. It's a book to be savoured while waiting for your connecting flight at the Hyatt Regency-Paris-Charles de Gaulle, between a swim at the pool and a cooking class with the head chef. Because the airport is part of the holiday.
Stars in the Bright Sky by Alan Warner, to be read at the Hyatt Regency-Paris Charles de Gaulle.
351 Avenue du Bois de la Pie, 95912 Roissy-en-France
Grab a chair between the regulars on the patio of Café de la Mairie at place Saint-Sulpice, and open the book that's been waiting for you for a very long time. Muriel Barbery's characters will begin to take over the building two steps away, at 7 rue de Grenelle. It's a story about neighbourliness, about a concierge, a little girl and a rich Japanese businessman whose destinies intertwine.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, to be read on the patio of Café de la Mairie.
8 Place Saint-Sulpice, 75006 Paris
Frédéric, the hero of Flaubert's novel, rents a room on rue Trocnchet in order to find Madame Arnoux, the woman he loves. Unfortunately, she is indisposed and never shows up. Frédéric finds himself in the middle of a student demonstration, looses himself in the crowd to forget his anguish only to find a new infatuation. Two steps away from this street rife with emotion, you can tranquilly enjoy tea time at the Chinoiserie at the Hyatt Paris Madeleine Hotel. Under the glass ceiling, revel in Flaubertian prose and sweet delights by La Pâtisserie des Rêves.
Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert, to be read at the Hyatt Paris Madeleine.
24 Boulevard Malesherbes, 75008 Paris
Nowhere illustrates the splendour, magic and mystery of Paris quite like the Garnier Opera. Its magnificent architecture and labyrinth-like interior sparked the imagination of opera critic Gaston Leroux, who used rumours of strange disappearances and underground lagoons lurking in the opera's depths for his famous novel. Soak in his story under the stone arches of the opera's restaurant before taking a tour of the Palais Garnier. You'll find that the phantom of the opera is there, inside your mind...
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux, to be read at the Opera Garnier restaurant.
1 place Jacques Rouché 7009 Paris
Jean Cocteau lived at 36 rue Montpensier (just below the Muscade teahouse), his immense lodgings towering over the courtyard and its magnificent paths at Palais-Royal. Children of the Game was set in a Parisian apartment where a bother and sister lived a reclusive life, giving rise to their imaginative world of fantasy, possession and cruelty. Find a comfortable spot in front of the windows near the big pool. Just don't look at your reflection for too long... Cocteau was fascinated by mythology, so Narcissus might not be far away.
Children of the Game by Jean Cocteau, to be read in the gardens of Palais Royal.
There is only one way to grasp philosophy's most famous concept, existentialism: total immersion. This bar was Sartre's HQ when the Montparnasse neighbourhood shined like a thousand suns. Today the area is a bit less chaotic, but the bar is still a beacon in the night of the 14th arrondissement. So park yourself close to the statue of Jean Paul, order a cocktail with a name straight out of the movie Casablanca and try solving the meaning of life after a Singapore Sling.
Existentialism and Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre, to be read at Rosebud.
11 B Rue Delambre, 75014 Paris
Choose a floor—cosy, not flashy. Go during off-peak hours like mid-morning or late afternoon. Plant yourself next to a window. Order a lemonade. After having read a few pages of Simon de Beauvoir's autobiography, take a stroll in the Jardin de Luxembourg nearby. Why? Because that's exactly what the philosopher did the first time she opened the door to this establishment at the end of the 1920s. “After drinking a lemonade at Café de Flore, which was just a little local café, we walked around the Luxembourg gardens.” Written in ink, we swear.
Mémoires d'une jeune fille rangée de Simone de Beauvoir, à lire au Café de Flore.
172 boulevard saint germain, 75006 Paris
With the teeming, colourful streets of Brick Lane in the background, Monica Ali submerges us in the life of a Bangladeshi immigrant. It's a story of culture shock that explores the idea of freedom from every angle, juxtaposing tradition and new hope. A touch of humour and a splash of emotion, this book should be savoured in the comfy couches of 1901, the bar and restaurant of the Andaz Hotel. A spicy British bestseller.
Brick Lane by Monica Ali, to be read at 1901, the restaurant of the Andaz Liverpool Street.
40 Liverpool Street, London, EC2M 7QN
Did you enjoy this selection ? Try to win a year's novels, selected by View Hunters.Participate