You already know we at Idlewild love to read and to travel. Today we are starting a new series for the blog where we match rooms to stay in with perfect books to read in them. First, we make your Paris literary fantasies come true with selections of books to go with fabulous AirBnB listings in the city of lights.
Book: Nana by Émile Zola
Mood: Luxurious, decadent
This listing promises a stay in “one of the great apartments of the great French bourgeoisie within a mansion.” Of course, this made us think of Zola’s famous creation, the courtesan who rose from the gutter of Paris to became a celebrated beauty and ruiner of wealthy men. Whether you want to pretend to be Nana or one of the men she ruins, this luxe apartment would be the perfect place to plot your scheme to rise in society.
Book: Là-Bas by J.K. Huysmans
Mood: Cloistered, medieval
If you, like the hero of Huysmans’s dark masterpiece, are interested in the darker side of history, this apartment would be the perfect place to brood about witches, satanists, and underworld plots. Once you have finished reading Là-Bas, take a stroll through the neighborhood to the bell tower of Saint-Sulpice, where two of the characters live in the novel.
Neighborhood: Left Bank
Book: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Mood: Modern, racy
When we say Left Bank, we literally mean the bank. Rent this barge docked near Hemingway’s stomping grounds and ponder the lines he used to introduce the fascinating Lady Brett Ashley: “She was built with curves like the hull of a racing yacht.” But if you’re staying on a boat, make sure you don’t drink quite as much as Hemingway’s Left Bank crew–you might fall overboard.
Book: In Montmartre by Sue Roe
Mood: Picturesque, cozy
Sue Roe’s fascinating history of the neighborhood and the artist that lived in it in the early 20th century will allow you to walk the streets with your head in the clouds. Ignore the post card sellers and drunk tourists and see yourself walking alongside Picasso, Matisse, and all the rest.
Neighborhood: Canal Saint-Martin
Book: The Other Paris by Luc Sante
Mood: Hip, bohemian
This is one of the most popular neighborhoods in Paris for artists and young people, and this large house sleeps eleven–the perfect venue for a fun group trip. While you’re there, find out more about the history of Paris’s historic and disappearing working-class neighborhoods (like this one) with Luc Sante’s excellent and engaging history book. Experience that bittersweet gentrifier’s guilt by drinking a bottle of wine on the canal while reading about the laundresses that used to work there.