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Paris on Paper: The books which inspired our New Year getaway

As a huge surprise to the girls this New Year: we decided to celebrate 2020 in style and took a road trip to Paris. It was a long way from Scotland but well worth it! But because of the travelling we decided to keep the gifts small and gave the girls each a box filled with Parisian delights, some French themed books for the journey, a Paris map and of course a little French phrase book.

Here are the books which inspired our trip:

Ruby Red Shoes Goes to Paris by Kate Knapp. We love Ruby Red Shoes and having fallen in love with her book of London, Florence was particularly keen to use this story line to plan her days in Paris. We read this together one evening at our first hotel stop which was in northern France in a teeny tiny village. It was so sweet to see Florence start writing a list of things she needed to see in Paris just like Ruby Red Shoes’ visit. The illustrations are divine and I have to say we truely discovered a delightful Paris from this book. Florence noticed the beautiful doorways and the lovely signs. She loved the twirling stairways in our hotel, and made croissant smiles at breakfast. We discovered the food market in St Germain where we could tick off the florists and the beautiful fruits. We ate crepes with strawberry jam just like Ruby and found Cafe de Flores where we ate  perfect chocolate eclairs. We saw old Metro signs, the Eiffel Tower, the Sacre-Coeur on the hill and even ate snails. For anyone ever travelling to Paris, I feel this is THE book to take with them. It’s magical!

Diva and Flea: A Parisian Tale by Mo Willems and Tony Diterlizzi. A classic loved by both of my girls. This is the story of Diva, the dog, who lives in a grand Parisian apartment and of Flea, a stray cat who’s adventures together form a strong friendship. One which lasts a lifetime.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selzick. Helena was enthralled with this book throughout our journey. Hugo is twelve and lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station. His world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric girl and her grandfather which puts Hugo’s undercover life in jeopardy. This spellbinding mystery is annotated through incredible pencil drawings and is a great read.

Little People, Big Dreams: Coco Chanel by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara. I defy any little girl (or mama for that fact) to go to Paris and not want to find a Chanel store! Florence was determined to find a Chanel store and once we did we treat ourselves to a Parisian red nail varnish and lipstick. The Little People, Big Dreams books are our favourites and the way Vegara has managed to encapsulate the importance of Chanel’s work for a young reader to understand is wonderful.

Little People, Big Dreams: Marie Curie by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara. In the same series as Coco Chanel’s life, this very different story of Marie Curie really inspires Florence. As part of our walk through Paris, Florence wanted to find the Pantheon in the 5th arrondissement where Marie Curie is buried. Beautifully put together this is definately one of Florence’s favourite books.

Amongst these beautiful storybooks, the girls really enjoyed their French phrase book and using the map was so important in teaching them mapping skills. The girls circled our hotel and the sights they wanted to see as well as streets which had beautiful doorways on and the food market we found.

Our trip to Paris was magical and was a great start to 2020. Please share any of your Paris favourites in books as I’d love further suggestions for the next trip there.

Vanessa x



Comments (5)

May 28, 2020

Hello Vanessa, thank you for your lovely post!
Talking about city maps I would recommend my favourite one from an amazing Parisian illustrator, Marin Montagut: Bonjour Paris
It’s a beatifully watercolour illustrated folding map, full of wonderful and secret addresses off the tourist grid.
And if you want to discover a Bohemian Paris by night Bonsoir Paris is available too (along with the maps of London, New York, Provence, Normandie and the stunning quarter of Saint Germain des Pres).
The maps are pocket sized, water and tear proof, so elegant and refined, they feel like true trasure maps!
Ciao from Italy

June 24, 2020

These maps by Marin Montagut look amazing! I’ll have to check them out. Thank you for sharing them. x

May 29, 2020

Thank you for this! We are leaving for a road trip to a beach and your list inspired me to get books, and ideas for nature journaling while we are in Florida to learn more about it. Oh, and a wonderful homeschool way to learn until their school is done in 2 weeks.

June 23, 2020

Another wonderful book for children that is set in Paris is ‘Rooftoppers’ by Catherine Rundell. I have just read it to my 8 year old son and we were both mesmerised.

June 24, 2020

Helena adores Rooftoppers. I agree, it’s a great read. Katherine Rundell is a fabulous writer.

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