Thursday doors #178

Here are a few more doors from our most recent trip to Paris – bit of a mixed bag!

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Dan’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

A wander around the Bourse

The Bourse neighbourhood, named after the former Paris stock exchange once located in the majestic Palais Brogniart, occupies the 2nd arrondissement’s middle swath.  Here are the city’s largest concentration of 19th century historic glass-roofed arcades (precursors to our modern indoor shopping malls).

Map of 2nd arrondissement, 75002 Paris

How it all began

Covered passages – “passages couverts” in French – transformed shopping in Paris starting in the late 18th century after the French Revolution led to the nationalisation and sale of many city properties previously owned by religious orders and the Catholic church.  The developers who bought these properties sought to maximize their profits by subdividing them and creating passages lined with small businesses and boutiques between the larger buildings.

At that time, Paris retained much of its medieval character.  Going out to shop meant trudging through crowds down narrow muddy lanes, getting splashed with water (and worse things) by passing horses, walking past open sewers, and trying not to choke from the stench permeating the city.

So when developers transformed the passages between buildings into arcades covered by glass roofs to let sunlight stream in while keeping out rain, floors paved with tile to keep feet dry, and shops and cafes lining both sides began springing up around the city, they were a game-changer for wealthy Parisians – not just a place to shop, but also to socialise.

Out of the 150 or so covered walkways once lining the city, less than 30 remain with the largest number in the 2nd arrondissement.  Each one is different, and they are fascination places to explore – an almost-hidden part of Paris where you can soak up all the architectural details.

Here are nine historic covered passages and galleries to enjoy in the 2nd arrondissement.

Galerie Vivienne

Galerie Vivienne

Upscale Galerie Vivienne (entrances at 6 Rue Vivienne, 5 Rue de la Banque and on Rue des Petits-Champs) is a gracious walkway dating back to 1873. It’s in perfect condition, all polished wood, glass and wrought iron, its mosaic-inlaid corridors lined with plants. Even at peak times this place has an air of quiet elegance, making it a pure pleasure to browse the array of chic boutiques. I found the most divine scarf/shawl shop here and my beloved kindly treated me to one.

Passage Choiseul

Passage Choiseul

Dating back to 1827, Passage Choiseul is an extension of Rue de Choiseul (entrances at 40 Rue des Petits-Champs and 23 Rue Saint-Augustin). Although it contains a variety of shops, in recent years it has also attracted a number of Korean and Japanese businesses and bistros, perhaps an extension of the Asian restaurants along nearby Rue Sainte-Anne and side streets.

Passage des Princes

Paris : Passage des Princes, dernier des passages couverts du XIXème siècle - IIème - Paris la douce, magazine parisien lifestyle, culture, sorties, street art

The Passage des Princes, built in 1860, has the distinction of being the last covered arcade authorised during the era of Baron Haussmann, who eliminated many of them as he rebuilt the city.  Ironically, a real estate company bought it and destroyed in 1885 two architects then rebuilt it almost to its original specifications in 1995 (aside from the modern entrance at 7  Boulevard des Italiens, 97 Rue de Richelieu. Today, Passage des Princes still looks new and gorgeous, with a stained glass cupola and two galleries covered by soaring steel and glass roofs supported by arabesques and meeting at a right angle.

Passage des Panoramas

Passage des Panoramas

Passage des Panoramas, which opened in 1834, was one of the first public spaces in Paris to get gas lighting (1817), forms a maze by connecting with several other glass-roofed arcades – Galerie Saint-Marc, Galerie Feydeau, Galerie Montmartre, Galerie des Variétes – within a large city block enclosed by Boulevard Montmartre, Rue Montmartre, Rue Saint-Marc, and Rue Vivienne. It’s the most characterful of Paris’s covered passages, crammed as it is with quality bars and restaurants, vintage postcard shops and philatelist boutiques.

Passage du Grand Cerf

Passage du Grand Cerf

With its 12-metre-high glass roof, the Passage du Grand Cerf – made famous by Louis Malle’s 1960 film ‘Zazie Dans le Métro’ – is the tallest of Paris’s covered passages. Linking the Rue Saint-Denis and the Rue Dussoubs, it’s one of a second wave of passages built after Haussman’s restoration of central Paris, and had to close for a period because the glass roof had become dangerous. Major works have since returned it to its original glory.

Passage du Caire

Passage du Caire

At 370 metres, the Passage du Caire is the longest and narrowest arcade in Paris. Despite being somewhat shabby and run-down, it still manages to exude an air of its former grandeur. Currently occupied by wholesale textile, trim, and ready-to-wear businesses – a microcosm of the garment industry in Sentier.  You just know it’s awaiting gentrification. It opened in 1798 just as Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt ignited the French capital with a craze for all things Egyptian. Hence the three sculptural images of the Egyptian goddess Hathor peering down from the side of the building on Place du Caire where the the passage’s main entrance is located.

Galerie Colbert

Galerie Colbert | UFR - Histoire de l'Art et Archéologie

Galerie Colbert has spectacular rotunda topped by a glass dome, and it contains just one restaurant (a splendid and very popular brasserie, Le Grand Colbert) and no shops.  That’s because the National Library of France bought the 1826 gallery several decades ago and it now houses the National Institute of Art History and a number of other cultural institutions. Located between 6 Rue des Petits-Champs and 2 Rue Vivienne, it’s worth visiting (after passing through a security check point) to admire the dome and ornate glass-roofed passage.

Passage du Bourg l’Abbé

Passage du Bourg-l’Abbé

This once-elegant passage build in 1826 retains much of its beauty, despite the mish-mash of shops inside. It’s located between 120 Rue Saint-Denis and 3 Rue de Palestro. On the Rue de Palestro, two majestic statues – allegories of commerce and industry – flank its entrance to the Passage du Bourg-l’Abbé.

Wordless Wednesday #145

Wednesday is devoted to photos from Australia taken on one of my many #adventuresdownunder.

Trip to The Ritz, Paris

We’re slowly but surely working our way around some of the best hotels in Paris. On our most recent trip we ate lunch in the Bar Vendôme of The Ritz in the city’s 1st arrondissement.

How it all began

Plan de la place Vendôme | Paris Musées

The hotel is in the Place Vendôme which was established by the Marquis de Louvois and abandoned due to a lack of funds. After Louvois’ death the site was bought by King Louis XIV, but finances ran low and the project was bought and completed by economist John Law.

Lot number 15, Place Vendôme site was purchased in 1705 by Antoine Bitaut de Vaillé, advisor to the Grand Council, nominee of Jeanne Baillet de La Cour, widow of Nicolas Baillet de La Cour and acting on behalf of his daughter Anne. Jeanne bequeathed it in 1710 to her daughter, Anne, wife of Duke Antoine de Gramont. Anne, a chambermaid to the first doctor of Louis XIV, Daquin, then to Louis Sanguin, Marquis de Livry, married the Duke Antoine Charles IV of Gramont who left his name to the hôtel particulier Hôtel de Gramont which was built on the site.

In 1721, the Duchesse de Gramont, who had become a widow, sold it to Daniel François de Gelas of Voisin (1686–1762), knight of Amber and count of Lautrec, who lived there for 30 years. It was sold in 1750 to Charles de la Villette, treasurer of the extraordinary wars, who rented it to the Prince of Andorra, Spanish ambassador. From 1775 it belonged to Claude Darras, secretary of the king, and then was occupied from 1788 by the Direction of the liquidation of the public debt and then from 1792 by the Mortgage Credit.

The façade was designed by the royal architect Jules Hardouin Mansart. In 1854 it was acquired by the Péreire brothers, who made it the head office of their Crédit Mobilier financial institution.

In 1888, the Swiss hotelier César Ritz and the French chef Auguste Escoffier opened a restaurant in Baden-Baden, and the two were then invited to London by Richard D’Oyly Carte to become the first manager and chef of the Savoy Hotel, positions they held from 1889 until 1897. The Savoy under Ritz was an immediate success, attracting a distinguished and moneyed clientele, headed by the Prince of Wales.

In 1897, Ritz and Escoffier were both dismissed from the Savoy, when Ritz was implicated in the disappearance of over £3,400 worth of wine and spirits. Before their dismissal, customers at the Savoy had reportedly urged them to open a hotel in Paris.

Aided by Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle, Ritz purchased the palace and transformed the former Hôtel de Gramont building into a 210-room hotel to provide his rich clientele with “all the refinement that a prince could desire in his own home.” He engaged the architect Charles Mewès to update the original 1705 structure.

Ritz’s innovative standards of hygiene demanded a bathroom for every suite, the maximum possible amount of sunlight, and the minimum of curtains and other hangings. At the same time he furnished the hotel with all the old-fashioned appeal of an English or French gentleman’s house, in order to make clients feel at home.

Ritz Paris (1898), Paris | Historic Hotels of the World-Then&Now

The hotel opened on 1 June 1898 to a “glittering reception”.Together with the culinary talents of his junior partner Escoffier, Ritz made the hotel synonymous with opulence, service, and fine dining, as embodied in the term “ritzy.” It immediately became fashionable with Parisian socialites, hosting many prestigious personalities over the years. Hemingway (pictured below with Ritz) once said:

When in Paris the only reason not to stay at the Ritz is if you can’t afford it.

In 1904 and 1908, the Ritz garden café was painted by the Swiss artist, Pierre-Georges Jeanniot. Proust wrote parts of Remembrance of Things Past here from around 1909.

The building was extended in 1910, and César Ritz died in 1918, succeeded by his son, Charles Ritz. Queen Marie of Romania stayed at the Ritz Hotel with her two eldest daughters, Elisabeth (of Greece) and Maria (of Yugoslavia) in 1919 while campaigning for Greater Romania at the Paris Peace Conference. Many other prominent royal figures and heads of state slept and dined at the hotel over the years. Edward VII reportedly once got stuck in a too-narrow bathtub with his lover at the hotel. August Escoffier died in 1935.

During the summer of 1940, the Luftwaffe, the air forces of Nazi Germany during WWII set up their headquarters at the Ritz, with their chief Hermann Göring.

On 22 April 1955, the Duke and Duchess of Parma hosted a coming out ball for their daughter, Princess Cécile Marie of Bourbon-Parma, at the hotel.

La chaotique construction de la place Vendôme – Paris ZigZag | Insolite & Secret

After the death of Charles Ritz in 1976, the hotel endured a period of slow decline. As it lost its lustre, its clientele diminished, and for the first time in its existence, it began to lose money. It was rescued, however, in 1979 by Egyptian businessman, Mohamed Al-Fayed, who purchased the hotel for US$20 million and installed a new managing director, Frank Klein.

Klein, in turn, put Guy Legay, the former chief of the three-star Ledoyen, in charge of the kitchen. Al-Fayed renovated it completely over several years without stopping its operation; this was achieved by annexing two townhouses, joined by an arcade housing many of Paris’s leading boutiques.

Relaxed cocktails at Bar Hemingway

he renovation of the hotel was headed by the architect Bernard Gaucherel from 1980 to 1987. The entire renovation cost a total of US$250 million. The restaurants were given a new look, and a swimming pool, health club, and spas were created in the basement. The Little Bar was renamed the Hemingway Bar. In 1988, the Ritz-Escoffier School of French Gastronomy was established in honour of Auguste Escoffier.

Ritz Paris Historical Photos - Photos Of The Ritz Paris

On 31 August 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales and Al-Fayed’s son Dodi Al-Fayed, and their chauffeur Henri Paul, dined in the Imperial Suite of the hotel before leaving the hotel with bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones, only to have a fatal car accident in the Pont de l’Alma underpass.

Beginning in 2012, the 159 room hotel underwent a four-year, multimillion-euro renovation, re-opening on 6 June 2016.While the hotel has not (yet) applied for the ‘Palace’ distinction from the French ministry of economy, industry and employment, its Imperial Suite has been listed by the French government as a national monument.

Because of its status as a symbol of high society and luxury, the hotel features in many notable works of fiction including novels (F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is The Night and Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises), a play (Noël Coward’s play Semi-Monde), and films (Billy Wilder’s 1957 comedy Love in the Afternoon and William Wyler’s 1966 comedy How to Steal a Million).

Musical Monday: Carpenters

A well-known duo that’s sadly now a solo act!

Carpenters were an American vocal and instrumental duo consisting of siblings Karen (1950–1983) and Richard Carpenter (1946 – ). They produced a distinct, soft, musical style, combining Karen’s contralto vocals with Richard’s harmonizing, arranging and composition skills. During their 14-year career, the Carpenters recorded 10 albums along with numerous singles and several television specials.

They first performed together as a duo in 1965 and formed the jazz-oriented Richard Carpenter Trio followed by the middle-of-the-road group Spectrum. Signing as Carpenters to A&M Records in 1969, they achieved major success the following year with the hit singles “(They Long to Be) Close to You” and “We’ve Only Just Begun”.

The duo’s brand of melodic pop produced a record-breaking run of hit recordings on the American Top 40 and Adult Contemporary charts, and they became leading sellers in the soft rock, easy listening and adult contemporary music genres. They had three number-one singles and five number-two singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and 15 number-one hits on the Adult Contemporary chart, in addition to 12 top-10 singles.

The duo toured continually during the 1970s, which put them under increased strain; Richard took a year off in 1979 after he had become addicted to Quaalude, while Karen suffered from anorexia nervosa. Their joint career ended in 1983 when Karen died from heart failure brought on by complications of anorexia. Extensive news coverage surrounding these circumstances increased public awareness of eating disorders. Their music continues to attract critical acclaim and commercial success. They have sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

French Fancies: Zadig & Voltaire

This week we’re back on familiar French territory – ready-to-wear.

Zadig & Voltaire is a leading French brand in the accessible luxury ready-to-wear market, known for its Parisian-chic and rock and roll inspiration. The company currently operates approximately 400 boutiques and shop-in-shops in approximately 40 countries throughout Europe, Asia and North America. The consumer brand is also active across channels, with an e-commerce platform and a broadening wholesale effort, which spans product licensing, as well as partner-led retailing in 12 additional countries. Zadig & Voltaire was subsequently acquired by Peninsula Capital in March 2021.

How it all began

https://cache.marieclaire.fr/data/photo/w1000_ci/5n/zadig-voltaire-printemps-e-te-20201.jpg

Zadig & Voltaire is a parisian ready-to-wear label founded in 1997 by Troyes-born Thierry Gillier, the grandson of Andre Gillier, co-founder of the iconic French fashion house Lacoste. Raised in a family of textile entrepreneurs, he moved to Paris after studying in New York, where he worked for Yves Saint Laurent before launching Zadig & Voltaire, in 1997, with his ex-wife Amélie. Gillier named the brand after one of his favourite books, the 1747 novella Zadig, or the Book of Fate, by the French writer Voltaire. Gillier explained:

Zadig was a revolutionary and told people to be themselves. Zadig & Voltaire captures the free spirit and individuality.

Their first collection, based on knits, immediately won over a considerable clientele because it proposed a very recognisable silhouette: jeans, cashmere pullover, boots and leather jackets.A new, pret-a-porter, rock chic style was born, defining new urban luxury dress codes. Affordable cashmere gradually became their signature material and was offered in bright, happy colours, e.g., mint green, fluorescent pink and golden sand, colours rarely seen in cashmere and which became the Zadig & Voltaire trademark.

Les influenceuses choisies pour la campagne de Zadig et Voltaire sont...

The originality of their relaxed pullovers lay also in the little rebel touches added by Amlie, e.g., skulls, eagles, or a rock star’s name on the back. Zadig & Voltaire soon became known for luxe, rock-chic silk shirts and dresses, leather jackets and strategically torn jeans and T-shirts that have become off-duty celebrity staples. (The New York Times once described Zadig & Voltaire’s look as “Haute Liberal Arts Dormitory.”) The first Zadig & Voltaire store opened in Saint-Germain-des-Pré in 1997.

In the beginning Zadig & Voltaire was a women’s fashion brand but, since 2004 it has had a men’s line and two years later introduced a children’s line. It’s a fashion house characterised by an edgy, youthful style and the use of quality materials. It draws inspiration from art and musical artists such as Patti Smith, Marianne Faithfull and Jane Birkin. Products are based on a punk-rock aesthetic, mixing very different fabrics such as cashmere, leather and denim. Clothes with a grunge flavour embody the strength and sensitivity of the modern woman.

Zadig_Voltaire_SS20

Since 2006, the Swedish former model Cecilia Bönström, Gillier’s current wife, has been the brand’s artistic director. She manages the development of all collections (women’s, men’s and children’s) for the design studio.

Zadig & Voltaire

The French brand has collaborated with several international personalities and brands to create capsule collections. In 2019, it launched four handbags with supermodel Kate Moss. A strategic marketing choice in line with the increase in accessory sales (20% of the brand’s total sales volume is bags).

Zv x kate moss

The brand is also enjoying considerable success with its fragrance lines introduced in 2012. In 2019, Zadig & Voltaire’s sales increased by 25% year-over-year and, in particular, revenue from accessories increased by 42%.

Zadig & Voltaire - This is Love! Pour Elle - Elegance Parfum

To further the company’s expansionary goals, Rémy Baume joined as CEO in January 2020, from Kidiliz Group, which created childrenswear clothing lines for luxury brands including Kenzo and Paul Smith. European private equity firm Peninsula joined as a minority partner, also in January 2020.

Last year marked its 25th anniversary when it revealed an ambitious, international expansion policy with goals for 2025, including an intensified focus on China, a new digital strategy and a commitment to sustainability.

In China, Zadig & Voltaire has rebranded itself as “Sàdigé” – easier to say for the Chinese – and plans to multiply its activity there tenfold. The retailer has already been present in China for 10 years through a 50:50 joint venture with IT Group, but it has now created a wholly owned company for China, Sàdigé. Zadig currently has 16 stores in China and also sells on its biggest online sales platform, Alibaba’s Tmall.

The company hopes to reach 60 boutiques by 2025 and to increase its visibility on Chinese social networks such as Weibo and Wechat, and Chinese ecommerce platforms. Alongside this, the retailer has just announced the appointment of a CEO for China, Jean Lahirle,  who has 25 years’ experience in Asia, advising luxury brands such as Chanel, Celine and, more recently, Delvaux on their retail strategies in the region.

Zadig’s ambitions do not stop at China. The retailer hopes to open 122 stores in France and overseas  by 2025, representing a 36% increase in its store footprint. While China will be the main focus in terms of opening stores – it hopes to have more than 45 stores by 2025 – it also wants to expand in Europe and North America. Baume believes the brand weathered the months of store closures because, unlike fast fashion retailers, its customers tend to visit once or twice a season, so it did not make a difference to wait until retail reopened.

At the same time, Baume is committed to a strong digital strategy. Before the pandemic, digital represented 15% of sales. During the lockdowns, digital sales, representing sales on its website and online market places doubled, but they have since stabilised at 25%. The brand aims to reach 30% by 2025. Part of the strategy will involve developing a pre-order policy, where customers will be able to shops clothes online from the day of Zadig’s Paris fashion week shows for autumn/winter and spring/summer.

Crucially, however, Baume wants to achieve all this while launching VoltAIRe – Zadig’s global sustainability programme. It intends to use 100% environmentally responsible key raw materials by 2025: 100% of cotton will be organic; 100% of virgin cashmere items will be Good Cashmere Standard; 100% of its virgin wool items will be Responsible Wool Standard; and 100% of leather will come from Leather Working Group tanneries.

It is a bold new plan for expansion, and there will be challenges in transforming Zadig into a mainstream luxury brand in China and winning over Asian consumers. But it is reassuring to see that alongside the business plan, sustainability is front and centre. But what now for Gillier?

All images courtesy of Zadig & Voltaire

Silent Sunday #124

It’s Sunday and today’s photo is from ma belle France.

The Musette: Fun Bars

We don’t celebrate Halloween in France but, if we did, these are the bars I’d prepare for “trick or treaters.” They’re a favourite of mine because they’re so easy to make and easy to customise with whatever is at hand. The topping ideas are endless, limited only by one’s imagination and they’re always a crowd-pleaser, particularly with little ones!

You can really have fun with these bars, hence the name, adding or omitting anything you’d like! Swap peanuts for pecans (or no nuts if allergic), swap M&Ms for chocolate chips, toffee chips for butterscotch chips, pretzels for crisps……………

Ingredients (makes 24 bars)

  • 115g (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 100g (1 cup) digestive biscuit (graham cracker) crumbs
  • 115g (1 cup) finely ground chocolate wafers
  • 170g (1 cup) 70% cocoa (bittersweet) chocolate chips
  • 240g (1 cup) butterscotch chips
  • 125g (1 cup) chopped pecans
  • 100g (1 cup) shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 35g (1 cup) crushed potato crisps (chips)
  • 400g (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

Method

1.Preheat oven to 180°C /fan 160°C/gas mark 4/350°F and oil a 28 x 18 cm (9 x 13 inch) non-stick baking pan or line with greaseproof (parchment) paper, letting the paper hang off the long sides of the pan (for easy removal at the end).

2. In a bowl, combine melted butter with both biscuit crumbs until they’re moist. Place mixture into baking pan and evenly press with the bottom of a glass to form a level and flat crust.

Showing how to make magic bars pouring sweetened condensed milk over chocolate chip layer in baking dish.

3.Sprinkle the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, pecans, coconut and potato chips – or whatever you’re using –  all over the crust. Then cover with the sweetened condensed milk.

Finished seven layer magic cookie bars after baking cut into squares in baking dish.

6. Bake in the over for 25 to 30 minutes until the biscuits are golden on top and firm to touch. Allow to cool before cutting and serving.

7. If the bars still seem too soft and gooey to slice, put them in the fridge (covered) for a few hour until they firm up.

Magic Cookie Bars @ TotallyChefs

8. Store sliced fun bars between layers of greaseproof (parchment) paper in an airtight container. They’ll keep in the fridge for about a week, not that they’ll last that long!

 

One from the vaults: A good read

Like last week, I’m heading back to a post from November 2010 which looks at my collection of cycling books. I want to add to the collection but lack of space is holding me back. Regular readers know that I love books and would happily turn our guest bedroom into a library given half a chance. A girl can never have too many book shelves!

This month’s Cycle Sport magazine opines on “the best 50 cycling books of all time [in the English language]”. Lists are always interesting, open to debate and, ultimately, very subjective despite their authors proclaiming their objectivity. Given that I have quite (typical British understatement) a large collection of books on cycling, I was keen to see where we agreed, where we differed and which books were in their list which I had yet to acquire and read.

I guard my books and only a favoured few are allowed to borrow them. I say this from bitter experience as a number of books have been borrowed and never returned and, as they are now out of print, are proving difficult to replace. For example, my beloved, one of the worst culprits, may borrow any book but cannot remove it from the premises. I don’t keep lists of who has what book at any point in time, I don’t need to, I know by heart where they all are at any given time.

You will note that I qualified the list as, not unnaturally, Cycle Sport has only included books either written in English or those subsequently translated into English. So, for example, “Tomorrow We Ride” written by Jean Bobet, “A Century of Paris-Roubaix” by Pascal Sergent and “We Were Young and Carefree” by Laurent Fignon make the list as they’ve been translated from the original French into English.

For similar reasons, the biographies feature largely English speaking riders notably Tommy Simpson, Barry Hoban, Robert Millar, Graeme Obree, Allan Peiper, Greg LeMond, Stephen Roche, Sean Kelly, Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and many tomes about that man Lance. However, a couple of my favourite books feature cyclists who are not so well known and they’re both on the list. “A Significant Other” by Matt Rendell covers a former domestique of Lance’s from Columbia, Victor Hugo Pena. While, “Kings of the Mountains” looks at the role of cycling within Columbia’s most recent history and the Columbian riders who’ve ridden in Europe.

Stories about a few foreign riders make the cut, again solely because they’re written in English: Paul Howard’s revealing “Sex, Lies and Handlebar Tape” about Jacques Anquetil, Matt Rendell’s excellent “The Death of Marco Pantani” and William Fotheringham’s “Fallen Angel – The Passion of Fausto Coppi”.

I have read a number of books about Pantani and I would say that while Rendell’s is undoubtedly an excellent read, and certainly a measured account, it falls short of Philippe Brunel’s tale “Vie et Mort de Marco Pantani” simply because Brunel had greater access to Pantani while he was alive.

My favourite book about Il Campionissimo was written by Jean-Paul Ollivier “Fausto Coppi La Gloire et Les Larmes”. As a historian, the author weaves his tale about Coppi against a backdrop of the social and economic history of Italy. As a consequence, he breathes more life and meaning into his subject and leaves  the reader with a greater understanding. I’ve also enjoyed the same author’s insights into Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil and Raymond Poulidor.

A book I’ve read recently, and whose words really resonated with me, is “Le Metier” by Michael Barry. The book is a seasonal account of the last year Barry rode for Columbia-HTC,  beautifully illustrated with photographs. In my opinion, Barry most accurately conveys to his readers what it’s like to be a professional bike rider. Even as a hobby cyclist I found I could empathise with his accounts of training on his own.

Doping looms large as one of the most frequently covered topics in books on Cycle Sport’s List: specifically, Will Voet’s “Breaking the Chain”, Jeremy Whittle’s “Bad Blood”, from “Lance to Landis” by David Walsh and Paul Kimmage’s “A Rough Ride”.  For me, the most illuminating book on this subject is  “Prisonnier du Dopage”  by Philippe Gaumont a former pro-cyclist who rode for Cofidis 1997-2003.

There are a few surprising omissions. To my knowledge there’s only one book in English about the Vuelta “Viva la Vuelta – the story of Spain’s great bike race” by Lucy Fallon and Adrian Bell and for that reason alone it should be on the list. “The Giro d’Italia – Coppi versus Bartali at the 1949 Tour of Italy” is the only book on that race on Cycle Sport’s list. For some reason, neither the Vuelta nor the Giro have spawned the same number of books as the Tour, not even in their native languages.

There’s a few other books I would put on my list which are not on Cycle Sport’s. I rather enjoyed David (Talking Heads) Byrne’s “Bicycle Diaries”  which chronicles his thoughts and observations as he pedals through some of the major cities in the world. 1960’s Italy and Italian cycling culture in brought to life in Herbie Sykes “The Eagle of Canavese” about Franco Balmamion who won back to back Giro titles. I loved “Indurain: una pasion templada” by Javier Garcia Sanchez which showcases one of Spain’s sporting idols, the very modest and humble Miguel Indurain whom I have been fortunate to meet. For those of you whose better halves don’t share your passion for cycling, can I suggest a Xmas stocking filler: “Roadie: the Misunderstood World of a Bike Racer” by Jamie Smith.

I don’t have all the books on Cycle Sport’s list and that in itself raises some concerns as I’m now bound to try and obtain copies,  even though many are probably out of print,  because my collection just won’t be complete without them. Amazon and eBay, here I come………………………….

Thursday doors #177

Here are a few doors from our most recent trip to Paris – not my usual fare!

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Dan’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).