Read The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs by Elaine Sciolino Online


A delightful and beguiling look at life on a small Paris street. Elaine Sciolino, the former Paris bureau chief of the New York Times, invites us on a tour of her favorite Parisian street. “I can never be sad on the rue des Martyrs,” Sciolino explains, as she celebrates the neighborhood’s rich history and vibrant lives. While many cities suffer from the leveling effects ofA delightful and beguiling look at life on a small Paris street. Elaine Sciolino, the former Paris bureau chief of the New York Times, invites us on a tour of her favorite Parisian street. “I can never be sad on the rue des Martyrs,” Sciolino explains, as she celebrates the neighborhood’s rich history and vibrant lives. While many cities suffer from the leveling effects of globalization, the rue des Martyrs maintains its distinct allure. Sciolino reveals the charms and idiosyncrasies of this street and its longtime residents—the Tunisian greengrocer, the husband-and-wife cheesemongers, the showman who’s been running a transvestite cabaret for more than half a century, the owner of a 100-year-old bookstore, the woman who repairs eighteenth-century mercury barometers—making Paris come alive in all its unique majesty. The Only Street in Paris will make readers hungry for Paris, for cheese and wine, and for the kind of street life that is all too quickly disappearing....

Title : The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780393242379
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs Reviews

  • Diane S ☔
    2019-04-15 19:30

    So did not want this book to end. Loved reading about this street which retains so many individual shop owners, many specializing in just one thing. The history of some of the buildings, meeting the shopkeepers, the history of the area and the delightful stores themselves. The books, famous writers, artists who once made this place their homes or mentioned them in their novels. The feel, the tone, the passion made me feel as if I was there. Definitely a place I would love to visit one day. Informative, entertaining and delightful.

  • Laura Swenson
    2019-04-05 19:05

    It will be impossible to ever understand all of Paris's secrets. This book unlocked the secrets of one of its streets: with unexpected details about its past and present residents and architecture. Overall colorful and funny. It's also a testament to the power of mindfulness: of paying attention, of unabashedly loving one’s surroundings, and – perhaps most important of all - of taking the time to get to know those around us.

  • John
    2019-04-18 20:08

    It turns out that I don't like memoirs by extroverts. Who knew?The best parts were the stories of the people and the history of the street. The worst parts were where the author is like: "Let me tell you about how I wanted the Pope to visit the street and someone thought that was a good idea and I wrote this letter, but nothing ever happened with it, isn't that cool?" Or "I talked to this person and they didn't want to talk to me so I annoyed them regularly until I broke them down and they were nice to me eventually, so all people really are good." Or"Let me tell you about a time when I threw a party and it was kinda cool, it turns out. People had fun!"I mean, that's cool and all, but a chapter in a book? Seems a bit...narcissistic.Maybe I just feel that way because I'm an introvert.

  • Sheirin
    2019-04-12 20:28

    Having lived off the Rue de Martyrs in another life, I was excited to read this book, but the author was absolutely insufferable. Between her many passing brags about "her least favorite Hermès" and her bulldozing her way into everybody's personal lives, I wonder if her neighbors ever perfected a warning system for l'arivée de l'américaine. This woman is so obtuse that in one chapter she talks about giving directions to the chauffeur for her and Arianna Huffigton and follows it with "Gentrification is coming, less ferociously than at the bottom of the rue des Martyrs, but it is coming—crowding out the cheap bars, small-time drug dealers, itinerant winos, and chain-smoking streetwalkers." Just. I want to punch her.One of her interviewee victims offered the best inadvertent review of this book: "'books of anecdotes,” she said. “You can’t say very much with anecdotes. Too many anecdotes—it means the author lacks inspiration. There is no writing. There is no style. There is no poetry.”"She sounds like she lives a fairly charmed existence, though - must be nice to be so oblivious!

  • Sara Coriell
    2019-04-20 19:06

    Overall I was bored with it. I skipped some chapters completely. Her descriptions made made me feel like i was there, which I liked - however she seemed to drag on and on about the same thing, sometimes in a bragging way. It did make me crave some good wine & cheese!

  • Patty
    2019-04-12 20:12

    “Some people look at the rue des Martyrs and see a street. I see stories.” p. 1All that was needed for this wonderful book to catch my attention was the first sentence. I have been visiting Paris through books off and on for more than a year, but even more importantly, Sciolino was promising me stories. My hopes for this book rose accordingly. After finishing her book, I feel that Sciolino more than met her promise.When I meet people, whether in books or in real life, I want to know their stories. I want to know what makes a person tick, what her life is like and what his background is. Sciolino does a great job of telling what the rue des Martyrs is like now and how it got that way. Along with the history of the street, she introduces her readers to the people who live and work there now. I feel like they are all people I would like to meet in person.John Baxter, whose stories of Paris I have also been reading, introduced me to literary Paris. Famous people are part of what Baxter talks about in his city of lights. Sciolino has narrowed her focus to one street. Famous people are part of her book; however, she includes more of the residents of the street. These are average Parisians. I enjoyed meeting them and learning a bit about normal life in Paris.If you have been to Paris, or are just an armchair traveler, I think you would enjoy meeting the author and her neighbors. Sciolino’s style is light and breezy and her tale whisks you away to an interesting place. Her story is worth reading.Thank you to W. W. Norton & Company and Edelweiss for allowing me to read this book before publication.

  • Paul Secor
    2019-03-23 14:18

    The Only Street in Paris was entertaining at times, but I sensed that the author's background clouded the book. She plays up the fact that she comes from a Sicilian immigrant background, but she obviously is upper upper middle class these days. I felt that her connection with the shop keepers on her street was mainly that of a good customer who spent money in their shops, and that there probably was a lot going on the Rue des Martyrs that she didn't experience.Her description of a short shopping spree with Ariana Huffington turned me off. I'd rather go through a colonoscopy prep than go shopping with Ms. Huffington. I'm thankful that I'll never have to experience the latter.Having said all of the above, I was entertained at times, and I give Elaine Sciolino credit for being someone who is open to people and who is seemingly willing to talk to anyone. That's a gift that I wish I had.

  • Tiffany
    2019-03-23 19:33

    In comparison to other travelogues (especially about Paris), it might be a 3 star. But a 3 star travelogue is still 4 stars in comparison with any other genre. ;)

  • Lea
    2019-04-06 15:11

    "There is more civilization in an alley in Paris than in the whole of New York" - Eça de QueirósThis is one of my father's favourite quotes, although he often likes to substitute "civilization" for "history".It is true that if you're going to write a book about just one street, of course it is going to be a Parisian street. There is enough history in that city that you can study it your whole life and still have things to learn. You can walk there every day and still discover amazing things.I will say that I enjoyed this book for the history of the Rue des Martyrs and for the many recommendations of shops there today. I learned a lot and now have a very long list of bonnes adresses to check out - and a brand new excuse to visit Paris again (as if I needed one). Reading the book, I could picture myself there, smell the city, see the shopkeepers, taste the delicacies - and this is why even a so-so book about Paris is still a good book.What I didn't really like about the book was the author herself, Elaine Sciolino. She's obnoxious, arrogant, brash, clueless and a braggart. Some of the passages where she tried to insinuate herself in the shopkeepers' lives or tell them what to do without regard for their feelings, basically bulldozing into their privacy, were painfully embarassing. She likes to play up her "immigrant" background (her grandfather was from Italy... very relatable to the shopkeepers from Tunisia in Paris, is it not? she seems to think so). And she "casually" likes to slip in bits about how she was wearing "her least favourite Hermès" in one occasion, shopping with Ariana Huffington on another (drinking game: one shot for every time she says "Ariana Huffington"), or wearing Louis Vuitton and Chanel for a freaking street potluck in Montmartre of all places.In one particularly painful anecdote, she sees that the antiques dealer has left a Miró silkscreen on display on the sidewalk with other wares and closed his shop for lunch. She considers stealing the silkscreen to "teach him a lesson" on looking after his belongings. She claims she would "eventually" give it back and wonders if he would be "so grateful" to her that he might give to her for free. Ummm, what the fuck?Sciolino is bureau chief for the New York Times in Paris, which is either evidence that the NYT has very low standards for journalists, or that Sciolino is playing dumb both in her interactions with the rue des Martyrs shopkeepers and in the book for the "benefit" of the reader. None of the options are very appealing.My tip for prospective readers is this: if you love Paris, I recommend reading this book, but as soon as you notice the author going off on her narcissistic tangents or cringeworthy anecdotes, just skip whatever it is she is saying. Stick to the history and the bits about the shops and you'll enjoy yourself very much indeed with this light, fast read.

  • Suzanne
    2019-04-17 19:15

    I didn't have high hopes for this. So much writing about Paris tends to be predictable and as substantial as a croissant. The books are palatable and enjoyable but not terribly nourishing. Sciolino's book is not this. It is heartier fare. But not obviously scholarly or pedantic. It is a perfectly balanced meal of levity and information and provocative suggestions. Wait, no. That's not what I meant. I meant that it invites the reader to think more deeply about the tensions between the obvious benefits of modernization and globalization, and the less obvious, but no less desirable, benefits of preserving the past and protecting the native culture of a group. Sciolino's discussion of these tensions is limited to one particular street in Paris but it can clearly be related to a hierarchy of meta-levels. How can the Rue des Martyrs maintain its peculiar nature while absorbing non-European immigrants and staying economically competitive, or, how can the Rue des Martyrs stay the Rue des Martyrs? How can we keep Paris Parisian. How can we keep France French. How can we keep Europe European. And it is a discussion that can be applied to any group. But Sciolino keeps it simple and just discusses the Rue des Martyrs. If you choose to take it beyond that, that's on you. She never says you should. The writing is very smooth, erudite, never fancier than it needs to be and is neither vulgar nor hoity. It has that quality of "painting a mental picture" that is so boring to describe and so transcendent to experience.If I have any criticism at all it would be that while Sciolino is an excellent writer, she is only a mediocre performer in the audio version. That was initially a minor quibble that faded away. Whether she got better or I just got used to her, I couldn't say. All I know is that after a short time her story was more compelling than her performance was lackluster. Her French accent is reassuringly just adequate so she never comes across as trying too hard. If she was erring on the side of low-key to avoid an amateurish over-the-top reading, that was probably the right call. I highly recommend the book. The audio version comes with the above caveats.

  • Allyson
    2019-04-11 15:29

    This was very informative and I even took some notes, but overall her tone was a little too cute and juvenile for me to consider her more seriously. I am sure she is a very nice person but I craved a more polished presentation. The "Only Street in Paris" felt a little bizarre as a title, but the faux script writing was indicative of it's lightweight status. Very probably she had little input into the book's design however. I was hoping for a much more polished book but maybe she was appealing to a different audience than this one.

  • Nancy
    2019-04-14 16:18

    In this marvelous book Elaine Sciolino has perfectly captured what I love about France. The history, the art, the food, the people and so much more all come to life on the pages here. She not only shares with us the life and history of her street (Rue des Martyrs) but also a bit of her own life and some of her history (her Sicilian background and catholic upbringing and her interfaith marriage). Sciolino is an amazingly talented writer and I am quite certain that ANYTHING she wrote about would be a "must read" for me.(La Seduction, her other book about French life, was equally as enjoyable and as fascinating as this one). Since I listened to the audible version of "The Only Street in Paris..." I was doubly rewarded by hearing the author read her own words. This is a "must" read for all Francophiles or anyone who just enjoys a delicious slice of (French) life. Highly recommended

  • Al
    2019-04-12 16:10

    I wasn't sure I could finish this book as I wasn't even 1/2-way through when Paris was attacked. Very glad I did. This book is a celebration of the people living in the village of Montmartre around the rue des Martyrs. It's a love letter to what makes them unique, strong and quirky. It was something of a catharsis to finish the book. Reading about such amazing people left me hopeful. Sciolino was able to capture the ineffable sense of being part of that neighborhood both as outsider and insider. It was transportive and well worth the read.

  • David Cerruti
    2019-04-03 20:24

    After several starts, I just quit trying. The subject is fascinating, but the delivery put me off. It seemed like a blog for “All About Me and My Wonderful Street.” The Rue Des Martyrs is a pleasant street for strolling. This week we bought some ravioli in Sogno di Pasta, a beautiful new shop. Google Maps Street View shows another shop in that location as recently as May, 2016. You can see the entire street in Street View, and save yourself some travel time.

  • Anna Swenson
    2019-03-21 18:14

    Mention the rue des Martyrs to any Parisian, and they smile. So when I heard there was an entire book about this street, I picked it up immediately. The book is well-researched and thorough about the street's history, residents, secret gardens, legends, and yes, its food! Detailed without being boring, the book is a must for any Francophile, history buff, or food-lover. Beautiful photos too.

  • Angi
    2019-04-20 13:31

    I was skeptical that a whole book on just one street would be interesting, but it was amazing!

  • Caterina Pierre
    2019-04-07 16:20

    This is a quick and easy read, and I found it especially nice to read while in Paris, so that I could check out the sites that Sciolino mentions in the book. In one sense, it is about the gentrification of Paris: there is no doubt that old style shops and bars have been lost to big chains like Monoprix and Starbucks. However, unlike in the USA, artisan shops are protected by law and certain streets like the Rue des Martyrs are protected by the government from massive modernization. In another sense, the book is less about Paris and more about Sciolino herself, and the relationships she has developed while living near the street (uh, yes, she doesn’t actually live on the street, she lives around the corner), and the people she has met over the 14 or so years that she’s been living in Paris.It is hard to not be irritated, however, by some chapters that read like T Magazine advertisements for shops, or “36 hours in Paris” essays that you find in the New York Times. Also, Sciolino is rich, with a wealthy life, and so her discussions of Hermès scarves and the like are annoying. Does she do nothing but shop and eat all day? And, probably worst of all, there is a real negativity in the book about the 18th arrondissment, the less rich neighborhood into which the Rue des Martyrs stretches. She says people from the 9th don’t go there because “it’s another world,” or “it’s too far.” Read that as code for it’s too poor, really working class, and/or has more immigrants than the wealthier 9th. And “the only street in Paris”? Uh. Well. My favorite street is the Rue des Archives. It’s an opinion. While her descriptions made me want to visit the Rue des Martyrs and shop there before I leave the city, as a person she is clearly irritating and must drive these shop owners nuts with her meddling. But read it anyway; it’s good airplane reading while on the way to Paris.

  • Shara
    2019-03-23 13:13

    "Come with me down this street and meet the ghosts of our earliest years," Julien Green quoted by Ms. Sciolino. I finished this book at speed because I was off to Paris in May and wanted to visit the Rue des Martyrs. One recent form of Creative Non-fiction is a sort of homage to a very small place--one beach, one small village, one street in Paris. Of course, this book is the latter, one woman's affair with her neighborhood, its history and the people that inhabit it. Ms. Sciolino tells a good tale and enjoys doing so. This book is great fun if you are a Francophile, have been to Paris or intend to go in the near future. Don't expect the usual tourists routes, however. This expresses the joy of living and shopping in Paris, of the minutiae of every day life. And by the way, the street is great. I found a bookstore that I definitely will return to next trip to Paris. Sadly we had no time to shop for food or eat there. Next trip maybe we will try to stay in the area. My advice would be skip Sacre Coeur and go to one of the small neighborhood museums. Thanks for sharing, Ms. Sciolino.

  • Stephanie Chambers
    2019-04-18 15:07

    I could read a whole book on each and every street in Paris. I could read a book about each individual street in all of Europe. By focusing on one particular street, this book was able to give me a complete picture of what it would be like to live on this street. I loved learning the history behind the buildings and the people who've lived there. I loved how much the author loved her street. I think no matter how long you are there, once you fall in love with Paris, you will love it with that pure, uncomplicated love. No matter the crazies.

  • Catie
    2019-04-11 17:15

    Recommendation from Val (@veb789) - 8/24/2017

  • Anne Janzer
    2019-04-10 14:29

    This is an enjoyable, virtual visit to a charming street in Paris. Its well-written and filled with interesting characters.

  • Sally McComas
    2019-04-07 12:29

    Very much enjoyed this book. It made me feel like I was wandering the street with the author. It was a nice slice of everyday Paris life.

  • Jennifer
    2019-04-20 20:09

    Loved, loved, loved this book. A social history of rue des Martyrs in Paris 9eme arrondissement. The chapters focus on different aspects and how the street has changed over the years, centuries. The chapter on the woman who runs a frame repair/gilding shop is fascinating and the store will become a casualty of modern times ... probably within our lifetime.

  • Margaret
    2019-03-23 18:08

    An in-depth exploration of Rue des Martyrs. Now I have to go back to Paris and do some more exploring.

  • Sarah
    2019-04-08 15:09

    I thought I would like this book because I enjoy stories about life in Paris. However, I struggled with it and contemplated giving up on it. The turning point for me was the chapter "Guess Who's Coming to Passover?" followed by "The Murdered Schoolgirls." I enjoyed those two chapters, and they got me interested enough that I finished the book. However, rather than being a definite "like," it was an ok as the two-star rating indicates.I know this is a combination memoir and travelogue, so of course there would be plenty about the author's life. And while I enjoyed reading the few details about her childhood in Buffalo, New York, I found what she shared about her present-day life on the rue des Martyrs was often more irritating than illuminating and overshadowed the stories about the other inhabitants of the street.Just one example. When Yves Hassid, the owner of the last remaining DVD shop in the neighbourhood, was himself going out of business, the author thought he should keep the store's enormous neon sign as a memento. He made excuses, she kept coming up with suggestions, not taking in that he did not want the sign. She finally gave up. However, when new owners took over the premises she got the sign from them (long story) and got it home (long story in which she was pushy with a couple of workers) and then she telephoned Yves to announce the good news. He was delighted, thinking she had obtained the "flag," a much smaller sign that he could rehang if he opened another shop. Then he realized she was talking about the same large, neon sign that he had turned down in the first place months ago. This was not an entertaining story but an indication to me that she doesn't know how to read people. Even after Yves said to her, "The sign you took is huge! It's really heavy. You are crazy! Of course I can't put it in my car. And what am I going to do with it?" she didn't give up. Her response? "I said maybe he could remove the letters from the wooden frame and hang them on his wall at home--like a piece of modern art." (pp. 253-58) And don't get me started on the story about her letter to Pope Francis.Anyway, I finished the book. There were parts that I enjoyed, and I loved the photo of the Notre-Dame-de-Lorette church with the domes of the Sacre-Coeur Basilica hovering over the church. Magical! I wish I could see that view in person.

  • Rich
    2019-03-27 15:04

    This is a remarkable book about a single street in Paris, the rue de Martyrs, which runs from the Ninth to the Eighteenth Arrondissements (districts). It is not a travelogue as much as a slice of life, and lives, by the former Paris bureau chief for the New York Times. I admit a bias on my part; my great-grandmother was from Paris. In 2007 I visited for the first and only time and fell in love with the city. This book captures the vitality of a single, long street: the greengrocers, the meat shops, the bookstores, the clothing boutiques, the gilding-and-mercury-barometer shop, the cafés, the churches, even the transvestite show house. And not just the shops, but most especially the people who work in them or own them. By the end, I felt like I had spent an exhilarating month enjoying the rue de Martyrs, which by the way gets its name from the martyred St. Denis, who, the story goes, ran around with his severed head — a problem for painters who didn't know whether to put his halo over the detached head or over the torso. Sciolino is of Sicilian descent, married to a Jewish man, and Jewish and Catholic both intersect in this book. A number of the shop proprietors are Jewish, including one who brings out the yellow Star of David he was required to wear when the Nazis had commandeered Paris, and mention of the Charlie Hebdo massacre leads into a piece on the Jews of France; while we also get to learn about some of the Catholic saints and Catholic history as well, including the author's attempts to get Pope Francis to pay a visit. I was pleasantly surprised by the spot-on closure provided by the final chapter: like in a well-crafted novel, all the disparate characters that populate the book come together as Sciolino holds a potluck which draws many of those we have met earlier. A great read, and one that may motivate you to make a visit to Paris if you've never been.

  • Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
    2019-03-23 20:16

    Sometimes it seems as if every American who visits France writes a book about the experience. Even if we limit ourselves to books by those who actually take up residence in Paris or Provence, that's still a lot of books to choose from.Elaine Sciolino's book, The Only Street in Paris, has a lot going for it -- Sciolino was the Paris Bureau Chief for The New York Times, she's lived in Paris for over a decade, she and her American husband have raised two American daughters in Paris. She also wrote a fascinating book about French society called La Seduction: How the French Play the Game of Life. In The Only Street in Paris, Sciolino limits herself to writing about a single street in the 9th arrondissement. After living in a different Paris neighborhood, Sciolino and her husband downsized and relocated after their daughters left for university and the rest of their lives. Sciolino knew exactly where she wanted to live -- Rue des Martyrs, in Pigalle near Montmartre.Sciolino explores the history, the lives past and present, the architecture, the businesses, and the atmosphere of her adopted Rue. You can dip into these short chapters in any order. There's no story here, it isn't like A Year in Provence or Under the Tuscan Sun in which the author is trying to be accepted in her new neighborhood or to find love or to find herself. Sciolino is, judging by her own telling of the events, not shy at all about getting to know new people, or asking questions or favors, or offering to do favors or indulging in a bit of matchmaking here and there. It's no wonder she's a successful journalist.The Only Street in Paris is a pleasant stroll through a well-to-do neighborhood and will undoubtedly increase the already sizable tourist population of the Rue des Martyrs. It's already on my short list for places to live as soon as I win the lottery.(Thanks to Edelweiss and W.W. Norton for a digital review copy.)

  • Kbrooke
    2019-04-18 19:18

    A disclaimer: I don't have the requisite distance to properly review this book, having spent five winters living a block away from Rue des Martyrs (albeit on the Montmartre side) in the latter half of the '00s and doing something or other along that street every day. Thus my perspective is too steeped in nostalgia--which Sciolino's book amply indulged. My beloved, now sadly defunct, fishmonger merits an entire chapter; likewise the irrepressible drag-club impresario Michou. Even the ubiquitous guitar-toting, poetry-spouting neighborhood character (whom I came to refer to as Savoir Faire, because he was *everywhere*) makes an extended appearance. I suppose if one has only a clichéd, upmarket, tourist's idea of Paris, life along the sometimes messy, sometimes shabby, always eccentric Rue des Martyrs may come as a surprise--but for me it was just home, for a little while. It's a normal street where normal Parisians--and that includes North and West Africans and various other immigrants--live and go about their business. Actually it's a bit more than a street. It's a village. So if you want a cosmopolitan answer to A Year in Provence, this book probably does the trick. I should also note that I purposefully turned to this volume the day after the ISIS attacks, which hit the arrondissements just to the east of Rue des Martyrs, to comfort myself with memories of happier days and remind myself that Paris endures, and prevails. Sciolino's book did that trick, too.

  • Reilley P
    2019-04-01 18:23

    The Only Street in Paris is a perfect glimpse into a slice of life on the Right Bank. Elaine Sciolino traverses worlds and arrondissements as she takes us on a tour of the Rue des Martyrs. Introduced as "part memoir, part travelogue, part love letter to the people who live and work on a magical street in Paris," Sciolino's book is written from a true journalistic perspective with a lovely personal touch. From the story of a Passover seder with quirky antique owner Guy Lellouche to the search for elusive kale on the streets in Paris, the book introduces readers to the smiling faces, the enticing smells, and the gorgeous sights (the white domes of the Sacré Coeur are ever-present in the background) of a timeless paris street. After reading The Only Street In Paris, don't be surprised if you find yourself aching to lead the life of a flâneur on the Rue des Martyrs.

  • Jessica
    2019-04-18 13:22

    This book makes you want to find an urban neighborhood to settle into and become one. I would just prefer it not be France. Elaine describes the fish monger who taught her how to cook, the book stores for regular folk vs book stores for the intellects and the best place to find 2nd hand designer clothes for bottom basement prices (must find this summer). My favorite bit was when she introduced the concept of potluck with a Portuguese opera singer singing Italian for entertainment.