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Bridges of Paris

by Michael Saint James

Book Review

book cover

ABOVE: Bridges of Paris is a large-format book with more than 350 color photos of Paris and its 37 bridges, plus descriptions of the individual bridges and their histories.

I'm not given to gushing, nor do I dispense superlatives easily, but let me say this:

  • If you're looking for a coffeetable book to present as a gift or keep as a souvenir, you're unlikely to go wrong with The Bridges of Paris by Michael Saint James.

Here's how the book's publicist described the process behind the book:

"Living as a Parisian for a year in a fifth-floor walkup apartment, photojournalist Michael Saint James left his American lifestyle behind and spent his days and nights capturing images from over, on, beside, and under the bridges of Paris. With over 30 years' experience as a photographer, educator, and world traveler, Saint James immersed himself in French culture to search out his authentic artist soul and bring back a treasure to share. The result is a visual feast and the intimate story of the world's most romantic city."

The Bridges of Paris contains 280 pages, each measuring 14 by 9.5 inches (35.5 x 24 cm). It's divided into four main sections:

  • Island Bridges, such as the Pont Neuf and the Pont Saint-Michel.

  • Palace Bridges, such as the Pont des Arts, the Pont Royal, and the Pont de l'Alma.

  • Downstream Bridges, including Pont de Grenelle and the Pont de Bir-Hakeim.

  • Upstream Bridges, including the Pont de Bercy, the Passerelle Simone-de-Beauvoir, and the Viaduc d'Austerlitz.

Each of the 37 bridges has several pages of photos, along with an introduction that describes the bridge and its history. What's more, the photos aren't static, boring architectural shots: Some are dramatic two-page spreads with nearby landmarks, some show details that Parisians and visitors often miss, and others are "people shots" that capture the ambiance of the bridges and their surrounding neighborhoods.

As a bonus, The Bridges of Paris includes a personal introduction ("A Photographer's Perspective"), maps of Paris, and a bibliography.

Sample pages from The Bridges of Paris:

The Bridges of Paris is too large for most flatbed scanners, so we snapped several pictures of the book's text and photo spreads with a digital camera to give you an idea of what's inside: