What The Visitor Center Never Told Me About In Paris

I jammed a lot of tourist sites into the four days I spent a Paris but there was one extravagant site I missed that the travel bureaus never told me about - probably because they knew nothing about this unique option.

And that is to take a boat tour of Paris at night and view the stunning beauty of the 35 bridges that cross the Seine. I did get a wonderful glimpse of the bridges of Paris at night back home, though, when I acquired and flipped through the pages of "The Glow of Paris: The Bridges of Paris at Night" by Gary Zuercher.

After over-exposing a shot by accident, Zuercher discovered the beauty of the flow of lights on the bridges against the dark background of Paris at night. After this discovery he spent the next five years shooting all 35 bridges of Paris, from midnight to 2-3 a.m. when there was little traffic and few pedestrians to interfere with his work. The results are absolutely amazing.

But Zuercher went even further by researching the history of the bridges and offering a fascinating narrative of each bridge, some of which were crossed by Julius Caesar. I learned that they used to construct houses and shops on the bridges in the middle ages. Another bridge used to host a festival with acrobats, fire-eaters and musicians, even "tooth pullers." Another bridge had a money-changing booth on one end. And another was hit by a jet fighter plane, killing four French Air Force pilots. Absolutely fascinating stuff.

Over a period of five years, Zuercher took his cameras out into the Parisian night to capture stunningly evocative images of the bridges that span the Seine. Using his artistic eye and sophisticated photographic technique, he created these glorious black-and- white photographs, rich with detail and possessing a clear, luminous quality.

No one else has ever photographed all the bridges that cross the Seine in Paris in this way. We don't see crowds of people or heavy traffic. Nothing obscures the beauty and strength of the structures, the romance and symbolism of the bridges. Shooting in black and white allows the details to shine: the architectural elements, artwork, nearby buildings, trees on the riverbanks, and starry lamps casting paths of light across the water.

He divides his time between homes in Paris and Washington, DC with his wife Dominique who is French.

I got the book just to display on my coffee table but I started reading it and couldn't put it down. So much goo information on the bridges and Paris's history that it is much, much more than a cocktail table book. I highly recommend this book, but don't just put it in the living room for display but read and enjoy every page!