Improbable Walks

History Podcasts

Welcome to Improbable Walks, the travel podcast that brings you to the streets of Paris, wherever you are. Every episode, we discover a new street in the City of Light, strolling into the hidden history and stories of Paris, block by block. Your host is Canadian writer and long-time parisienne, Lisa Pasold. To support this podcast, please become a patron at Patreon

Location:

United States

Description:

Welcome to Improbable Walks, the travel podcast that brings you to the streets of Paris, wherever you are. Every episode, we discover a new street in the City of Light, strolling into the hidden history and stories of Paris, block by block. Your host is Canadian writer and long-time parisienne, Lisa Pasold. To support this podcast, please become a patron at Patreon

Language:

English


Episodes

The Insomniac on rue de la Bûcherie

1/29/2023
In this episode, meet the 18th-century insomniac writer & printer, Restif de la Bretonne. Paris is chilly in January, so it seems appropriate to walk along the rue de la Bûcherie, where logs were once unloaded from boats on the Seine, back in the days when Parisians heated their apartments with wood-burning fires. This is the Left Bank street where 20th century icon Simone de Beauvoir wrote some of her greatest work. Plus, here you can visit the famous bookshop, Shakespeare & Company. For a...

Duration:00:15:34

The Defender of Time

12/31/2022
In this episode, I chat with Heather Stimmler about the Quartier de l'Horloge, in the 3rd arrodissement beside the Pompidou Center. We visit restored automaton, admire its music, and discuss whether a breathing dragon would make a reassuring clock... Happy New Year from everyone here at Improbable Walks, and big thanks to Heather! Check out her Secrets of Paris for all sorts of insider news about the City of Light. As always, my website has extra links & images to accompany this podcast....

Duration:00:15:03

The Queen's Flower Market

10/30/2022
Today, let's visit a flower market on Ile de la Cité, right in the middle of Paris. Two good reasons to check this area out now: first, the Marché aux fleurs is due to be renovated, and second, back in 2014, the market was named for Queen Elizabeth II--this is highly unusual, in France. We'll talk about why. We'll also discuss Mad King Louis (or, more respectfully, Louis IX) and raise a glass to Inspector Maigret. Visit my website for images. As always, Improbable Walks is grateful to the...

Duration:00:16:12

The Roman Arena Hiding in Plain Sight

9/17/2022
This Latin Quarter episode begins at Place Émile Mâle and features the strange story of the disappearing Roman arena. We also talk about the discrete author of The Story of O, and the wonderful botanist, Bernard de Jussieu, who is responsible for my all-time favourite tree. This episode wraps up in the lush Jardin des Plantes, where so many Parisians took refuge in the shade during this past excessively hot summer. Remember to visit my website for extra links & images. As always, thanks to...

Duration:00:16:13

Reading the stars on rue Sauval

7/29/2022
Today, we're walking along a small street near the Louvre that's packed with history. Let's talk about Catherine de Medici's personal astrologer, the 1940s Resistance fighters of Les Halles, and talk about successful vaccines of the 1700s. Visit my website for images. I am using a new microphone for this episode - if you have any thoughts about whether it is better or worse than the old one, let me know! (you can contact me through my website) As always, Improbable Walks is grateful to the...

Duration:00:13:14

The Most Famous Avenue in the World

6/29/2022
Today, we're walking along LES CHAMPS ELYSEES, the most famous avenue in the world. From an inclusive coffeeshop to the Guerlain perfume legacy... and most particularly, my favourite steampunk historical fact: in the early 1900s, inventor Alberto Santos-Dumont used to park his dirigible (yes, a flying machine) outside his apartment on the Champs. Visit my website for images. As always, Improbable Walks is grateful to the technical expertise of Bremner Fletcher and to David Symons, the...

Duration:00:14:39

Impressionists in Clichy

5/31/2022
Once upon a time, the Avenue de Clichy was the place to meet the great Impressionist painters. Why? Because this was the location of the famous CAFE GUERBOIS. In this episode, we check out the place where artist Edouard Manet used to buy his paint supplies, learn about Claude Monet's friends (and how they kept him alive), and stroll through the gorgeous little-known park of Batignolles. Visit my website for some images, to give you a better feel for the history here under our feet. As...

Duration:00:16:49

Coffee and Revolution in the Cour du Commerce-de-Saint-André

4/30/2022
Wow, did April ever whoosh past in a blaze of work & sunshine here in Paris! Today, we're walking through a gorgeously historic "passage" near Métro Odéon on the Left Bank--we look at coffee in the 1600s, and brilliant Revolutionaries like the printer Marat and the orator Danton. Visit my website for some images, to give you a better feel for the history here under our feet. As always, Improbable Walks is grateful to the technical expertise of Bremner Fletcher and to David Symons, the New...

Duration:00:15:19

Picasso on the rue des Grands Augustins

2/24/2022
Artists Sonia Delaunay, Robert Delaunay, and Pablo Picasso all lived on this little Left Bank street. Poet Apollinaire stayed here briefly. And King Louis XIII was crowned right here in the road, when he was just a child! The rue des Grands Augustins is a stroll down memory lane for me, because I lived on this street in the late 90s. As always, Improbable Walks is grateful to the technical expertise of Bremner Fletcher and to David Symons, the New Orleans accordion player who performs the...

Duration:00:16:09

Architects of the Modern

1/5/2022
Today's episode walks into a neighbourhood of wonderful Modernist villas in the chic western residential arrondissement of Paris, the 16th. Welcome to the rue Mallet-Stevens, designed by the delightful architect, Robert Mallet-Stevens (who I refer to as "RMS" during the podcast, because his name is such a mouthful.) RMS is undeservedly forgotten, unlike his contemporary, Le Corbusier--whose Fondation runs two villas just a few minutes' walk from the rue Mallet-Stevens. So we get to visit...

Duration:00:13:32

Bertie's Belle Epoque (King Edward VII in Paris)

11/29/2021
Today's episode explores the beautiful hidden courtyards of Place Edouard VII, near the Opera Garnier in Paris. We'll talk about the Fragonard Perfume Museum, the gorgeous Athenée Théatre Louis-Jouvet, and we'll discuss why Bertie--Queen Victoria's heir, Edward VII--really preferred the city of Paris. We'll also talk about why I believe Bertie should be commemorated wearing a smoking jacket, not a military uniform. Visit my website for extra links & images. Improbable Walks is grateful to...

Duration:00:18:00

Village Suisse & the Fields of Mars

11/1/2021
Today's episode walks into the strange history of the Village Suisse. We'll talk about the great battle on the Champs de Mars between the Romans and the Gauls (spoiler alert: local tribe, the Parisi, lost against the colonizing war machine of Caesar.) We'll remember Napoleon Bonaparte when he was just a scared teenager, reading to avoid bullies; and we'll talk about a giant ferris wheel, that eventually became a place to browse through history--because today the Village Suisse is an antiques...

Duration:00:15:15

Volatile rue Vivienne

9/18/2021
This episode features remarkable Montrealer, the soldier-conman Jean-Baptiste LeMoyne, Sieur de Bienville, along with two 19th-century inventors AND a moody proto-surrealist... all crammed into a few small blocks of the rue Vivienne. Meet the founder of New Orleans; discover one of the very earliest sound recordings, made by Scott de Martinville; meet the inventor of the dentist drill (um... Eureka?); and enjoy an angsty moment with the author of the "Contes de Maldoror." Remember to visit...

Duration:00:14:46

Dance, scandal & spectacle (Ave Montaigne & Pont de l'Alma)

6/29/2021
This episode starts out on a bridge with a view of the Eiffel Tower, then heads over to the Right Bank and glamorous Avenue Montaigne. We'll talk about the Zouave & river flooding, Diana Princess of Wales, the Ballets Russes, and Josephine Baker, star & secret agent. Remember to visit my website for extra links & images. As always, Improbable Walks theme music is performed by David Symons, New Orleans accordionist extraordinaire.

Duration:00:19:10

Books & Ice Cream, rue SAINT-BENOIT

5/6/2021
Welcome to the very short Left Bank street of Saint-Benoît, which runs from Blvd Saint-Germain to rue Jacob. This episode is mostly dedicated to writers (whose names I attempt to pronounce correctly & rather radically fail at doing) - including Apollinaire, Taras Shevchenko, Marguerite Duras and Ted Joans, plus two literary cafés, two beloved bookshops... and one of my favourite ice cream desserts. Remember to visit my website for extra links & images. As always, Improbable Walks theme...

Duration:00:18:05

Street art & Dalida on the rue d'Orchampt

3/18/2021
In this episode, we walk down one of my favourite shortcuts through Montmartre, which goes past the former house of tragic Italian-Egyptian pop diva, Dalida. I talk about the atmosphere at the famous Bateau Lavoir, around the corner--where Picasso painted Gertrude Stein's portrait, Marie Laurencin painted Apollinaire's, and Cubism was launched on the world. What's more, the first crook of this elbow-shaped little route is always covered in colourful street art. Remember to visit my website...

Duration:00:12:20

Tiny theatrical rue MOLIERE

1/14/2021
I'm posting this walk on Molière's birthday, January 15th (well, the day he was baptized--he may have been born a few days earlier.) We’ll step into the era of the Sun King to talk about the famous French playwright. Molière lived a rather short, exceedingly busy theatrical life (1622 - 1673.) We'll also talk about a dressmaker who worked in this same small street: Madame du Creux designed “robes de chambre” for aristocrats—which means some very elegant 17th-century Haute Couture was sewn...

Duration:00:12:20

Shopping on rue Mouffetard

12/22/2020
In this special new year's episode, I chat with my friend Heather Stimmler, founder of Secrets of Paris. Heather's favourite market street is the rue Mouffetard, a street which goes back to Roman times. This is the neighbourhood described in the first pages of Ernest Hemingway's classic A Moveable Feast--this is where he bought clementines and chestnuts to eat while he wrote. Heather and I talk about bread, beer, and butchers, walking from the Place Conte-Escarpe down the street to...

Duration:00:17:37

Rue de l'ODEON

11/16/2020
In this episode, we'll stroll down one of the most literary streets on the Left Bank--where Sylvia Beach once ran Shakespeare & Co, opposite Adrienne Monnier's La Maison des Amis des Livres. We'll talk about Hemingway, Janet Flanner, James Joyce, and other friends of the bookshops.

Duration:00:13:17

Marie Curie on Ile Saint-Louis

10/29/2020
In this episode, we walk along two beautiful quays on Ile Saint-Louis, and visit the address of not one but two Nobel Prize winners! I get to talk about one of my heroines, Marie Curie, and I hypothesize about ghostly conversations in the Pantheon... As always, Improbable Walks theme music is performed by David Symons, New Orleans accordionist extraordinaire.

Duration:00:14:41