Nairn's Paris

Ian Nairn (Author) Andrew Hussey (Introduction by)


50th Anniversary of original publication; this is a unique Paris guidebook from the late, great, architecture and travel writer Ian Nairn.

Illustrated with the author's black and white snaps of the city, Nairn shows his eye for detail - whether it is stonework on an archway, shadows cast by a railing, or an empty chair in a Paris park, in this book which celebrates the City of Light. Nairn's Paris captures the city on the cusp of great changes and provides a glimpse of a city that is about to disappear. Here is an idiosyncratic and unpretentious portrait of the 'collective masterpiece' that is Paris.

Introduced by writer and BBC presenter Andrew Hussey, author of the popular Paris: The Secret History.

'About one third of the book is discovery, in the sense that I came upon the sites by accident or by following a topographical hunch. There must be many more, and all you need for the search is the ability to turn off the main road, switch on your antennae and respond. Good luck.' - Ian Nairn

Product Details

Notting Hill Editions
Publish Date
April 10, 2018
4.8 X 0.7 X 7.7 inches | 0.55 pounds
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About the Author

Ian Douglas Nairn (1930-1983) was a British architectural critic and topographer. He coined the term 'subtopia' for the areas around cities that had, in his view, been failed by urban planning, losing their individuality and spirit of place. In the 1960s he published Nairn's London and Nairn's Paris, as well as presenting several BBC TV series. His work has influenced writers as diverse as J. G. Ballard, Will Self, Iain Sinclair and Patrick Wright.

Andrew Hussey is Professor of Cultural History in the School of Advanced Study, University of London. He is a regular contributor to the Guardian and the New Statesman and the writer/presenter of several documentaries for BBC TV, BBC Radio 4 and Channel 4. He is the author of The Game of War: The Life and Death of Guy Debord (2001), Paris: The Secret History (2006) and The French Intifada: The Long War Between France and its Arabs. He was awarded an OBE in 2011 for his services to cultural relations between France and the UK.


"You could see that Nairn was made of equal parts of amiability and disagreeableness, that he could swoon, but only over the very finest things; that he could take joy in the most ordinary streetscape if it could be shown to make daily life better; and that he could always be counted on to prefer the work of an eccentric genius like Nicholas Hawksmoor over that of a sane and rational architect like Christopher Wren." --Paul Goldberger, "Books Every Architect Should Read"

"It's not easy to pigeonhole the late English writer Ian Nairn. But after reading his work you might rightly decide that there's no need to do so. His rubric doesn't matter because, whatever kind of writer he is, he follows his own meandering counsel, and the results are consistently brilliant." -- James McWilliams, The Millions

"To call Ian Nairn a great architectural writer is too restrictive; he was a great writer who happened to write about buildings and places....Cities change, but the quality of Nairn's writing will always hold. He will take you to unexpected places, make you look at the familiar anew, or at least poke you into thinking about them again."-- N. J. McGarrigle, The Irish Times

"As a guide to central Paris it would mostly still serve quite well." --Ian Brunskill, TLS, August 4, 2017

"In Nairn's Paris the City of Light gets the flâneur it deserves: passionate, bilious, eloquently melancholy. This welcome and overdue re-issue compliments his masterpiece Nairn's London, confirming his status as our best topographical writer. At his best he has no equal. --David Collard

Once you discover [Nairn] you want to read everything he's written. --The Daily Telegraph