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Cara Black’s Secrets of Paris

San Francisco-based mystery writer Cara Black is known for her “Aimée Leduc Investigation” series set in Paris, including Murder in the Marais, Murder in the Palais Royal, Murder in the Latin Quarter, Murder in Passy, and the latest release, Murder at the Lanterne Rouge, set in the tiny Chinatown on the edge of the Marais. She’s become a veritable guide to murder in Paris! Since Cara spends a lot of time sniffing around the lesser-known areas of the city for research, I asked if she could share her own favorite Secrets of Paris.

Cara Black, photo by Laura Skayhan

Bibliotheque Mazarine
21 quai de Conti, 6th

“Because it’s incredible, lined with books, old leather bound volumes, old winding narrow library stairs reaching to a walkway that rings the ceiling with murals, hidden spaces behind the bookshelves, the quiet and rustling of pages. It’s also open to the public, unlike some French libraries, and a day use card very easy to obtain. I often go for research on my books and stay for hours.”

Rue Meslay
Metro Temple or Republique, 10th

“Drop into any of the crammed designer markdown shoe shops lining this street at the edge of the Marais below Republique. What more needs to be said – go there ladies. In Murder at the Lanterne Rouge, Aimée casts a longing eye at the stairs, ‘the stairway to heaven’ as her friend Martine refers to it, from rue Notre Dame de Nazareth leading to rue Meslay.”

Musée des Moulage de l’Hôpital Saint-Louis
1 avenue Claude-Vellefaux 10th
Open by appointment, tel 01 42 49 99 15

“Founded in 1867 in the seventeenth century Hôpital Saint Louis originally built for plague victims, this dermatological museum houses the wax castings of skin diseases. It’s creepy, weird and out of the last century. To understand and illustrate for his medical students, a doctor commissioned a fruit seller in the Passage Jouffrey who sculpted wax fruits to show his wares, to sculpt human appendages. In my book Murder in the Bastille, Aimée’s partner René visits a doctor in the museum.”

Maison des Métallos
94 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 11th

“Built in the 19th century for workers ‘ouvriers’ who filled the quartier and now a thriving hub of dance, theatre and literary discussion and conferences. This center radiates the spirit of the old worker’s roots and today’s modern community.”

Du Pain et des Idées
34 rue Yves Toudic, 10th

“A boulangerie close to Canal Saint Martin – the baker at last check in still used a wood burning over for his baking…and old artisanal style.”

Parc Montsouris
RER Cité Universitaire, 14th

“A English garden style near the reservoir with a lake, odd sculptures and where local Parisians go on Sundays with their families…just very local and Parisian. The meridian line of Paris pierces it and its great green space. Walk up to Impasse Nansouty at the very tip near the tram on Boulevard Jourdan. You’ll think you’re in the French countryside…a street of houses built for soldiers wounded war victims and their families after the Great War. Henry Miller and Anais Nin, Braque, Lawrence Durrell all lived nearby.”

Didiers Crêpes
3bis rue Carpeaux, 18th

“Run by Didier from Brittany, the lace curtains, light blue storefront, a pet rabbit for years, grows a lot of his produce in his plot outside Paris…ambiance and locals.”

Cara’s new book Murder at the Lanterne Rouge takes place in the oldest and smallest of the four Chinatowns in Paris at the edge of the Marais. www.carablack.com


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