750 Years in Paris by Vincent Mahé

You can find Vincent Mahé’s (aka Mr. Bidon) illustrations all over The New Yorker, including the above illustration of the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C. We picked up one his picture books in Paris this summer. 750 Years In Paris is one of my favorite architectural history books. With 60 large scale illustrations, he tells a wordless story about one lot in Paris from 1265 to 2015. When most of us dream about strolling in Paris, we dream about the iconic Haussmannian buildings, but we forget that it didn’t always look that way. Mahé meticulously draws the changes in fashion, typography, economics, and architecture on each page.

This book answers the simple but often neglected question of how did we get here. It speaks truth by illustrating that progress isn’t always forward. And makes me genuinely curious why the tower is crumbling, there is a hole in the facade, or a parade in the street. It is a book about history, progress, and architecture that sparks your imagination and inspires new ways to play with your blocks. Before your next trip to Paris or chocolate croissant, take some time to absorb this book with your children.

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