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Parks and Gardens in Greater Paris

paris parksFor over 350 years Parisians have designed and preserved phenomenal public outdoor spaces.  In this book Jacqueline Widmar Stewart follows the fine-spun threads of the parklands tapestry in greater Paris.  Identification of various hallmarks of premiere park-building eras imbues individual parks with multi-dimensional qualities and allows readers to experience these grand green places in the way Parisians do.

Longtime masters of merging beauty and function, innovative French visionaries have led the way in crafting enchanting settings conducive to contemplation as well as vigorous activities.  Since the Tuileries first opened its doors to the public in 1667, and the forests of Fontainebleau became a nationally protected treasure in 1861, greater Paris has excelled in creating sublime natural spaces while fostering appreciation of arts and sciences.

Multiple layers of elements and themes are woven into the fabric of French parks. Reaching back as far as its Roman heritage, vestiges of the history of Paris are apparent in virtually all its parks, regardless of size.  Even the balanced distribution of green spaces throughout the city reflects a major 19th century city-planning epoch and is still carried forward in current park development.

A number of French parks and gardens from the 17th century initially belonged to royal estates but now welcome public visits – it should be noted that the Tuileries first opened its gates to the public in 1667.  Thoughtfully designed and meticulously tailored to needs of the time, others have covered unsightly urban blight with splendor, and have converted industrial sites to recreational usage while maintaining cultural ties with the past.  Many marvels beckon all who enter Paris’ magical spheres:  a several-kilometer-long landscaped promenade above busy streets; a modern garden suspended above a major train station; the Parc de la Villette with its grand red architectural curiosities of form and motion; a mid-island allée in the Seine; newly created marshlands now home to mallard ducklings; clouds of fragrance from rose-descendants of Josephine Bonaparte’s original collection; not one, but two gardens of the quintessential French sculptor, Auguste Rodin.

Since high school days in Indiana, French language and literature have held a fascination for Jacqueline Widmar Stewart, who studied at the University of Colorado as an undergraduate and gained her Master of Arts degree in French at the University of Michigan – and finally studied law at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.
Her first book, The Glaciers’ Treasure Trove:  A Field Guide to the Lake Michigan Riviera, delves into the geologic and philanthropic histories of five parks at the southern tip of Lake Michigan near Chicago, especially the little-known Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.  Her second book, Finding Slovenia:  A Guide to Old Europe’s New Country, published in Ljubljana, showcases the natural wonders of her grandparents’ native land.

$78.00 hardback, 192 pp. with 200 illustrations, ISBN 978-3-936681-51-2

Published by Axel Menges Download the catalog page.

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finding slovenia

sloveniaA firsthand account from the third generation.  Finding Slovenia draws upon the author’s own experience and study as well as a long familiarity with the country.   Designed to provide the reader with an appreciation for the history, culture and landscape of a land that has been at the crossroads of time for the past 60,000 years, the book also gives the reader practical advice for hiking the Alps, rejuvenating at thermal spas, finding local specialties and planning castle-stays.  Learning intertwines with enjoyment.

Jacqueline Stewart’s view in the upcoming Slovenia book is that of a native granddaughter.  All four of the author’s grandparents emigrated from the Slovenian section of Yugoslavia at the turn of the 20th century, but it was not until 1967 that she returned to their homeland.  Two years later she spent a year at the University in Ljubljana to study the Slovenian language.  Since then she has returned regularly, watching the country gain its independence in 1991, entry to the European Union in 2004, and assuming EU leadership in 2008. 

The book has been published by Slovenia’s largest publishing company.  Mladinska knjiga.  Although the country of Slovenia publishes about three times the number of books per capita as the US, this will be their first book published in English that is written by a native English speaker.  Most books published in Slovenia are translations, of high quality and low volume. 

$29.95 hardback, 182 pages in length, replete with color photos and spotting maps, ISBN: 978-961-01-0851-1

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The Glaciers' Treasure Trove
A Field Guide to the Lake Michigan Riviera

book jacket"For those not acquainted with the lake's southeastern Crescent Coast and its dune lands, this book will indeed be a revelation."—The Carmel Pine Cone

"This is a wonderful book, and I highly recommend it to both the newcomer and the established resident of the Dunes."—Morton F. Arnsdorf. M.D.

Explore the 42-mile stretch of glacially formed, quartz-sand beaches on the Crescent Coast with a handy book that will add rich detail to your enjoyment.  Full of color photos and spotting maps, this guide to the five parks along Lake Michigan’s southern shores will show you where to find the birthplace of ecology, and why a stroll on these sandy beaches means a walk through millions of years of history.

ISBN: 0-9727484-7-4