Sunday 23 December 2012

Top Five Posts of 2012

In a now traditional feature – that everyone waits for with much anticipation – here is the list of the top five most-read posts this year. Next week I will publish a similar feature listing my personal top five posts (which strangely enough are not the same).

As was the case last year, rather than just simply present the top 5 posts I have also added a few notes to explain why I picked the subject, why I think it was popular, and how the story has developed since.

Finally, I’d like to thank you all for visiting the site this year and for reading the posts! 

5: The Paris Archives: Poisonous shoes
I often try to create regular new features on this blog, and I am pleased that this particular one found an audience. The idea came when I stumbled across the Gallica website, which contains digital archives of the French press going back over 150 years, whilst doing some research. By chance, I noticed a rather incredible story of a doctor shooting himself in a Paris cinema whilst watching his ex-lover on screen - and thought I had to feature it on the blog. It then struck me that these newspapers would be full of such stories, but the reality is not that simple.

The difficulty is selecting - and finding - themes that tell us something about Paris in that particular period. The vast majority of stories on Paris reported in the press seem to be about murder, suicide or gruesome accidents, but occasionally I find something a little stranger...such as poisonous shoes, and then the time spent sifting through these newspapers seems worthwhile again!

4: Urban exploration in Pantin

Partnerships are important for a blog, and it was an honour for me to be asked to join the Guardian newspaper’s community of travel bloggers (even if I don’t consider that Invisible Paris is in any way a travel blog).

Since signing up (and I literally did have to sign a contract), the trick has been to find subjects that could potentially be of interest to visitors to Paris - and to respect the basic premise of this blog. This article on an extraordinary building in Pantin - the first to be republished in The Guardian - was one successful example.

Although it is rewarding to see my posts published in the online version of The Guardian, it doesn't actually bring much else to the blog. As the articles are reprinted in their entirety, there is no reason for people to click through to Invisible Paris, so it doesn't generate much in the way of audience. And of course, no-one in this community is paid anything!

3: The Story of the Oldest Tree in Paris

I began working on this post after a reader asked me for confirmation that there existed a living tree in the city that dated back to the 17th century. It was not difficult to find information about this tree online as it has been featured on several other blogs, but for me there is no interest in just quoting a fact and posting a picture. 

I wanted to tell the story of the tree - why it was planted and who put it there - and how it has managed to survive for so long. It's position in the city - on an ancient fork in the road - also seemed significant, and I was also happy to find out what is the city's second oldest tree! Finally, the fact that it only survives today thanks to concrete supports (which have been disguised as trunks and branches) was also worthy of mention.

2: Counter-Tourism at Notre Dame

When deciding which subjects to feature on this blog, I particularly enjoy interacting with others and taking ideas that come completely from elsewhere. I had already previously interviewed Phil Smith after the publication of his previous book, and was very happy to discover his latest work - Counter Tourism.

Although Phil clearly has in mind a very English environment, I immediately thought that much of it could also apply to Paris - the world's most visited city, and a city that uses its heritage to sell itself. The question though was which site should I pick? It could have been the Louvre - particularly the underground shopping centre - or the whole of Montmartre, but I eventually picked Notre Dame, partly because it was a place I very rarely visit myself.

Quite a few visitors to this post came from a recommendation on Reddit, but I was also amused to see that there were several criticisms of the post - and the idea of Counter Tourism - on that site. One stated "I'm not sure if this person 'gets' tourism", which is probably a very fair remark!

1: The Rue de Lota: the house where Mitt lived

Although this blog, by its nature, concentrates largely on architecture and history, it is always more interesting if I can somehow stitch in some current affairs! I'd read an article about Mitt Romney's time in Paris as a mormon, but although the house he lived in was a key part of the story, there were no photographs. I decided to go and have a look myself, and discovered quite an impressive building. Putting these visuals online obviously helped to spread the message - on one day in August I had over 8,000 visits in one hour, all stemming from some influential anti-Romney source on Facebook and Twitter!

I'm not an American though, and was not really interested in making a political message with this post (although like most Europeans I'm happy that Romney didn't win the Presidential race). I thought that the house itself also had an interesting story to tell, especially as it had originally been built for another American family.

Finally, I'm happy that this story finished at the top because it was also the first 'twin post' I did with Invisible Bordeaux, the first Invisible city spin-off! It's still an ambition of mine to have a network of invisible city blogs around the world, for mutual inspiration and also to work on cross-city themes such as this one. If anyone is looking to start up a city blog in 2013, get in touch with me first!


Thérèse said...

How fun to read your post today. I looking forward to follow more of your adventures in 2013.

Thérèse said...

Have a fun end of the year and Happy Holidays!

Richard said...

Great blog - I'll be back to check what you get up to in 2013;


Adam said...

Thérèse: thanks, and best wishes to you for 2013.

Richard: thanks. The photos on your website are fantastic by the way.

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