The modern version of the French capital certainly has its charms, but there's something especially magical about the Paris that emerges from old black and white photography. This spring is a boon time for fans of vintage photographs of Paris, with a host of exhibitions, plus a couple of new websites for the desk-chair dreamers out there.
Springtime exhibitions of Paris photography
Paris Inondé (through March 28). The French capital was half-drowned by a major flood in 1910. Spectacular images from this hundred-year-old event show the Eiffel Tower up to her knees in water, with rowboats paddling down the major avenues. Open from 1 p.m.–7 p.m., Tuesday–Sunday, and until 9 p.m. on Thursday. $6. Galerie des Bibliothèques, 22 rue Malher in the 4th arrondissement, inondation1910.paris.fr
Elliott Erwitt, "Personal Best" (through April 4). This Paris-born photographer documented some of the most significant events of the 20th century. A member of Magnum Photos and sharp observer of everyday life, Erwitt has been described as a "tireless wit, a subtle and poetic humorist whose work combines satire and melancholy." Open every day except Monday and Tuesday from 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Admission is normally $9, but you can go for free every Wednesday from 5 p.m.–8 p.m. Maison Européenne de la Photographie, 5/7 rue de Fourcy in the 4th arrondissement. mep-fr.org/us
Izis: Paris des Rêves (through May 29). Izraëlis Bidermanas (Izis) was a core member of the humanist movement in photography, along with his more famous friends Robert Doisneau and Henri Cartier-Bresson. This major retrospective pays tribute to the overlooked photographer and his Paris work, which is described as "a paean to dreams and to the slow pace of life at the heart of a city which he endowed with legendary qualities." Open every day except Sunday from 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Admission is free. Hôtel de Ville (Salle St-Jean), 5 rue de Lobau in the 4th arrondissement. See the Izis website
Great photography websites for arm (or desk) chair travelers
Paris Inondé: Surf more than 1300 images from this Web gallery inondation1910.paris.fr.
Paris en Images from the Ministry of Culture: This is a new and free online collection of more than 25,000 photos of Paris. You can search by keyword, year, and location at parisenimages.fr/en