The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier

This charming memoir (304 pages) was published in March of 2002 by Random House. The book takes you to a Paris neighborhood. Melissa read The Piano Shop on the Left Bank and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.

buy is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.


The Piano Shop on the Left Bank

Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier

Thad Carhart

How does an American move past the chilly barriers in his French neighborhood to become part of the community? He plays the piano, n’est-ce pas.

Tucked into a cozy, shop-lined street on the Left Bank in Paris is the alluring and mysterious ‘Desforges Pianos: outillage, fournitures.’ When Thad Carhart enquires at the shop about buying a used piano, he’s unceremoniously shuffled out the front door by a man who appeared through a mysterious door at the back. The author returns several times before finally getting a personal introduction and being welcomed into the holy of holies: the backroom stocked with pianos in all stages of their lives.

He cultivates a friendship with Luc, the piano restorer, through their shared love of the instrument and its history. And this slowly unfolding memoir traces their relationship in parallel with the storied past of the piano. Carhart takes us deep into the piano’s development and mechanics with chapters on how the instrument is made and how it’s tuned. But there are personal reflections, too, as he recalls his childhood in Paris, begins piano lessons anew, and welcomes the piano that’s stolen his heart into his small Paris apartment.

This is a tender book, its narrative moving back and forth in time and capturing distinctive moments; it’s like flipping through a scrapbook that contains personal photos and other remarkable and ordinary snippets of memory. Carhart is a keen observer, and his prose will transport you immediately to the Paris streets he loves so well. It’s a treat to get an intimate look inside the spaces where tourists and expats are often excluded.

Warning: You’ll be tempted to think that a piano might be just the thing you need in your life, and you might be right.

Motionless, he held the final chord for a long moment, and we felt — I could almost say watched — the harmony rise into the light-filled cold of the atelier. — Thad Carhart

keep reading

We've said it before, but it bears repeating: Paris is always a good idea. That's why we're recommending 13 books that are like a magic portal to Paris. Wouldn't you enjoy a virtual trip to the city by the Seine?

sharing is caring!

Wanna help us spread the word? If you like this page, please share with your friends.

our mission

Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.

our patreon

Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.

get our newsletter

Join our Substack to get our FREE newsletter with podcast updates and behind-the-scenes info join in fun chats about books and travel.

no spoilers. ever.

We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.

super-cool reading fun
reading atlas

This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.

get our newsletter
Sign up for our free Substack!
follow us

Content on this site is ©2024 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.