105 of 105 people found the following review helpful
Excellent (second) guide to Paris,
This review is from: Parisians' Paris (Paperback)
The first thing one needs to know is that this is not a guidebook to Paris in the traditional sense of the word. It does not recommend specific street walks or guide you to visit any of the well known touristic attractions. In fact it sort of steers you away from them, guides you to move next to them, away from them, rather than towards them. You will find yourself walking in a certain direction, then you look behind you and realize that you are moving away from the Eiffel Tower, for example.
What this book is is a very thorough listing of a large number of aspects of Paris that would normally escape the visitor who by definition does not know the city very well. The author of this book, on the other hand, knows Paris very well.
I highly appreciated the recommendations for visiting certain quartiers that are out of the well-trodden tourist path (that I seem to have walked over and over again every time that I have visited Paris in the past), the specific recommendations for unusual, hidden places for breakfast, bistros and brasseries that are known only to locals, the unique, unusual shops, icecream parlors, very interesting but unknown museums, etc. None of these are easily found unless one really knows one's way in Paris very well.
But, for all of the above reasons, it is also not a book for a first time visitor to Paris, or at least, cannot be the only book used by a first time visitor who definitely has to see the 20 or so major attractions. In my opinion, a regular guide, such as DK Eyewitness, together with this book would make an ideal combination.
Another important practical point is that the book is fully packed with information, much more than one can tell from its size. This is because it mainly consists of lists upon lists of recommendations, with very short synopses of explanations. Hence I recommend acquiring this book well in advance of a visit to Paris, then using it to plan a trip well before going there.
What happens is that there is so much to do in Paris that planning what to do the night before doing it takes too much valuable time. One year of dedicated walks around Paris will not suffice to cover all the spots that this book recommends. One will have to choose and concentrate on certain neighbourhoods, certain aspects of the city and get to know them very well.
Read the book in advance, decide on where you want to go then use the book as a referesher during your trip. Enjoy your trip.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 12, 2012 3:21:51 PM PDT
James Ellsworth says:
Thanks for a great review. I feel that I know this book better, now. While I have been visiting Paris--with long gaps between visits--for thirty-some years, I am still a candidate for an intimate, detailed view of the city. When I visit with my wife, we always stay in the rue Cler area since it is a true neighborhood and is also close to many sights and museums. I have stayed in Monmartre and the Marais. I find myself wondering what else there might be that I could enjoy while revisiting my favorites. This book of lists might provide the answer. In your view, does it?
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 29, 2012 8:05:11 PM PST
Gillham's book recommends places to stay in about 15 different arrondisements, so you still have to choose.
Personally, I always stay in the 5th, close to the rue St Jacques (where pilgrims have walked since medieval times on their way from Paris to Santiago de Compostela) and the J du L (where almost anyone who contributed to Western civilization over the past 200 years must have walked and sat around). It's walking distance from there to 4th and 6th, and slightly a bit more to the rest of the inner arrondisements. It's also a good idea to be close to a RER B station.
I also wish to take the opportunity to recoomend the following two books.
Paris Was Ours
which I think you may like. The 32 essays were mostly written by Americans who started going to Paris 30 to 40 years ago, as in your case and mine, and
Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light
which is written by the very literate David Downie who has spent a good part of his day, every day over the past 25 years, observing Paris.
All the best.
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