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Parisians' Paris Paperback – June 1, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A very useful [guide], for Gillham's opinions are curatorial . . . don't leave home without it."  —headbutler.com --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Bill Gillham first went to Paris more than fifty years ago. He is an academic and child psychologist and has written almost a hundred books, most of them for children.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Pallas Athene; New edition edition (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1873429819
  • ISBN-13: 978-1873429815
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.6 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,267,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jesse Kornbluth on November 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
We have all read a zillion guidebooks directing us to the best stuff, the special stuff, even the secret stuff in Paris, and if we're jaded, we can hardly be blamed.

The best Paris? Special Paris? Secret Paris? Really? You think?

It's a great relief, therefore, to stumble upon a book about Paris that begins like this: "Paris can be a surprisingly disappointing experience."

The problem: travelers have limited time, so they try to do too much. In search of the full picture, they see nothing.

Better, suggests Bill Gillham, an English academic and child psychologist who has made dozens of trips to Paris, to see less --- that is, to make a visit that's locally based.

How?

Choose "one of the many village-like communities that make up the city," then venture out occasionally to the major sights.

What a radical idea. Don't visit Paris. Live there.

Gillman's prose is consistently tart.

"From mid-July to the end of August there is a mass exodus of those who live in Paris when their city is given over to tourists who know no better."

"One of the worst things about Paris in high summer is that the nights are not particularly cooler than the days."

"To be avoided are single rooms, as these are always the worst and often intolerably small....only very good friends should share a room."

"There are a number of guides to Paris shops, usually written by women who see shopping as an exclusively female occupation."

In restaurants, "it is common practice to offer the worst tables first, especially to tourists."

See what I mean? For once, you're not getting an even-handed guide.
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Format: 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.
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This special book has more information about Paris than I have ever found in one place. It is divided into geographical "quartiers" on right and left banks. Information on these is divided into principal sights, quiet hotels, places for breakfast, public gardens, markets, food stores, neglected museums, interesting shops, bistros and brasseries. You could spend a whole day or two in each "quartier" if you wished and still have more to see. It is soft back but not "pocket size" unless you have a large pocket. Color and black and white photographs are sprinkled through this lovely book. The introduction explains everything and has lots of "hints" to make your visit very special - and to avoid any mistakes or misunderstandings with the locals. A real treasure.
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Enen though I have been fortunate enough to have traveled to Paris many times Parisian's Paris told me of places to put on my "to do list" for my next magical trip. This book is definitely worth reading for those on their first trip to Paris or one of many.
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This little book proved our most useful guide book. I'd been to Paris before, and stuff is so well labeled it's hard to miss places like the Louvre and Moulin Rouge and Arc de Triomphe, the internet at the hotel helped us find all the rest. But the Magic Museum, that was an afternoon of delight nestled on a completely overlookable street in a bustling neighborhood that we never would have found. Absolutely wonderful. Neighborhood bistros and wine bars and brasseries descriptions were all dead on and helpful. I think there was one that was closed, but we found a suitable substitute around a corner.

The fifth star is missing because he assumed the only breakfast one would want to eat is croissants and coffee. Very french, very lovely for those who can, but a book for tourists that recognizes the benefits of a good sleep (so rare!) should likewise recognize the benefits of a morning fuel that allows a non-French engine to purr all day. For my gluten-free, dairy free husband, that was the ubiquitous omelet nature. Just as easy to find as croissants in the morning, but not in all the same places. Perhaps that's terribly American of him, rest assured I made up for it in my croissant adoration and consumption. A bow to the possibility that croissants and bread may not be the only breakfasts one could want would have given this very helpful book its fifth star.
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