review book Stylish travel guide to Paris, France: StyleCity Paris Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

StyleCity Paris
Book - Travel

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane

With so many guide books to Paris, it would be easy to dismiss a book like this, which at first glance appears more style than substance. But, having previously found the book from this series on Amsterdam invaluable, we decided to give the Paris version a try.
In fact, it has turned out to be the one of best guide to Paris we've ever used, equally as valuable a resource as its Amsterdam sibling. It's not designed for a traveller who wants to know about the obvious tourist experiences so, if you're a first time visitor with Le Tour Eiffel, Le Louvre and Avenue des Champs Elyseés on your mind, then you'll need more than just this book.
But if you've long ago fallen for Paris and keen to know her better, then this book, with its idiosyncratic collections of places, some iconic and many largely secret, will do you well. Follow this book, for example, and you'll be steered one block away from the famous Deux Magot and Café Flore to La Palette where the coffee is excellent and the patrons are largely local.
Fundamentally it's organised geographically, making it an ideal guide for any planning walks. There are six main areas, each incorporating several arrondissements. For example, one section covers the Latin Quarter, St-Germain-des-Prés and Montparnasse, with a map that extends into the 6th, 5th, 13th and 14th arrondissements. Many Paris guides are divided up by arrondissement but we enjoyed these broader brushstrokes.
Each section begins with a map, followed by series of short entries, each with a beautiful colour photo about the featured place. These include bistros, hotels, shops, cafés, interesting buildings, galleries, museums, even tiny streets. Entries are numbered and easily cross-referenced to and from the map. An ideal way to use it is to mark the places that sound interesting on the map and without even making a decision you'll find a walking route staring you in the face.
It's also very clever in the way it deals with those things we all want to know about – where to sleep, eat, drink and shop. These sections cover the very best of each of these essentials of life – the geographic chapters have many more. However, although these subjects are in separate sections some artful cross-referencing means they also appear in the relevant geographic section, including the map. Swapping between sections takes a little getting used to but it makes the book more flexible - plunge into the geographic sections to give a little structure to your serendipitous walks and rely on the other sections when you want specific information - a recommendation for a serious dinner, for example.
Best of all, though, the descriptions, although short, capture the essence of each recommended establishment. You will know from reading each entry whether it's somewhere you're likely to enjoy and, based on our experiences, when you try somewhere, it's likely to meet your expectations. A beautiful Paris bible.
Publisher: Thames and Hudson
Year: 2003
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