“Who needs yet another Paris travel guide?” a cynical publisher once said to us after inspecting several shelves full of Paris guides in a bookshop. Well, most of the millions of people who visit Paris every year need a good and up-to-date guidebook - and this Frommer’s 2012 guide is certainly both of those things. And despite the upsurge in ebooks and Kindles and iPads and smart phones, the printed guide still usually comes out top when serving the needs of tourists tramping the streets.
One aspect of a guide that at the moment still works better on paper is mapping. For all the advantages that electronic guides ought to have - and maybe will have in the future - the printed map is still more convenient, needs no batteries or internet connection, and can be folded and written on if you want to.
This Frommer’s guide is full of maps, including a pull-out pocket map to the whole city. Throughout the book there are another 41 colour maps that are clear and printed on good paper. There’s also an overview city map on the inside front cover, and the essential map of the Métro at the back. The maps in the book include three walking tours, seven maps showing locations for the recommended hotels, and no fewer than ten maps to help you find the restaurants are reviewed. Someone definitely got their priorities right in planning that - dining in Paris is one of the highlights of a city visit, whether it be at a Michelin-rated restaurant or an inexpensive bistro or brasserie. Paris caters for all palates and all pockets.
The Paris restaurant reviews in this Frommer’s guide should be good, as the two authors of that section specialise in food writing, including Meg Zimbeck who is the Founding Editor of the Paris by Mouth website. Barbra Austin is the Assistant Editor of Paris by Mouth, and is a pastry chef as well as a food writer. There are almost sixty pages of restaurant reviews, covering the entire city and ranging from bakeries and crêperies to the famous names such as Guy Savoy and Joël Robuchon, though surprisingly only a passing mention for superchef Alain Ducasse in the review of the Plaza Athénée hotel, where his main restaurant is found. Although each review is only a paragraph long, they’re as packed with flavor as any French dish.
The Eiffel Tower from a Room Balcony at the George V Hotel
Paris’s main attractions like the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay get lengthy write-ups, and as usual with Frommer’s guides there is all the practical information you need. This includes specific admission prices and opening hours, any concessionary admissions, and the nearest Métro station(s). All this detail is hard work for the authors to find - we know, we’ve written several guides to Paris ourselves - but invaluable for the reader.
The authors encourage you to take some day trips or longer from Paris, and there are good-sized sections on places including Versailles, Chartres, Giverny, Fontainebleau, and of course Disneyland Paris.
Frommer’s has certainly assembled an experienced team of no less than six authors to write their Paris guide, with most of them living in Paris including one in Montmartre and one in Belleville. They include food writers, bloggers, and walking tour guides, the author of Paris for Dummies, and contributors to The Wall Street Journal, Food & Wine, Hemispheres, and the Paris by Mouth website.
On top of all the features we’ve covered, this Paris travel guide also has some good background reading, hundreds of good quality colour photos, several pages of useful phrases, and is printed on good-quality paper throughout. There are many good guidebooks to Paris, including two of our favourites, The Rough Guide and The Time Out Guide, but this Frommer’s guide is up there with the best of them.
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