I hear people say, 'Who needs another guide to Paris?' Well, if you look at the
bookshelves full of Paris guidebooks, or do a search on Amazon, you know what
they mean. But there's always room for a guide which shows the city in a different
light, such as the Only in Paris guide we reviewed recently, and this older
Unusual Nights in Paris.
Unusual Nights in Paris is published by Jonglez, and we're big fans of their series of 'Secret' guides. On a recent visit to Amsterdam we made good use of Secret Amsterdam, and we've also given an enthusiastic review to their Secret Dublin guidebook. As the company is based just outside Paris, in Versailles, you would expect their Paris guides to be something special – and they are, beginning here with Unusual Nights in Paris.
Very often when we go away, we spend the days sightseeing, and the evening having a good meal. Maybe we pop into a bar or a cafe for an aperitif or a nightcap. Real night owls will of course have sussed out the nightclub scene and know where they can dance and drink till dawn. But there are so many other interesting and fun things going on in the evenings in a city like Paris that it would be a shame not to make the most of them.
The book promises '150 Nightspots off the Beaten Track', though don't be misled into thinking this is all about bars and nightclubs. It's a very broad collection of unusual ways to spend an evening in the city of light... after dark. It even includes such places as the National Assembly, the Musée d'Orsay and other museums that are open in the evenings, so it isn't just a bible for clubbers.
There are plenty of less conventional suggestions, though. Do you want to go swimming in the nude? If so, turn to page 72 to find out which swimming pool has nights for nude swimmers, and also which gay bar in the Marais has naked nights and jockstrap parties.
As well as unusual ways of passing the night the guide has also come up with some unusual ways of spending the night, other than in a conventional hotel room. You can take a room at the Shakespeare and Co bookshop, for example, or have a room on a river barge, or – something I'd no idea you could do – you can book a room in the Hôtel Dieu hospital next to Nôtre Dame on the Île de la Cité. It's the oldest city hospital, originally founded in 651 on the same site, though the present buildings date from 1877.
The book's author, Jean-Laurent Cassely, really has to be commended for coming up with so many imaginative and original ideas for unusual ways of spending the night in Paris.
A very useful feature at the back of the book is a summary of what nights out are available on which nights of the week. So if you're in Paris on a Friday and Saturday nights, say, you don't have to read the entire book only to find that the thing you really want to do only happens on a Tuesday.
On the other hand, if you're planning a visit to Paris and are flexible about days, you should read the book in full. You might want to plan your timing around some of these unusual nights.
In addition to the list of what's happening on which nights of the week there's also a conventional alphabetical index, from 'Altiz, the tarot messenger' through to 'Zodiac rides on the Seine' via more conventional activities like visiting the Louvre.
Although the book came out in 2009, I checked some of the entries and they are still valid. One or two may have changed, so be sure to check first. All the contact details are given for each entry. And if you're planning a visit to Paris be sure to buy this book, too. It opens up the city in a unique way.
Dec 26, 16 03:03 AM
Beyond London Travel visits Floors Castle near Kelso in the Scottish Borders, family home of the Duke of Roxburghe and one of VisitScotland's 5-star visitor attractions, a Scottish Downton Abbey.
Dec 04, 16 12:37 PM
The Beyond London Travel Books page reviews guidebooks, history, mysteries and fiction to help readers enjoy their visits to England, the UK, France, and beyond.
Dec 04, 16 12:20 PM
Beyond London Travel reviews Food Trails, a new guidebook from Lonely Planet for the culinary traveller which helps you plan 52 Perfect Weekends in the world's tastiest destinations.