I just love these Eyewitness guides, they are so colourful and vibrant. I bought this prior to my latest trip to Paris and found it so much better and...moreI just love these Eyewitness guides, they are so colourful and vibrant. I bought this prior to my latest trip to Paris and found it so much better and more useful that other giudes I have used in the past. There is so much history and detail in it that I found places that I didn't know about despite several previous visits.
The book is split into really easy to follow sections - basically the diffrerent quarters (i.e. The Latin Quarter, Le Marais, Monmartre, The Opera Quarter etc). At the beginning of each section there is a small map of Paris at the bottom of the page highlighting where it is in relation to the other areas and then over the page a more detailed map of the sites in that area with snippets of info. The following pages go into more detail about various sites, buildings etc. It's choc full of so many things I wanted to cram into my weekend but alas some will have to be saved for another trip (any excuse!).
There is also loads of info on the best places to eat (again by area, and also price), different types of shops, markets etc as well as all the practical info about getting around and underground and overground maps. I read the whole things from start to finish before I left for Paris becuase I found it so interesting as a book as well as just a city guide.
I highly recommend this book - perfect for planning and drooling over.(less)
I'm glad I have finished this book; it was really beginning to irritate me! I wanted to like it, I really did - Books, Paris, what's not to love? What...moreI'm glad I have finished this book; it was really beginning to irritate me! I wanted to like it, I really did - Books, Paris, what's not to love? What a shame then that what started off as a very promising look into Paris's most famous of bookstores quickly descended into one of the most self-indulgent memoirs I have ever read.
Jeremy Mercer is a Canadain journalist who after printing the name of someone he promised he wouldn't name, did a runner one Christmas to Paris and ended up spending the next 9 months of his life living in the famous Shakespeare & Company bookshop. What did interest me was the fact that the shops owner, 86 year old George Whitman (an American) let anyone (usually with the claim of being a struggling writer) sleep in one of the many beds dotted around the shop, indefinitely. The backstory of how George came to be in Paris and how he came to set up the shop in the first place was intruiging (for about 50 pages). What confused me too was the fact that Mercer kept saying what a wonderful person George was, yet the way he portrayed him was as a rude, grumpy old man who perved after young girls 65 years younger than him! He also repeatedly talked about Georges wish for communism and how the world had it all wrong, yet he also seemed proud of the fact that the two of them would go to church sales to buy books for a few pence and then sell them on for a massive profit in his store. Infact, when one of the priests cottoned on to what they were doing, George had a physical fight with the priest over a book. Nice!
I am left feeling deflated and somewhat irritated by this book. Given the subject, I expected to fall in love with Paris over again through the book. While there were frequent references to getting pissed and telling stories by the river Seine, there was never a point where I felt that this was a magical city. The narrative was flat, it didn't make me feel like I was there (which is always a sign of a well written book, in my opinion), in fact I didn't even feel like Paris was somewhere I would want to revisit on the back of this book.
A self-indulgent, poorly executed excuse for a mediocre writer to cash in on his time spent living in a famous bookshop. (less)
How refreshing it is to read an account of France and the French that hasn't resorted to the usual "hilarious" micky-taking of every stereotype you ca...moreHow refreshing it is to read an account of France and the French that hasn't resorted to the usual "hilarious" micky-taking of every stereotype you can think of.
I am a huge Francophile and am about to embark on my 8th trip in the next few months so I was looking forward to reading this. The book is written by a Brit who has lived in France for over 20 years, was married to a French man and has two children who have always considered themselves French rather than dual-nationality, so she's pretty well placed to make fair and frank comments about both the French and the Brits and all our differences without resorting to cliches and poking fun.
Wadham, if telling about a certain aspect of French behaviour, always tries to back it up with historical facts of why that may be (the revolution, catholicism, a national love of and belief in Freud for example) which did cause a few "aha" moments. What I also liked was the way she explains our British behaviour in comparison and the reasons why the French see us the way they do: we dress badly and have a culture of ladettes and drunkeness but they have a great affection for our eccentricity and sense of humour.
There were some eye-openers too, particularly when it comes to extra-marital relations and racism. I also now know why those "rude" Parisian waiters behave the way they do too. While I come from a nation of manners, politeness and overusing the words please and thankyou in resturants, for the French the role of waitor is held in icredibly high esteem and expressing gratitude is seen as us looking down on their profession. Now I know to look down, not up and say simply "onion soup and red wine". Simple!
My only slight grumble about this book is that it sometimes appeared as though it was hopping back and forth between times or themes. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it a refreshing and convincing portrayal of one of our closest neighbours. (less)
I read this in 2001 as we went to Bali and Lombok for our honeymoon. The places are wonderful and the book is wonderful. I love the eyewitness giudes...moreI read this in 2001 as we went to Bali and Lombok for our honeymoon. The places are wonderful and the book is wonderful. I love the eyewitness giudes - they're so colourful and have loads of background information.(less)