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The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  3,102 ratings  ·  394 reviews
From the author of Immoveable Feast and We’ll Always Have Paris comes a guided tour of the most beautiful walks through the City of Light, including the favorite walking routes of the many of the acclaimed artists and writers who have called Paris their home. Baxter highlights hidden treasures along theSeine, treasured markets at Place d’Aligre, the favorite ambles of Erne ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 24th 2011 by Harper Perennial
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Chocolate & Croissants
I am having some difficulty reviewing The Most Beautiful Walk in the World; A Pedestrian in Paris. I wanted to like the book, I should have liked the book. I love everything about Paris. I would be in Paris every weekend if I could. And the title is so appropriate; Paris belongs to pedestrians. It is one of the most walkable and pretty cities I have ever visited. I enjoyed the book. However there were some moments of boredom and disillusionment.

This may have been my own doing. I had a pre-conce
Andrew Fish
May 12, 2013 rated it did not like it
A quick glance at the blurb for this book suggests the kind of travelogue Bill Bryson has made his raison d'etre. Unfortunately, this is misleading. The title suggests a sort of pedestrian's view of Paris, which is equally misleading. Instead, what we have here is a rather unstructured, random series of thoughts from a man with literary pretensions who happens to live in Paris. The book is disjointed - one chapter about a friend trying to buy a house is followed by another about the French Revol ...more
Sep 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is what a book about Paris should be like. John Baxter is an expat who gets it. He doesn't over generalize the city or the people. He understands that everyone's experience in Paris is different even in the ways that it's the same. The book is a series of amusing, thought-provoking, beautiful vignettes about Paris life: the good, the bad, and the bizarre (the chapter about real estate made me laugh out loud with sympathy!) Having spent a lot of time in Paris myself, I still learned a lot ab ...more
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
I accuse this book of false advertising.

An hour or so into this audiobook I went back to re-read the promotional blurb, thinking that I must have misread it. I was expecting a book that would combine a treatise on the benefits of walking, along with notes & history of Paris and its architecture. This book has little to nothing to do with walking, and is more about the author than about the City of Love.
Beth Cato
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
This the second of Baxter's books on Paris that I have read, and I enjoyed this one much more than the first. It's a breezy travelogue on Paris and its streets, about the very culture of walking neighborhood by neighborhood. Baxter has lived there for decades and brings a long-time resident's insights, while still adding contrasts from his experiences during his Australian childhood and other stops abroad. This book will particularly delight literature fans, as Baxter can't help but emphasize th ...more
Silvia Agostini
Apr 08, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I could not simply finish this book, the furthest I could go, was chapter 26. Did not like it all, would not suggest it to anybody.

Firstly: it is not a book about Paris, is a book about the author. He starts his auto-biography (can't call it a novel, sorry) telling us how good he is as a chef, just to keep going to describe all his good qualities: nobody knows Paris better than him, everybody loves or admires the way he talks and so on. At some point he writes "I shared with Hemingway an acute e
"If as the flaneurs claimed, walking around Paris is an art, then the city itself is the surface on which they create. And since Paris is ancient, that surface is not blank... (W)e who walk in Paris write a new history with each step. The city we leave behind will never be quite the same again." p.132

Almost a year ago, I read Rebecca Sonit's Wanderlust: A History of Walking. If I had ever heard the term flaneur before that book, I had not remembered doing so. It did not occur to me when I downlo
Oct 02, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france
If you can get past the author's arrogance, you find that about half of the book isn't about Paris or people in Paris at all. The first bit was devoted to deriding those poor souls who, wearing their beige raincoat and comfortable shoes, consult a map during their walk in Paris. What the hell does Baxter want them to wear? A Chanel suit and four-inch spiked heels? And what better way to figure out which direction to walk in than to consult a map? He seems to simply look down his nose at anyone w ...more
Oct 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
I zeroed in on this book because it made me think of my brown eyed boy, Benjamin. I sent him to Paris in 2002 with a high school group, and again in 2004 with his brother. I wanted to impress on my sons their ability to end up anywhere in the world they desired to go, even the most beautiful city in the world. Despite never having been to Paris myself, I enjoyed the book as a fellow walker, and was pleased to see the author point out the benefits of eschewing motorized transport. Although food a ...more
Sep 16, 2011 rated it liked it
This book is an example of one of my pet peeves about some books - they are not as advertised. You reads the blurbs on the covers and think "this looks like a good book", then the book barely relates to the cover info. This book would have been better titled "Some Interesting Things To See In Paris" - it has little to do with actual walks. Like the author, the book likes to wander. Sometimes it is about art, or food, or movies and sometimes about other towns. Change the title and it is an intere ...more
Left Coast Justin
Jul 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
My disengagement with this book did not come from the tone or writing style of the narrator -- both were fine -- but rather because I simply fail to share the author's awe that *this is the very street* and *the very restaurant* where Ernest Hemingway once worked and lived. This point seems to be the linchpin of Baxter's worldview, and if you happen not to share this interest, you'll find the entire premise weakened. This is not a slam on Paris or even Mr. Baxter, but simply a prediction of who ...more
Mar 15, 2015 rated it liked it
I enjoyed John Baxter's tour of Paris - his choice of walks throughout the city, many bringing back my own memories of places visited, always on foot, the best way to explore any city. Wherever you are in Paris, there is something interesting to see, architecture to enjoy, history and stories to absorb - they can only be found and truly appreciated while walking. About his own neighborhood: "To find your place, to share it with those you love, and to be happy - who could want more than that?"
Feb 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
It's funny, in reading other reviews of this book on here, I realize the world does move differently for everyone.
Though I thought I was going to read more about actual walks in Paris, Baxter took me down a back alley and like when traveling the best stories come from getting lost.
Baxter has stolen the life I would love to live (only I'd choose London)! This book was a fantastic, charming & inspiring read. It has made me even that much more excited for my July trip.
Emma Sea
Nov 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Quite charming. Essentially this is A Year in Provence, for a booklover, set in Paris.

3.82 stars
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I just loved this light, fun, informative book about Paris. I think it was a case of the right book at the right time. I read most of it aloud to my parents on a road trip, and it lent itself well to that mode of enjoyment.
This was my pick for the Travel Memoir category of the 2017 Read Harder Challenge.
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, france, non-fiction, food
This book was both more and less than I expected. I enjoyed it immensely!

Because of the title, I expected a description of 'a' beautiful walk down one single street in Paris. One would, right?
It was instead a description that took on so much more of Paris — Literary, Art, History, Characters — that it was a genuine treat!

Fun book!
Jun 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 18tbr, non-fiction
Want to visit Paris without leaving home? This armchair tour offers an enjoyable introduction to Paris and the Parisian art of walking in the city, along with many literary and historical anecdotes and some illustrations. The author also provides useful tips for enjoying an in-person visit.
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A series of descriptions of walks taken by John Baxter all around Paris with a lot of anecdotes and autobiographical side stories. Simply a delight.
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Baxter, John
May 1, 2020
Chapter 19 - The Ground Beneath Our Feet
When I walk in New York, I look up.
April 19, 2020
Chapter 2 - ‘Walking Backwards for Christmas’
The hostility to being on foot on December 24 is reflected in the national rejection of Father Christmas
April 23, 2020
Chapter 3 - What a Man’s Got to Do
Steven Spielberg, refining his concept of the extraterrestrial E.T., clipped the forehead and nose from Karsh’s image, added the eyes of poet Carl Sandburg
Pallavi Kamat
Nov 15, 2013 rated it liked it
I picked up this book with a lot of hope and excitement. I have been fascinated with France, and particularly Paris, ever since I started learning French from the 8th grade. But the book disappointed me. It is, not as I expected, about the many walks through Paris and the author's personal favourite. It is rather a collection of observations the author has about Paris, only some of which are related to him being a flaneur.

But, that is not to say I did not enjoy the book. It does mention tidbits
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, travel
This book is full of loosely connected short chapters about the various aspects of Paris as it relates to walkers, which would have made it an ideal book to pick up and put down as time allows. (Provided I put it down more than once or twice while I was reading it. Which I didn't.) I'm a sucker for a travel book, and this one was nice because it covered a few of the big tourist draws but was mostly filled with lesser-known spots and anecdotes.

Interestingly, it did lead me to one major realizatio
Laura Smith
May 11, 2013 rated it liked it
For a Francophile like moi-meme who goes gaga when she spots La Tour Eiffel in the back drop of a commercial or nearly faints when she hears someone speaking French, this book is a must read. John Baxter takes you on a personal walking tour of the beautiful streets of Paris, savoring all of the sensory delicacies the city has to offer. I could read and reread passages of this book, swooning each and every time.

However, the book is a bit random in the way it is written. It starts with one Christm
Sep 21, 2011 rated it liked it
What a hodgepodge! Yes, there are some interesting ideas and stories, but there are so many errors in this book that one wonders if anyone bothered to proof-read or edit this book. Examples: there is quite a nice looking map of Paris, with an accompanying key designed to show the location of some of the places discussed in the book. The problem is, the numeral 22 is used for two different places which threw off all the rest of the key so that places on the Left Bank are indicated as being on the ...more
Jun 09, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The few months I lived in Paris were the most ideal of my life. I was completely content—surrounded by beauty, history, and life—and still consider Paris my favorite city in the world. Naturally, I gravitated to John Baxter’s The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris.

Walk is a combination of personal narrative and scholarly essay. Baxter relates experiences (sometimes non-walks) from his native Australia to Los Angeles to Paris and interweaves them with historical incidents, pa
I saw this sitting on the "new release" shelf at the library and had NO CHOICE but to check it out. The title, the cover, the enticing synopsis on the back cover---this was going to be an enjoyable little read that would allow me pretend I was wandering the streets of Paris.

I got a third of the way through this book and I am still not wandering the streets of Paris. Instead, I've learned that the author's French wife and her family---shockingly!----can't cook, LA is not a walking city, and Austr
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful stroll round some of Paris's tourists sites, the lesser known ones. Full of literary references such as the haunts and actions of Hemingway and F Scot FItzgerald and of course the famous Shakespeare and Co bookshop and owner. Loved the chapter on the catacombs which I've visited and he vivid description brought it right back. The author has a great conversational style so it s. like you're walking along with him. Wonderful and I feel like I have spent the last couple of days in Paris.
Jun 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Fun, quick read about walking and walks in Paris. John Baxter lives in Paris and does tours that focus on the places where authors, particularly American ones, lived and worked. He has a breezy style and I learned quite a few things that will be useful as I walk Paris more.

The downside of the book is that there are some inaccuracies in the book, such as a map that shows the Luxembourg Gardens on the Right Bank.
May 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
Would have benefitted from editing. A very loose collection of essays, and some do not fit. His broad characterizations of Americans (stereotypes all- and I doubt the veracity of many of his tales) makes me doubt anything he has to say about the French. And why no stories of his compatriots? Perhaps Australian tourists/backpackers choose not to spend their Euros on 'literary' guides?
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. There have been some reviews that expressed disappointment about the content. It is not a guide book, but more a kind of memoir of Paris itself. I really liked the bits of history provided about certain sites (such as the Cour de Commerce, Chapter 34) and the debunking of some of the Hemingway mythology (Chapter 8). This was fun and unserious.

Mark Hartzer
Mar 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
A nice little book. Inoffensive and lighthearted. Lots of anecdotes about Hemingway and Fitzgerald's time there. This is an easy, fast read particularly if you've been to Paris before. The next we go, we'll definitely try one of the walking tours.
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John Baxter (born 1939 in Randwick, New South Wales) is an Australian-born writer, journalist, and film-maker.

Baxter has lived in Britain and the United States as well as in his native Sydney, but has made his home in Paris since 1989, where he is married to the film-maker Marie-Dominique Montel. They have one daughter, Louise.

He began writing science fiction in the early 1960s for New Worlds, Sci

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