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Recommended Reading

Another Peek into the Secrets of Paris

 

Only in Paris
A guide to unique locations, hidden corners and unusual objects 

by Duncan J.D. Smith

If you are looking for a light, well-written and comprehensive guidebook to Paris, I recommend Duncan J.D. Smith’s Only in Paris: A guide to unique locations, hidden corners and unusual objects  (2013).

This guidebook is both up-to-date and highly informative. It addresses a wide variety of interests, from history, religion, and architecture to shopping, restaurants, and popular culture. Even an experienced Francophile might discover something new by flipping through these colorful pages.

The chapters are organized by neighborhood, a helpful way to organize what might otherwise seem like an overwhelming amount of information. This is because every neighborhood in Paris has a distinct personality, with its own stories to tell, unique communities of people and many hidden corners.

If you follow Smith’s guide from beginning to end, you will start in the monumental and museum-rich center of the city. Then you will spiral outwards through impressive gardens, through the bourgeois shopping district, through the university areas and the famous Left Bank, with its jazz cafés, past old churches and up dark stairwells, all the way to Montmartre, known for its nightlife and cabarets.

Smith provides enough historical context to be interesting, but never so much to be boring. The photographs are beautiful, and the layout is quite easy to navigate. If you are looking for a good guidebook for your trip to Paris, I recommend this one.

Review by Secrets of Paris Correspondent Rachel Veroff