The Best Paris Guidebook

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Paris is reported to be the most popular tourist destination in the world. Each year people come from all over the world for their vacations. I’m sure they spend months and months making arrangements, searching the internet looking for a charming, affordable hotel, scouring web site for decent airfares, and searching my blog for places to eat.

So after all that, what do most people depend on to get around this most fabulous of all cities? The free maps from Galleries Lafayette that the hotels give out. Not that there’s anything wrong with those maps.

Ok, yes there is.

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Let’s face it, Paris hasn’t changed much in the past 100 or so years or more, and it ain’t gonna be changing much in our lifetime either. So next time you come, on your very first day, stop by a Presse, or newstand, and buy one of these booklets. They cost about 5 to 7 euros, and are available in various sizes and formats. Few Parisians leave the house without this handy little booklet in their handbag or man-purse. It easily slips inside a coat pocket as well.

Mine lists all the outdoor markets in the city by day and location, addresses for all the attractions in Paris, the location of gas stations and taxi stands, where all the big department stores are, schools and universities (ok, you probably don’t need those), and a complete overview and map of the extensive métro system. And the last kicker: you can use it each and every time you come back to Paris. No need to buy a new one.

Related posts and links:

Paris Dining and Travel Guides

My Paris

Two Delicious Dining Guides to Paris

The Pastry Shops of Paris

French Menu Translation, Made Easy

11 comments

  • I’ve been owning such a guide since 1995 and it’s perfect… except when some streets or squares get a new name. Yes, in Paris, that can happen. The square at the bottom of the garden below Sacré Coeur is not called Square Willette anymore but Square Louise Michel. Since 2004. It once took me some googling (just saw now that hotmap still has it wrong) to understand where the open air show I wanted to see was going to take place…

  • I’m in 100% agreement with you! As the cover of ours proclaims, they truly are L’Indispensable.

  • Hey ! We *do* leave the house without this guide. Probably more when we are using our foot, thus. When we take a car, we take it with us, of couse. Paris’ so full of cars !

    Why take it when we’re by foot ? We know where we go, and if we’re going for a promenade, it’s usually quite good not to know where we are going… :)

  • David, I actually find that those maps are mostly useful for those of us who live here and are looking for the broad boulevards to get us from general area A to general area B. But the Indispensable guides are great.

    However.

    Quote: Let’s face it, Paris hasn’t changed much in the past 100 or so years or more, and it ain’t gonna be changing much in our lifetime either.

    Not true! Our street didn’t exist three years ago and it’s only on 2006 maps that it has finally shown up. Also – to our great frustration leading nearly to tears – the city of Paris has this charming habit of changing the direction of one way streets from time to time, just to keep you on your toes. So if you drive around Paris a lot (which yes, we shouldn’t do – the public transportation is fantastic – but the husband is lazy) you need to get a new one every few years.

    What the heck, I lose one every few years anyway.

    Do like he says: buy a map!

  • For those who like to scan my copy looking for signs of errors or omissions, you’ll notice I use lots of words like,”Paris hasn’t changed much is our lifetime…” and “Few Parisians leave the house without this…” (yes, some Parisians actually do leave their homes without le guide, etc, etc…

    Not only has my new speech patterns affected my blogging, but my personal life as well:

    I no longer say things like… “I have to go to the bathroom.”

    Instead I say…”I perhaps think that I might need to go to the bathroom, maybe.”

    That way I’m fairly certain I’ve got all my bases covered.

    And Meg: Who looks at street directions in Paris? Only us Yanks and Brits : )
    Melissa: I wouldn’t expect anything less of a couple who’s URL includes the word ‘obesession’!

    I certainly hope that people are as precise when driving as they are when reading my blog. Think of how much safer our streets and highways would be!

  • Hey there, David. I just wanted to say I absolutely LOVE your blog. It’s just so interesting and you’re so animated in your writing! I love hearing about the markets and what it’s like over there in Paris. I’m sure it’s nothing like actually experiencing Paris first hand, but for now, while I’m stuck here in New Brunswick, Canada, I can live vicariously through you. Ok? :)

  • Wow, thanks for the tip, David! I will definitely take you up on that!

    ~Dianka
    http://na-zdravi.blogspot.com/

  • Ah! Those free maps make steam come out of my ears every time I visit. I became a much happier, less homicidal woman when I invested in a decent guide.

  • “…it’s free (so is herpes).” I had to, er, I mean, I might have, perhaps, considered laughing out loud, or at least giggled, silently to myself, when I read that, maybe. Or not.

  • I’m planning on visiting Paris for the first time this June … thank you for the recommendation!

  • I’ve been using the Editions Leconte maps for some time now, and they have helped my navigate and get lost (purposefully) in some truly great neighborhoods in Paris. I love the low-profile size, as it doesn’t scream *TOURIST*.

    I think a lot of the lists in the Leconte book are useful. You never know when you’ll need a hospital, and the list of open air markets was particularly nice — I’ve had many great conversations with the vendors at markets.

    Not to mention the fact that the average street in Paris is two blocks long, then changes names and directions — having a map with some detail is crucial to a more-than-casual visit to Paris.

    There’s a similar map book series popping up in the US. It’s the NFT (Not for Tourists) books. No frills, but it does have restaurant/bar/cultural lists as well as municipal/practical/sundry lists. The NFT for New York is a great addition to my travel books.