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Parisians' Paris [Paperback]

Bill Gillham

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Book Description

Nov. 1 2013
Experience the sights and sounds of the City of Lights like a true native with this expanded edition

Bill Gillham has been visiting Paris for decades. For him, the pleasure is not in revisiting the tourist sights, but rather in immersing himself in a particular quartier, discovering little shops and bistros, exploring markets, parks, and local entertainment, and finding the quirks and particularities of the city's day-to-day life. In this unique guidebook, Bill takes travelers to 21 of his favorite areas in Paris—some central, some suburban, all off the beaten track. Neglected or completely ignored by ordinary guide books, each of these locales has a purely individual, Parisian character and make superb bases for traditional sightseeing, and in particular an ideal way of seeing Paris with children. All the information about where to stay; how to get about; where to shop and eat; which museums, parks, playgrounds to not miss; and what to avoid is provided along with lush photographs that give a hint of the pleasures to be gleaned. All the information has been meticulously updated, and many sections have been enlarged and improved.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Pallas Athene; Third Edition, Third edition edition (Nov. 1 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843680874
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843680871
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 11.4 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #624,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"A very useful [guide], for Gillham's opinions are curatorial . . . don't leave home without it."  —headbutler.com

About the Author

Bill Gillham first went to Paris more than 50 years ago. He is an academic and child psychologist and has written almost 100 books, most of them for children.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
134 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More opinionated -- and honest -- than any other guidebook I've come across Nov. 1 2010
By Jesse Kornbluth - Published on Amazon.com
We have all read a zillion guidebooks directing us to the best stuff, the special stuff, even the secret stuff in Paris, and if we're jaded, we can hardly be blamed.

The best Paris? Special Paris? Secret Paris? Really? You think?

It's a great relief, therefore, to stumble upon a book about Paris that begins like this: "Paris can be a surprisingly disappointing experience."

The problem: travelers have limited time, so they try to do too much. In search of the full picture, they see nothing.

Better, suggests Bill Gillham, an English academic and child psychologist who has made dozens of trips to Paris, to see less --- that is, to make a visit that's locally based.


Choose "one of the many village-like communities that make up the city," then venture out occasionally to the major sights.

What a radical idea. Don't visit Paris. Live there.

Gillman's prose is consistently tart.

"From mid-July to the end of August there is a mass exodus of those who live in Paris when their city is given over to tourists who know no better."

"One of the worst things about Paris in high summer is that the nights are not particularly cooler than the days."

"To be avoided are single rooms, as these are always the worst and often intolerably small....only very good friends should share a room."

"There are a number of guides to Paris shops, usually written by women who see shopping as an exclusively female occupation."

In restaurants, "it is common practice to offer the worst tables first, especially to tourists."

See what I mean? For once, you're not getting an even-handed guide. But you are getting, in 227 pages, a very useful one, for Gillham's opinions are curatorial --- he wants you off the road most traveled, so you can experience the sights, shops, hotels and restaurants he thinks are worth your while. He tells you how to order in restaurants, when to have your meals, what qualifies as a decent breakfast. He points you toward the overlooked. And, of course, he pushes his favorites.

The Left Bank? So many chic areas, but "St. Sulpice is arguably the smarter place to live." The place des Voges? Go early, before breakfast. The Ile St-Louis? "A fine place to stay, provided you get yourself out before breakfast and don't return until late afternoon."

A brasserie that has served bouillon every Monday since 1896. A doll museum. The best copper saucepans. A bistro "in steady decline, a process difficult to halt." Polidor: "the best-known bargain bistro in Paris, and it's in every guidebook." La Maision de la Mutualité: "an art deco restaurant on the first floor of a community and health center. ..an experience not to be missed."

The best café terrace. The most interesting shopping street. One of the few places in Paris where you still find street singers. How to make a reservation --- in French. Six great destinations for kids.

And on, and on.

"Parisians' Paris" --- don't leave home without it.
105 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent (second) guide to Paris Sept. 4 2010
By Reader - Published on Amazon.com
The first thing one needs to know is that this is not a guidebook to Paris in the traditional sense of the word. It does not recommend specific street walks or guide you to visit any of the well known touristic attractions. In fact it sort of steers you away from them, guides you to move next to them, away from them, rather than towards them. You will find yourself walking in a certain direction, then you look behind you and realize that you are moving away from the Eiffel Tower, for example.

What this book is is a very thorough listing of a large number of aspects of Paris that would normally escape the visitor who by definition does not know the city very well. The author of this book, on the other hand, knows Paris very well.

I highly appreciated the recommendations for visiting certain quartiers that are out of the well-trodden tourist path (that I seem to have walked over and over again every time that I have visited Paris in the past), the specific recommendations for unusual, hidden places for breakfast, bistros and brasseries that are known only to locals, the unique, unusual shops, icecream parlors, very interesting but unknown museums, etc. None of these are easily found unless one really knows one's way in Paris very well.

But, for all of the above reasons, it is also not a book for a first time visitor to Paris, or at least, cannot be the only book used by a first time visitor who definitely has to see the 20 or so major attractions. In my opinion, a regular guide, such as DK Eyewitness, together with this book would make an ideal combination.

Another important practical point is that the book is fully packed with information, much more than one can tell from its size. This is because it mainly consists of lists upon lists of recommendations, with very short synopses of explanations. Hence I recommend acquiring this book well in advance of a visit to Paris, then using it to plan a trip well before going there.

What happens is that there is so much to do in Paris that planning what to do the night before doing it takes too much valuable time. One year of dedicated walks around Paris will not suffice to cover all the spots that this book recommends. One will have to choose and concentrate on certain neighbourhoods, certain aspects of the city and get to know them very well.

Read the book in advance, decide on where you want to go then use the book as a referesher during your trip. Enjoy your trip.
115 of 116 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything you thought you'd need for Paris visit and more Sept. 17 2009
By Tillie Traveling - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This special book has more information about Paris than I have ever found in one place. It is divided into geographical "quartiers" on right and left banks. Information on these is divided into principal sights, quiet hotels, places for breakfast, public gardens, markets, food stores, neglected museums, interesting shops, bistros and brasseries. You could spend a whole day or two in each "quartier" if you wished and still have more to see. It is soft back but not "pocket size" unless you have a large pocket. Color and black and white photographs are sprinkled through this lovely book. The introduction explains everything and has lots of "hints" to make your visit very special - and to avoid any mistakes or misunderstandings with the locals. A real treasure.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Magic of Paris Dec 28 2010
By Margaret Spangler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Enen though I have been fortunate enough to have traveled to Paris many times Parisian's Paris told me of places to put on my "to do list" for my next magical trip. This book is definitely worth reading for those on their first trip to Paris or one of many.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars helpful for getting off the beaten path Dec 4 2011
By ejw2010 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This little book proved our most useful guide book. I'd been to Paris before, and stuff is so well labeled it's hard to miss places like the Louvre and Moulin Rouge and Arc de Triomphe, the internet at the hotel helped us find all the rest. But the Magic Museum, that was an afternoon of delight nestled on a completely overlookable street in a bustling neighborhood that we never would have found. Absolutely wonderful. Neighborhood bistros and wine bars and brasseries descriptions were all dead on and helpful. I think there was one that was closed, but we found a suitable substitute around a corner.

The fifth star is missing because he assumed the only breakfast one would want to eat is croissants and coffee. Very french, very lovely for those who can, but a book for tourists that recognizes the benefits of a good sleep (so rare!) should likewise recognize the benefits of a morning fuel that allows a non-French engine to purr all day. For my gluten-free, dairy free husband, that was the ubiquitous omelet nature. Just as easy to find as croissants in the morning, but not in all the same places. Perhaps that's terribly American of him, rest assured I made up for it in my croissant adoration and consumption. A bow to the possibility that croissants and bread may not be the only breakfasts one could want would have given this very helpful book its fifth star.

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