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The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris [Paperback]

John Baxter
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Mar 2012
In this enchanting memoir, acclaimed author and Paris resident John Baxter recounts his year-long experience of giving literary walking tours through the city. Along the way, he tells the history of Paris through a brilliant cast of characters and their favourite haunts: the cafés of Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Joyce; Picasso s underground Montmartre dives; the bustling boulevards of the late-19th century flâneurs; the secluded Little Luxembourg gardens beloved by Gertrude Stein; and finally Baxter s own favourite walk near his home in Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
Paris, by both custom and design, is a pedestrian s city each block a revelation, every neighbourhood a new feast for the senses, a place rich with history and romance at every turn. The Most Beautiful Walk in the World is your guide par excellence to the true, off-the-beaten-track heart of the City of Lights.

Frequently Bought Together

The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris + Quiet Corners Of Paris: Unexpected Hideaways, Secret Courtyards, Hidden Gardens + Lunch In Paris: A Delicious Love Story, with Recipes
Price For All Three: 21.47

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Short Books Ltd (1 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780720432
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780720432
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 40,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A lovely book, full of unexpected pleasures... Parisians claim that walking around Paris is an art form in itself, and Baxter proves them right." Chicago Tribune "The Most Beautiful Walk in the World is as close as a reader can get to the feel of a languid spring walk along Baron Haussmann's boulevards." Los Angeles Times "Anyone who loves Paris and loves to walk will feel this book was written just for them... Charming." USA Today "A splendid memoir... Reading The Most Beautiful Walk in the World is the next best thing to a Paris vacation." Boston Globe "Fabulous - the perfect companion for anyone inspired to hop over to France after seeing Midnight in Paris" NPR.org

About the Author

John Baxter is an Australian-born journalist, filmmaker and the author of several books including Cooking for Claudine (Short Books, 2011). Baxter has lived in Paris since 1989, with his wife and daughter.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How memories are made. 12 Mar 2012
By Jan
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The only way to really get to know any city is to walk (with the obvious exception of Los Angeles, as John Baxter points out so entertainingly) and if this book doesn't make you want to meander around the beautiful city of Paris, nothing ever will! Guide books will tell you things like which metro line will take you to the Eiffel Tower, and that the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays, but this book will encourage you to wander and seek out for yourself the unusual, the fascinating and the beautiful corners that make this city such a delight to visit again and again.

Mr Baxter's knowledge of Paris and its recent history is evident on every page, and so too is his love for the city that he has called home for several decades. He has many stories to tell about the people who lived, loved, ate, drank and even committed murder in these streets and parks. I will never be able to sit in the Luxembourg Gardens calmly reading my book ever again, without thinking of the Luftwaffe making the Luxembourg Palace their HQ (they weren't daft, were they!) or the evil Henri Desire Landru who met the women he would go on to murder at the cafe in these very gardens, and I shall be constantly looking in shop windows for an opium pipe! Hemingway gets many a mention and Mr Baxter is quite happy to affectionately chip away at the "action man" image that this literary giant has acquired over the years.

The real message of the book is that every one, Parisian and visitor alike, has a different view of what makes Paris such a wonderful place to be, and if you leave your guide book behind and just walk you will find your own favourite shops, cafes and views and then you too can return home with stories to tell. The author has told us about some of his favourite walks in Paris, but I bet he has kept his absolute favourite a secret - and why not!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This book is not a walk in Paris! 11 Nov 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Not what I was expecting from the title. If the writer was at a party he would be the one who spent all his time name dropping or going one better than everyone else. I love Paris and walk for miles around the city and so was looking forward to reading someone else's similar experiences. But this does not flow, it is not his year in Paris. It jumps from one name drop to another. Yes I like to know history and who has been where, I have followed ideas from other books and found some lovely new experiences but this book has not given me any incentives to think I must go there!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Reading 18 April 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading this book. John Baxters personal experences are used to frame snippets of literary and general Parisian history / gossip in a fun and readable way. It is refreshing that John doesn't allow the the book to take itself or himself too seriously - I found that this lack of pretentiousness makes the book eminantly accessible.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By Mrs. K. A. P. Wright TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This not Wainwright's Paris. If you are looking for a series of walks with the mileage and the main features outlined, look elsewhere. It is also not a tourist guide to Paris or a history of Paris - I'm finding this quite a difficult book to describe. I think I'm going to go all whimsical:

Imagine you are in a bar in Paris, having met up with a friend you have not seen for some time. In mood, you are suspended somewhere between the second and third glass, mellow but still in charge of your faculties. He starts to tell you what he has been getting up to, describing his life in Paris, sidetracking off into anecdotes as they come to him, odd bits of history, jokes, gossip, the odd snippet about his family. You listen, entranced, because you are relaxed and the ambiance in the bar is great - and he is such a fabulous story teller.

So, I apologise for the whimsy, but it's the best way I can describe this book. It has whetted my appetite for Paris, A Moveable Feast by Hemingway and more books by John Baxter (already ordered!) It has also made me feel mellow and happy and not at all hungover. What more could one ask of a book?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Guess what? 31 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback
Ernest Hemingway used to hang around the same area that the author now lives in. As did Pound, Joyce etc etc That seems to be the main point of this tedious book. Dull anecdotes about the author's life and times bolted on to a very vague and unengaging history of artistic Paris with a few addresses tacked on to the end. The pictures are okay and the book is well designed but it is at least 60% longer than it needed to be. Would've made a mildly diverting magazine article but it's no book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars la parisienne decue 11 Nov 2012
By castell
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
After having spent some weeks in Paris this year I was looking forward to reading this book, but was disapointed as I found the title very misleading.
I was expecting to find lots of interesting off the beat information that I could investigate on my next trip. However I found the information and stories inside very run of the mill with stories that any one with a slight knowledge of Paris would be aware of.
During my time this summer I learnt a lot about Paris and its history and of it's flaneurs and I would have expected it to cover information over a larger area and not just the left bank.
Some of the anecdotes were mildly amusing but not a book I would recommend to lovers of walking in Paris
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Will this do, editor? 27 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback
In recent years, a whole shelf-load of books has appeared by Anglo-Saxon authors about living (and sometimes loving) in Paris, complete with wry observations on the French and their culture, and on the follies of Anglo-Saxons adrift there. John Baxter, an Australian cultural critic married to Frenchwoman, has already had several goes at this theme: this is his latest, and it's a frustrating and irritating read. That's because it's a reasonable book which, with a bit of editing and some judicious additions and deletions, could have been a good one. As it is, the text has a rushed, unfinished, Will This Do? kind of quality to it. There's no preface thanking those who read the book in draft, which is logical enough, because it looks as though nobody did.
The first thing to say is that this is not a book of Paris walks, nor even a book about the habit of walking in Paris, along the lines of Edmund White's Le Flaneur. It's really a collection of (mostly) amusing anecdotes, loosely related to walking around the author's own Sixth Arrondisement, and showing uncomprehending American tourists the cultural landmarks. There are long digressions about other cities the author has lived in (presumably to use up space) and stories about famous American expatriates, usually drunk. On the other hand, there are no footnotes or references, no index and and no useful maps. Nearly all of the Parisians mentioned in the book, living and dead, writers, artists or just tourists, are non-French: indeed, the French figure very little in the book at all.
The book has its virtues. It is gracefully and amusingly written it is obviously based on deep knowledge of parts, at least, of the city, and some affection for it, and most of its practical advice is quite useful.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Too pedestrian for me.
I must have got it wrong. It's not about walking in one of the most walkable cities in Europe. This is one of those books about how ex pats find themselves experiencing Paris... Read more
Published 7 days ago by square eyes
1.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly disappointing
Self-indulgent, poorly written and patronising with bad translations, vulgar references to money and utterly sexist remarks throughout. I would not recommended this book.
Published 24 days ago by Lucy Davies
4.0 out of 5 stars The real thing
Definitely intended for the "typical" tourist, i.e. American, this book nevertheless does give insights into the "real" Paris and the French as they really are. Read more
Published 27 days ago by Multikulti
2.0 out of 5 stars Literary ramblings
I found this a little boring and disappointing. I thought, due to the title, that it would be more about walks in different area of Paris. Read more
Published 1 month ago by J. Rees
3.0 out of 5 stars Mis-described
I had read 20-25% of this book with barely a walk mentioned. It's OK as a book but a significant amount of the book is about neither walking nor Paris.
Published 1 month ago by Adrian
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, informative, quirky, and quite unexpected.
Certainly not your normal travelogue. More a series of humorous anecdotes, from the broken door-lock, via the opium pipe, to the Swiss performance artist and Marlene Dietrich, with... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars I love Paris
At last, a book that really lives up to its title. This is not just an entertaining amble through the streets and boulevards of Paris, it is also full of distractions,... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Bing
5.0 out of 5 stars Paris
Another view of this fascinating city that adds more to each wonderful visit. There's always more to see and enjoy!
Published 4 months ago by KSG
5.0 out of 5 stars Read when going to Paris
I bought this just before a trip to Paris where I had not been for about 20 years. It really put me in the mood for Paris. It is so atmospheric. Read more
Published 4 months ago by G. E. Kirkup
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
Great book, easy to dip in and out of various chapters. I bought this to read before we went on honeymoon but actually didn't get round to reading it beforehand. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Stephanie Van de Pette
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