on 20 November 2005
Being as I have at least 25 different Eyewitness Guides, I have to say that the Paris edition faced stiff competition. But, this is how highly I think of it: I have lived in Paris for 5 years, and still consult this guide on a regular basis. The pictures are gorgeous, the information is up-to-date, and the portrayal of Paris comes across as so very real. Even if you don't have the cash to come to Paris, you do have the cash to buy this book, and the book is almost better than being in Paris because you get to see pictures of all of the most important things without actually having to deal with the tourists (no offense). My only word of caution is that this should be used as a secondary source of information for a first-time tourist, not a primary source, because the maps are not very good and the practical information section is not really that practical. Overall, though, I highly recommend it.
on 16 October 2005
The tag-line for this book is 'shows you what other guidebooks only tell you', which sums it up - high on pictures, short on information.
I took this book to Paris and found it endlessly frustrating. The layout isn't intuitive, and the detail you need just isn't there.
The maps were the worst point. The authors divide the chapters by the various quarters, as is common, but the maps are dealt with separately. The book is so badly planned that the main areas covered in detail in the description actually fall on the far edges of the maps - we wasted so much time flipping pages to find the other half of the map for where we were. It also doesn't have an overview map of central Paris, meaning there is no way of getting an accurate perspective of where you are at any one time. For example, the latin quarter (one of the very popular areas) is on the far corner of a couple of different pages of maps, and there isn't one that shows all of the Champs Elysee.
It has a whole page dedicated to pictures of Euro's (please, if you need photographs of the money to know what's what then you probably shouldn't be out alone), yet it hardly lists a single price for anything it mentions. Safety advice consists of 'if you're mugged call the police' (thanks, well worth £15 for that gem), although it does have full colour pictures of what policemen and women look like in case you're so culture shocked that you can't see the word 'police' that they all wear on their backs, or spot the utility belt with handgun.
It reads like a tourist office promotion, for example it lists reatraurants but doesn't have the courage to review any of them, and offers few of the useful tips you would find in most good guidebooks such as the best time to visit somewhere or any cultural tips and hints .
The book is full of school-book snippets of trivia about landmarks that franky, you would find out if you visited anyway, and lacks basic information. It tried to do too much (offering historical information and tourist information) and comes well short of the mark on both.
If you're taking kids to Paris, maybe get them this as a pretend version of a grown up guidebook. If you have a map of Paris, access to the internet and the slightest common sense, you won't need it.