Thursday, May 3, 2012

Paris Guide Review - RICK STEVES' PARIS 2012

First off, I have to say that any time I read a guide by Rick Steves (and friends,) I feel like I've come home and am snuggling comfortably on the couch for some a good trip. This was true immediately when I received this guide, perhaps because I know Paris pretty well and love the city more than almost anything.

I also appreciate his attitude about being a "temporary local." This is how I like to travel, perhaps somewhat because that's how I learned to travel from my Aunt when I was young and from Rick Steves during my trek across Europe in 1986 - see my post: Travelling Through Europe with Rick Steves - 1986 Style.

Touring Paris, even if just while reading this guide, will be exciting, entertaining, and fun. Rick Steves' descriptions and tours bring Paris alive. For me, it just whets my appetite and tempts me to fly out of here TODAY!

What I LOVED about RICK STEVES' PARIS 2012:

  • The descriptions of sites are fantastic. Having been there many times, I still learned a lot and found many places that I need to work into my bucket list. His hints about lines and which passes are useful are great!
  • The neighborhood tours, complete with maps of the route and descriptions of the suggested stops, make them easy to follow. It's a great way to save money and avoid getting trapped on a touristy tour.
  • The guide is small but packs SO much information. It's easy to store in a backpack and not look like a dork when you whip it out to see what's next.
  • The guide briefly covers all the details needed for preparing for the trip, including wonderful cultural clues. I especially loved that he included my most important tip: Up your level of manners - never forget to say "please" and "thank you" EVERYWHERE! Believe me, even if that's the only French you learn, you'll get a long way with those two phrases used generously.
  • He did a good job finding a variety of places you'll love to stay. Although my list of places to find apartments is different, I agreed with his assessment that if you stay in Paris more than a week or are traveling as a family or group, get a place of your own instead of a hotel room.
  • As usual, I found his attitude respectful and reverent. He shined with the historical backgrounds presented and his cultural sensitivity.  
What I didn't like:
  • Although the guide covered a wide variety of sites and museums, he didn't really get off the beaten path. He covered the things most people know or have heard about. I will review another guide that really has me wanting to step "out of bounds" a bit more.
  • The map of the city was poor, concentrating only on the central arrondissements, even though he covered some areas outside of these neighborhoods. There are plenty of great maps out there, but it's nice not to have to juggle more than one book at a time. 
Overall, I highly recommend RICK STEVES' PARIS 2012. My general attitude is to read many guide books BEFORE you go and only take one or two. This should definitely be on your list to slide in your day pack!

For more information about planning a trip to Paris, visit ParisMadeSimple.

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