Paris is a perennial dream vacation destination for many travelers. That's one reason why Frommer's has been covering the city for 65 years now, starting with our first guidebook, Europe on 5 Dollars a Day, and continuing with our latest release, a new edition of Frommer's EasyGuide to Paris.
The guidebook is fully revised and up to date for those planning to visit the French capital in 2022, following the two-year tourism lull caused by the pandemic. Longtime Paris resident and frequent Frommer's author Anna E. Brooke has carefully crafted the guide with an eye toward what's new and what endures in a city that's more venerable than its Gothic architecture and as fresh as this morning's croissant.
Brooke shared some thoughts with us on Paris, travel, and the new guidebook in an email exchange. (The text below has been edited for length and clarity.)
FROMMER'S: How did you become our resident Paris expert?
ANNA BROOKE: I first moved to Paris from the UK on my year abroad as a French language student. I loved it so much that I came straight back after university and have now been here 20 years. I was obsessed with the city—its 19th-century architecture, the museums, and the beauty of almost every cityscape.
I’ve been a Paris/France scribbler for the last 18 years—and with Frommer’s for more than half that time. We’ve done seven guidebooks together, the EasyGuide to Paris being the most recent. What amazes me most is that I never get bored writing about the city. There’s always something new to discover.
What was it like to research a guidebook during a pandemic?
AB: It was very strange. As I first started updating, many places were still closed and getting information was sometimes like pulling teeth. But what became quickly (and reassuringly) evident was that very few places had actually closed down. The thing I was least prepared for post-lockdown was seeing the city with less crowds. As I researched, it sometimes felt as though I had the streets and museums to myself—which was actually quite nice.
What's some new stuff in town that you're excited to share with readers?
AB: There are a couple of places to keep your eyes peeled for. Firstly, the Hôtel de la Marine, a new art museum on Place de la Concorde. You’ve got the Crillon palace hotel on one side and this mirror image of it on the other—a sumptuous neoclassical palace built in the 18th century to first hold the king’s furniture, then (after the Revolution) to house the French navy ministry. The building now contains the Al Thani art collection—one of the largest private art collections in the world, spanning the ancient world to the present day. There’s everything from Egyptian treasures and Chinese Han dynasty sculptures to Mayan masks.
Another fab place is the Collection Pinault, a brand-new contemporary art museum in the city’s former Commodities Exchange building, the Bourse du Commerce in Châtelet–Les Halles.
(Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection © Tadao Ando Architect & Associates, Niney et Marca Architectes, Agence Pierre-Antoine Gatier / Photo Vladimir Partalo)
Walk us through your idea of a perfect day in Paris.
AB: I live in the 11th arrondissement, so my perfect day starts there, with a croissant from Terroirs d’Avenir at 8 rue Paul Bert. The croissants there are flaky and buttery and frankly some of the best I’ve ever tasted. For coffee, I always hit the Marais, across from the Bastille. It’s a gorgeous part of town, where gay bars and cool boutiques mingle with Renaissance palaces.
If you like Les Misérables (like me), a good spot to slurp your coffee is in the courtyard of the house where Victor Hugo wrote part of the book: La Maison de Victor Hugo museum on Place des Vosges. It’s free to get into, and inside you can see period rooms dressed up with objects linked to his life and writings. Outside, your coffee is served below old trees by a little fountain.
Lunch? It has to be at Aki Café (75 rue Ste. Anne) in the Japanese quarter by the Louvre. The katsu curry is to die for.
From there, I either like to walk through the Tuileries gardens or, depending on the exhibition, visit MAD, the decorative arts exhibition in the northern wing of the Louvre palace, before nipping along to the Fumoir (6 rue de l’Amiral de Coligny), opposite the Louvre museum, for what is hands-down the best hot chocolate in the city.
View this post on Instagram
Not long after that, it’s aperitif time. My perfect drinks and dinner are to be had at Au Petit Panisse (35 rue de Montreuil)—an old-world bistro and the place to taste chef Jeff’s creative takes on classic French dishes at prices way below what you’d pay for the same level of excellence elsewhere. Check out his Instagram @schildejeff to see some dishes.