Before your Paris trip, select a good guidebook such as Pauline Frommer's Paris. But, if you really want to get the most out of Paris, do some extracurricular reading. Terrance Gelenter, director of Paris Through Expatriate Eyes (www.paris-expat.com), recommends these books as a good place to start. The books, along with reviews and interviews with some of the authors, are available online in the company's Paris Bookstore.
Sightseeing in Paris
Eiffel's Tower by Jill Jonnes
Hard to believe but the Eiffel Tower was once considered an ugly eyesore. When Gustave Eiffel's design was selected for the 1889 World's Fair in Paris, artists and intellectuals signed protest letters against its construction. But, lucky for us, the grand monument was built, and the rest is history. Read all about it in Jonnes's book, along with an account of the colorful characters who descended on Paris for the World's Fair, including Buffalo Bill, Thomas Edison, Vincent Van Gogh, and Paul Gaugin.
Food Shopping and Flea Markets
Markets of Paris by Dixon & Ruthanne Long
Somehow nothing feels more Parisian than wandering through the many markets -- food, flowers, antiques, and more. This book is an informative guide with insider tips and interesting tidbits about Paris' celebrated open-air and covered food markets, the booksellers along the Seine, and the centuries-old flea markets. Among others, this book guides you through the Marché aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux (flowers & birds), Marché aux Timbres (stamps), and the famous flea markets: Marché aux Puces de Clignancourt and Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves.
Paris: Made by Hand by Pia Jane Bijkerk
You didn't come to Paris to shop in international chain stores. Discover more than 50 places that specialize in fait main (made by hand) items. How about glass jewelry, hand-woven scarves, vintage housewares, or hand-knit baby clothes? Find exceptional treasures in the shops and studios where interior decorators and stylists search out unique goods.
The Best Paris Restaurants
Hungry for Paris: The Ultimate Guide to the City's 102 Best Restaurants by Alec Lobrano
If you don't have a friend in Paris to tell you all the great places to eat, Alec Lobrano's book will do the trick. The former European correspondent for Gourmet magazine has lived in Paris for over 20 years and reviews restaurants based on this criteria: the warmth of the welcome, the taste of the food, the quality of the service and the atmosphere. He includes a range of places from haute cuisine (upscale gourmet) to bistro du coin (corner bistro) for all occasions from casual to festive and for every budget.
You might even want to attend one of Lobrano's dinners while in Paris: The Paris Supper Club
Writers In Paris: Literary Lives in the City of Light by David Burke
Just think of all the literature Paris has inspired. From the 15th century to today, Paris has been the muse for poets, novelists and playwrights -- from Molière and Genet to ex-pats such as Beckett, Hemingway, and Henry Miller. This book provides a "novel" way to tour Paris. With maps, descriptions, and photographs, explore Paris neighborhoods -- the Latin Quarter, the Marais, Montmartre, Montparnasse -- by following in the footsteps of some of the world's best writers.
Other Good Reads: A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway; Paris Was Yesterday by Janet Flanner; My Life in France by Julia Child; I'll Always Have Paris by Art Buchwald.
More Literary Activities in Paris
Take a Literary Tour: Paris When It Sizzled (tel. 06-70-98-13-68; www.paris-expat.com; Duration: 2-plus hrs; Cost: €175 per person)
Get an idea of what Paris was like during the 1920s, les années folles (the crazy years), when Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Henry Miller, Janet Flanner, William Carlos Williams, James Joyce, and other literary luminaries were living on the Left Bank.
Attend a Literary Festival: The Shakespeare & Company Literary Festival (www.festivalandco.com) June 18-20, 2010; 11am-7pm
Put on by Paris' famous English-language bookstore, Shakespeare and Company (37 rue de la Bûcherie; tel. 01-43-25-40-93; www.shakespeareandcompany.com). Storytelling and Politics is the theme of this year's festival held in Réné Viviani square, right next to the store. Readings, panel discussions, and book signings in English and French.
The Paris in New York Literary Festival (www.paris-expat.com) Oct. 16-17, 2010
Can't make it to Paris? Spend a weekend in New York discussing great literature about Paris with well-known authors.
Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers on our France Forum.