Friday, 2 July 2010
Book Review : 24 Hours Paris - Marsha Moore
STOP PRESS ! 2 copies currently up for grabs on my blog right here - good luck !
At the beginning of the year, I reviewed (here) Marsha Moore's fascinating and quirky guide to the British capital, 24 Hours London. Well, she's back with a follow-up guide book, this time uncovering the hidden "trésors" of Paris, capital of romance, elegance and, well, France !
Having roadtested the hour-by-hour structure of the guidebook with the London tome, Marsha has kept everything that worked so well in the first book. The pages are bursting with surprising, unique or just downright bizarre ideas of things to do in Paris that even people (like me) who have visited the city many times will never have heard of and would never have imagined in their wildest dreams ! As well as the originality of her ideas for excursions, Marsha has kept the handy themed day-out plans scattered throughout the book, such as 24 Hours Romance, 24 Hours with the kids, 24 Hours of Fear or 24 Hours of Food. These pages give a handy cross-reference to all the ideas within one category and are a real time-saver if you're planning a day out. There is a new feature in 24 Hour Paris, that didn't appear in the London guide, in the form of the 24 Hour Facts - Marsha regales us with snippets of knowledge that you can reuse to impress everyone at dinner parties, my favourite being : "It would take around 24 days, using every hour in the day, to briefly view all the exhibits in the Louvre". Maybe that's a clue and the next book will be 24 Hours Louvre !
Forget the old faves like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. Marsha will take you to such surprising places as the I Love You Wall where you can see over a thousand I Love You's in more than 300 languages or the hidden world of the graffiti artists at work in La Kommune. You can take your pick between the dog cemetery which is the final resting place of Rin Tin Tin but also horses and fish ; watch one of Shakespeare's plays in an outdoor theatre surrounded by Shakespearean-themed gardens ; or test out a stripper school to make your other half say Ooh là là !
Some of the places of interest are things that the locals wouldn't even think to tell you about, like early morning markets, the bus route that will take you past the main tourist sites for a handful of centimes, grabbing the front seat of the automated metro so that your kids can pretend they're driving the train, or going on a DIY-guide at your own pace, courtesy of iAudioguide.com.
A few of the places I did actually know and have already visited, but even then, Marsha has insider knowledge up her sleeve. At the Père Lachaise cemetery, we found our way to Jim Morrison's grave and saw the tombs of various other famous people but nobody mentioned the headstone showing an "excitable" male figure that women rub themselves up against as a fertility symbol ! While we wandered around the Quartier Chinois, nobody directed us to the Chinese supermarket that has more daily visitors than the Pompidou Centre !
In a country reknowned for its gourmet dishes, Marsha steps up to the mark, telling us where to go for a gastronomical tour of the world without leaving the capital, taking in (amongst others) North African, Breton, Indian and classic French cuisine. I'm sure even the locals couldn't tell you where to go for a wheat-grass shake in a vegetarian restaurant or the best addresses for quintessentially English puds (Rose Bakery) or Vietnamese cooking (Saigon Sandwich).
If you're planning a trip to Paris, make sure you arm yourself well in advance with Marsha's guide, a selection of highlighter pens, post-it notes and at least 24 hours to make the most of her infinite wisdom and insider knowledge. Bon voyage !
star rating : 5/5
RRP : £9.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Prospera Publishing; 1st edition (12 May 2010)