Book Review: Paris, An Inspiring Tour of the City’s Creative Heart

Paris: An Inspiring Tour of the City's Creative Heart - Janelle McCulloch

Book: Paris: An Inspiring Tour of the City’s Creative Heart


Author: Janelle McCulloch


Genre: Non-Fiction/Travel/Paris


Summary: Paris is an inspiring tour through the city’s most charming streets, revealing best-kept secrets and hidden gems at every turn: ateliers overflowing with fabric and notions, lush courtyards, charming cafes, vibrant markets and elegant boutiques. Packed with lavish color photographs that capture the true spirit of the city, this book is a treasure trove for those who love style, design, fashion, food and - of course - Paris! - Chronicle Books, 2011



I got this book at an Anthropolgie store in Colorado. It’s not my typical way of buying books, but I don’t think I would have found it anywhere else since Anthropologie is known for selling books based on travel, cooking, and fashion. I also love Paris so I thought this would be a good book to indoctrinate me to the geography of the city.


I can say for certain that this book is not for first time trip takers to Paris. McCulloch is a veteran traveler to Paris, so this book contains only the secret places that she has discovered in her travels to the city. That’s not to be said that this book would be necessarily uninteresting to first time travelers - it just won’t have all of the typical spots you might think of to visit when you go to Paris. She tends to avoid the popular hot spots that most tourists would go to, instead focusing on secret jewels of the city or places that only the locals would know about it. These places are still interesting to read about and you can still try to visit them - you’ll only have to reconcile with the idea that you might not be going to the “typical” sights of Paris because of it.


You’ll also need a dictionary for this book from time to time as McCulloch does not translate any of the French she uses in the book. People who study or speak French will be able to translate the phrases and words with little effort. This is another reason that I believe this book isn’t for first-time travelers of Paris.


The book itself is divided into chapters based on a specific district (or two if the district doesn’t have much to begin with). She covers the majority of the districts, but does leave one or two of them out for reasons unknown. This is one of the more stranger details of the book. Why claim the book is about Paris when she doesn’t even include all the districts? You’ll have to forgive her on this as she doesn’t give any explanation as to why she doesn’t include all of the districts. From there, it is further divided into topics such as architecture, fashion, food, and gardens in case you wish to focus on a certain type of location rather than all of them at once.


Her descriptions of the various shops, gardens, museums, etc., are interesting and can be vivid at times. The photography compliments the written work very well and I would recommend this book on the photography alone. It’s very vibrant and it makes you wish you could enter the photo so you could explore the space being depicted.


Unfortunately, she does tend to be limited in her word choices for her entries. She repeats certain words too much for my taste. An example would be the word “cute”. It can be off-putting, so, be aware of that if you decide to buy the book. In spite of this, she does sound like a good tour guide, keeping the information condensed enough to give you an idea of what the location is like without explaining too much.


Over all, this book is best suited for Paris appreciators, casual admirers or fanatics. I wouldn’t recommend this to a beginner for a guide book of Paris. This book is for a very specific group of people, not the general populace.


I give Paris: An Inspiring Tour of the City’s Creative Heart an A-.




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