I’ve been to Paris three times and each visit was much too short (seriously, my stays have always been four nights or less). My ultimate dream is to spend a month in Paris one day or more realistically, two weeks. Every trip I’ve taken to the City of Light has always been about crossing off those stereotypical Parisian tourist experiences-the Eiffel Tower, a boat ride on the Seine and competing with the mobs of people at the Louvre. They’ve all been wonderful but I’m long past due for a “soak in la vie Parisienne” kind of trip. And by this I mean do things like having a picnic along the Seine (after I’ve purchased all of the necessary goods from every shop that ends in an “rie”-i.e. patisserie, frommagerie), searching out highly touted restaurants and cafes (on my previous trips to Paris I was not the foodie I am today and really only had average meals).
When I was asked if I wanted to review a book entitled The Paris Style Guide I think you can guess what my answer was. Elodie Rambaud has written an atypical guidebook to the City of Light and I think that’s one of the reasons it’s such a worthy title in the travel guidebook spectrum. Plus, as a Paris resident and a magazine stylist and decorator for over a decade, Rambaud is certainly well-versed in the styling arts field.
The Paris Style Guide is most likely one of the prettiest travel guides you will ever own, starting with its hardback finish and beautiful cover photographs of macarons and parfumes for starters. The inside and outside covers of the book also contain black and gray maps of a particular area of the city. And needless to say, the color photographs are also enchanting. While there are certainly a couple of photos of those famous Parisian landmarks, it’s the non-famous things (a flower market, candles from a famous and historic candle shop) that set this book apart in the best of ways.
Lest you think it’s a guidebook that talks strictly about design and style and nothing else, think again. Rambaud includes everything from when to visit Paris and how to spend the perfect weekend there, to her recommendations on everything from her favorite hotels to restaurants to sweet indulgences (an absolute must if you ask me). I really enjoyed the writeup on her favorite Paris markets since visiting farmers markets and food halls is one of my favorite things to do when I travel.
I particularly liked the way that Rambaud breaks down the chapters by topic (textiles, nature and botanicals, vintage, took box, and more). And so within each chapter there are listings of stores and workshops that correspond to that chapter’s topic. Rambaud provides a brief summary on the store, its history, as well as contact information and an added plus for the visitor, the nearest metro station.
Being a lover of all things global and ethnic, I particularly liked going through the World Decor chapter. Paris has become such a melting pot in the last half century with immigrants from many of France’s former colonies settling there, and this is highly visible in both its culinary offerings as well as its shopping opportunities. From Senagalese woven mats to South African baskets to Indian treasures, all of the stores listed in the chapter are ones I know I would love to check out.
The shopping chapters in any travel guidebook are typically small and unhelpful, so the fact that The Paris Style Guide is basically a shopping guide to one of the best cosmopolitan areas in the world make this book an indispensable resource.
The Paris Style Guide is definitely one of those books you can enjoy from “afar,” especially if you have no planned trips to the City of the Light in the immediate future. It’s a book that allows you to see another side of Paris, one more from a native angle as opposed to regular travel guidebooks which are strictly geared towards the tourist. Its photographs are enchanting and will leave you mentally planning a trip to Paris as you peruse its beautiful pages.
This is a book that I would highly recommend to any francophile!
Disclosure: I was given a complimentary copy of The Paris Style Guide but as always,
all thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.