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Paris precincts

Many books have been written about Paris. Many songs have been composed. Much art has been devoted to trying to capture the essence of this city which is at once ancient and über-modern; stylish and grungy; ultra-formal yet friendly. Many talk about the pressure of Paris. The stress. The pace. Yet, as this new book shows, Paris can depend on what you make it. And where you go.

For that is the secret. Pick a precinct, explore it, examine it and get to know it. Author Donna Wheeler has curated a book which is her own love-poem to Paris. An Australian who has lived and visited Paris over the decades and knows it well, she has also chosen some trusted locals to give their impressions and secret tips for what to see and do - and eat! - in this charming, yet challenging, city.

Conveniently, Paris is already divided into precincts (arrondissements) so the book follows these, making it easy to hop off the Metro wherever you wish  and follow the sketch maps to the places you want to see.

Want lingerie as only Paris can provide? there's Yasmine Eslami in the 1st. The legendary bookshop, Shakespeare & Company is in the 5th, Alain Ducasse chocolates in the 11th, Chez Camille 'for a slice of Parisian life' and cheese and charcuterie too, in the 17th and 18th, and Prescription Cocktail Club in the 6th. Plus over 200 more pages crammed with pictures, details, addresses and suggestions.

This is a guide to the faces behind the places, avoiding tourist traps, and carefully guiding the reader to the places where the locals prefer to gather, shop, eat and drink. There's advice on etiquette and lifestyle and a Local Lingo section as well as general travel tips.As Donna Wheeler says 'Bienvenue, to Paris Precincts! I encourage you to strike out, roam wide and dig deep, be it by arrondissement or street, or via chef, barista or designer, and claim Paris as your own'. 

Paris Precincts, by Donna Wheeler, published by Hardie Grant Publishing, 2016, hardcover, rrp A$39.95. 

- reviewed by Sally Hammond


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