Paris Revealed – The Secret Life of a City by Stephen Clarke

If you have never visited Paris, this book will give you the behind-the-scene scoop of the city broken down by arrondissements or districts. If you have been to Paris, then this book is going to make you want to jump on the next plane back! 

I went to Paris last year, as one of my stops on my honeymoon, and I was definitely infected with the “Paris Syndrome“. This is a real thing! This is when “Having idealized Paris as the perfect romantic European city for a long time, once in the city they feel disappointed with what they find.”

It could have been because of the rude people we encountered, the overpriced EVERYTHING or the complicated subway system. But I was not as elated as I thought I would be when I arrived in the uber-romantic city of Paris.

After reading Paris Revealed, I felt like I had to give Paris a second chance. I would definitely like to go back and see if Paris can redeem itself.

This book was quite comical! Stephen Clarke plays off the stereotypes of typical Parisians and shows that there might be a little (a lot) of truth behind them. 

The chapters include topics on: Parisians, Pavements, Water, The Metro, History, Romance, Sex, Food, Fashion, Cinema, Art and Apartments.

One might wonder why there would be an entire chapter on ‘Pavements’, but there is some fascinating  tidbits in there. For instance, there are 484,000 tress in Paris. 96,500 of those trees line the Parisian pavements, and each one of these trees are microshipped. The microship embedded in its trunk keeps a record of the trees age, the vaccinations it has been given, and general notes on its health. Crazy!

In the ‘History’ chapter Clarke touches on one of Paris’s most celebrated writers, Marquise de Sevigne. 

In ‘Romance’, it discusses the modern tradition of hanging a lock on the fence with your lover on the Pont des Arts. Typically, you leave your initials on it, and you keep the key. It is to symbolize your love and it supposed to ensure your swift return to Paris. 

Every paragraph as something new and interesting to say. Once you bypass the relentless self-promotion performed by Clarke, where in each chapter he mentions a reference to another one of his books (A Year in the Merde and 1000 Years of Annoying the French). But I guess his use of repetition worked as a sales tactic because I do have an urge to read them now. 

This books tells you of the best places to see, while steering you clear of some of the other not-so-great attractions. I thought this book was a great guide to places one might not see other ways. Clarke takes you off the beaten path and brings you to less touristy but still incredible must-sees while in Paris.

If you have a secret love affair with Paris in any way you will 100% enjoy this book!



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Filed under Non-Fiction

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