Many books and blogs about Paris struggle to define what makes the locals so… Parisian. After all, people have pondered that for centuries. Not to mention the last decade of how-to volumes telling la wanna-be what to eat, wear and drink.
Now four real Parisians have written similar manuals, each based on a blog about Paris—or, in one case, on expert credentials. Of course, they are in French. But do you have to be fluent to enjoy them? Not at all; these people know the market for books about Paris! So here’s the rundown on both books and blogs.
La Parisienne, by Inès de la Fressange
Flammarion; 25 euros
The world knows Inès as a fashion muse, working mother and all-around Frenchness coach (French Elle calls her “our Marianne of style”). Here she compiles, in scrapbook format, “all my shopping tips and tricks, my beauty secrets and my favourite places in Paris.” An elegant volume, featuring witty sketches by Inès—with her daughter Nine as model. The format is très simple: bullet points, lists, addresses, even Post-It notes.
Give as a gift? Yes! Beautifully presented, funny and useful. If you read French even a tiny bit, it’s all the more fun. Anglophones will love it too.
Great for: Style fans, fashionistas, tag hags, mothers (working or not), and femmes d’un certain age—just like Inès.
My Little Paris
Chêne; 14.90 euros
This is a book born of a blog, one centered around a newsletter of events and offers in Paris. The book reprises the blog’s greatest hits: where to learn aquabiking, find Parisian pizza with truffles, hear a Harlem gospel service or discover “deluxe” vintage. Its amusing illustrations alone have brought new subscribers to the site—just as the My Little Paris blog has gone national, covering other cities in France. Not as offbeat as it pretends yet plenty of useful tips.
Give as a gift? Yes. Lighthearted and lightweight. Easy to use, with information clearly listed, item by item; no need to read French.
Great for: Both adventurous visitors and adventurous web surfers (most of the offers are found through websites; almost all the shops, specialists, etc., can be contacted online). Great for any Paris bookshelf.
Dessine-Moi un Parisien, by Olivier Magny
Editions 10-18; 12.50 euros
From its title (a poke at the famous line from Le Petit Prince) to its origins (Magny’s blog Stuff Parisians Like), this is the ultimate coup de genre. Magny started his blog—which has always been in English—to help publicize his wine company, O Chateau. In French his audaciousness is so witty that few of his targets could resist it. Result? A Christmas present of choice for locals that became a best seller. It’s beautifully designed and, if you read French, hilarious. If you aren’t fluent, most of it is in English online, plus an English version of the book is due out this summer.
Give as a gift? It gets my vote! Stylish, compact in size and value for the price.
Great for: Bilingual expats, would-be Parisians and anyone wanting a real taste of Parisian wit. Especially good for French teachers, students, lovers of design and creators of the perfect shelf of books about Paris.
Comment (Ne Pas) Devenir Parisien(ne), by Caroline Rochet
Leduc; 12.90 euros
This young lifestyle writer is a Marie Claire regular who also blogs about Parisian nightlife at Say Who? Her book—the title translates to How (Not to) Become Parisian—is funny, honest and structured around sets of “rules” (hey, it’s Paris!). It offers an amusing guide to the merits and faults of Parisians male and female, gay and straight. There are lists of fashion musts and must-nots, café tips, hot hangouts and how the perfect Parisian arranges everything from her schedule to her closet. As the title suggests, it’s all tongue-in-cheek.
Give as a gift? Maybe. Best for the bilingual or for students of French.
Great for: Bilingual (or nearly bilingual) trendies, students in Paris and those who love Parisian nightlife.
Editor’s note: Take a peek at our Paris-inspired bookshelf and visit our Amazon store.