France on Friday: Paris Walks

Paris from the Heart Unboxed
Paris from the Heart Unboxed


NOTICE: I will give this collection (which is priced at $45.00) to one reader chosen at random from those who comment on this post. American Resident, Over 18. (By  Friday April 8)


Destination: Paris, France

Book: Paris from the Heart: Ultimate Walking Tours to Fun, Fashion and Freedom (November 2010) by Jan Dolphin

This beautiful little collection of travel guidebooks to Paris, Paris From the Heart, has been sitting on my shelf since last fall, when the author, Jan Dolphin, sent it to me. I looked at it from time to time, but didn’t know if I really would write about it, since I don’t generally do guidebooks at A Traveler’s Library.  However, I decided to do yet another France on Friday today and tell you about a very different kind of guide to Paris.

The first way in which this guide is different, is that it has one general and five location-specific, separate, thin, paperback books. I love looking at the package. The author, an interior designer, has assembled this package with true artistic flair. All six books enclosed in a cardboard jacket, sport antique posters, gorgeous photography, and charming hand-drawn maps.

Luxumbourg Garden The Thinkers
Luxumbourg Garden The Thinkers

When I was looking at guidebooks for my trip to Paris, I bemoaned the fact that they generally are too large to lug around, pull out when you stop for a croissant aux chocolate. (Diversion: I recently learned from Alexandra, hostess at Chez Sven, the green B & B in Cape Cod, that chocolate crosssants originated with a traditional after school snack of a bar of chocolate between two slices of white bread. fin de diversion)

Since I would only be covering a small area of Paris, I only needed in-depth guides to one arrondissement (neighborhood) at a time, so I thought perhaps the Paris from the Heart collection would have served my purpose.
In addition to an Introduction booklet with essentials like packing tips and a little vocabulary, the Paris from the Heart collection covers walking tours of the Left Bank, the Right Bank, a walk along the Seine, Montmarte, and Day Trips–the essentials for a first time trip to Paris, so in theory, you could carry  just the booklets you need for the day.
In reality, while this quirky guide might make an interesting travel companion, it will not substitute for a more detailed guide and accurate maps. Dolphin starts by telling us how she first became enamored with Paris.

Evening in Paris perfume
The sapphire blue bottle
Evening in Paris perfume
Evening in Paris perfume newspaper advertisement

Dolphin’s Proustian memory experience begins not with a pastry, but with the aroma of Evening of Paris perfume in its exotic sapphire-blue bottle. (Diversion: As a child, I wanted to buy one of those beautiful blue bottles as a present for my mother every Christmas. And I yearned to be all grown up and glamorous enough to wear a perfume with such a sophisticated ambiance. Although the blue of that bottle has always been my favorite color, I later realized that truly exotic perfumes are not generally available at the drugstore in downtown Killbuck, Ohio. fin de diversion) This initial trip down memory lane, sets the stage for the author’s presentation of her Paris.

The beauty and charm of such an intensely personal guide falls down if you want or need information about something the author has not chosen as HER personal favorite. She loves art, shopping, antique buildings. Her enthusiasm is underscored by liberal use of superlatives and exclamation marks. But she also invites you to create your own journal as you go. Each book leaves many lined blank pages  where you can personalize the book.

I think it would be interesting for a first-time visitor to follow one or more of these suggested routes through Paris, and make liberal notes about the things she saw and experienced. A book gains value when someone writes in it, and what a lovely gift that would be from mother to daughter or granddaughter.

Cobblestone street in Latin Quarter
Cobblestone street in Latin Quarter

Anyone who yearns for a romantic Paris will enjoy looking at these beautiful little books. However, if you have your own ideas about what you want to see, or if you like to wander undirected and make your own discoveries, you definitely will need a supplemental guidebook for your travel library.

Photos: Most of the pictures here are from my own trip to Paris, and if you would like to reproduce them, please ask me about rights. The two Evening in Paris pictures are linked to the web pages from which they came.

How do you use a guidebook? Do you want one that gives you a specific route, or one that describes many places so that you can map out your own walk? Personalized guide or more matter of fact? (Some people had already commented before I added the offer to giveaway my collection–they are eligible. See Notice at top of post.)

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About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

14 thoughts on “France on Friday: Paris Walks

  1. This set of guide books sounds like a lot of fun. Its nice to see new and fresh ideas from independent sources. I’m also a sucker for creative packaging!

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful comments – I just want to clarify that when it seems the tours are
    taking you to MY favorite places, they are actually just part of everything I love and that’s 99% of Paris. People that have gone on the tours recently have remarked on how it takes you to so many unique areas through the neighborhoods while still seeing the major monuments and tourist sites
    and that’s what the tours are all about – A map of Paris is always a must for an overall view but the
    tours keep you on track – I’ve been lost before in my early travels in Paris and it’s not always fun &
    rewarding – there were times it was late and I was alone and I knew I was in the wrong place at the
    wrong time!

    Jan Dolphin, Author: “Paris From The Heart” www,

    1. Jan: Thanks for dropping by . The readers always love to talk to the author in person. And I know a lot of people are hoping to win this set of books in the drawing.

  3. When we did finally get to be in Paris, it was just for two days and we just wandered around, sure that there would be something interesting all the way…and that’s how it turned out. The streets were so beautiful and of course, we did go to the Louvre and to the Eiffel Tower, to be completely overwhelmed.

  4. I love everything Paris and these books look so charming! The funny thing about me and guide books is- I like ones that are matter-of-fact but I read them on the plane then never use them when I get there. I wind-up getting annoying with reading and walking and then just leave them and wander!

  5. oh, i love this – what a PERFECT book(s). they seem so very beautiful – and i love your personal touches. i think this is my VERY favorite article here. 🙂

    since i can’t walk much, i love guidebooks that give me a sense of place, and also, great food recommendations! 🙂

  6. what a beautiful collection of books; they would be fun to simply look at when taking one of my armchair trips to Paris. And what a wonderful childhood memory was sparked by the reference to that blue bottle and Evening In Paris perfume. . .I’d completely filed that memory away!

  7. I prefer figuring a place out on my own- in fact, the best way I’ve found to find interesting things in a new place is to get lost. 🙂 It is amazing what one can find when one is lost!

    I liked the concept of having blank pages to be filled with my own discoveries.

  8. A bar of chocolate between two slices of white bread? Quelle decadence!

    I prefer the guidebooks that let me map out my own walk, since my husband and I like to keep our options open on vacation. You never know when you might want to stop for a three-hour lunch….

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