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The 18 Best Paris Guide Books: Explore the Real Paris

There’s so much to see in Paris. Even if you get your travel inspiration from magazines and blogs, it’s also helpful to have a Paris guide book. This curated list includes the best general Paris guide books, pretty neighborhood guides, inspiration for historical and cultural walking tours and insights into the quirky corners of Paris.

The Best Paris Guidebooks and Paris City Guides

I’m a recovering bookseller and an unrepentant book nerd, so you can trust me to give you solid recommendations for the best Paris travel books. Even though I write guides for Wayfaring Views, I still sometimes use physical guide books myself for helping me figure out logistics and find cool things to do.

(This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you choose to purchase, I’ll make a small commission.)

The Best Paris Guide Books for Trip Planning

All of the major publishers issue general Paris city guide books, including Fodors, Frommers, Michelin and DK Eyewitness. However, my go-to guides are always Rick Steves and Lonely Planet.

Paris Guide 2019, Rick Steves

The Rick Steves travel guides are thorough, practical and budget-friendly. He covers all of the basics and has good advice for how to avoid tourist trap restaurants, where to do your laundry and a prioritized (if somewhat predictable) list of top sights.

Paris Travel Guide, Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet guides began by targeting the budget traveler and they have remained pretty true to their original mission. I appreciate their tips for saving money, suggestions for varied itineraries and their willingness to recommend offbeat attractions (like the Sewer Museum in Paris, which is very interesting and not as smelly as you might imagine.)

53 Paris Travel Tips, Rory Moulton

This goofly little guide book is full of practical tips including advice for how to avoid long lines, ideas for “Sunday Funday” and where to find ninjas. “Several hints were unique to this book and not found in any of the other Paris travel books I’ve read .” It’s only $4.99 on Kindle and worth checking out.

The Little Black Book of Paris: The Essential Guide to the City of Light, Vesna Neskow and Kerren Barbas Steckler

This little black book is like your little black dress; small and versatile. It includes insider tips and top pics in a package small enough to fit into your purse.

Read More: Use my insanely practical guide for maximizing four days in Paris. It includes a rich mix of top sights and offbeat corners.

Paris Travel Books for Kids

Mission Paris: A Scavenger Hunt Adventure, Catherine Aragon

Sightseeing can be tiring for kids but Mission Paris brings art and history to life with this life action scavenger hunt. Your kids will hunt for clues on the front of the Notre Dame, find mysteries in the Louvre and earn points as they find treasures all over Paris.

Kids’ Travel Guide: France & Paris, Shira Halperin

Your kid’s adventure can start at the airport with this workbook. It has quizzes, coloring book pages, a diary and fun facts about France. Great for kids up to ten years old.

These kid’s books are also available as Spain travel guides in case your itinerary includes that region as well.

Walking Guides to Flaneuring in Paris

A Flaneur is an urban stroller. S/he’s someone who tackles a city by walking its full length and breadth. The concept of flaneuring was born in Paris and popularized by Baudelaire. Paris is the ultimate walkable city and I believe that its major attraction is simply wandering a cool neighborhood like the Marais or the Left Bank. The following books celebrate that spirit.

Flaneur: The Art of Wandering the Streets of Paris, Federico Castigliano

This book offers lessons on how to get lost in Paris and wander the streets with an open mind. It’s descriptive, languid and a very anti-touristy travel guide for Paris.

Forever Paris: 25 Walks in the Footsteps of Chanel, Hemingway, Picasso, and More, Christina Henry de Tessan

This book features walks designed around cultural figures who were heavily influenced by their time in Paris. You get some background on the artist/author and then a short tour of a neighborhood where they lived, worked, danced and drank.

Tesson has also compiled a walking tour card deck called City Walks Paris: 50 Adventures on Foot.

“Without Paris, Picasso would not have been Picasso”

John Russell

The Streets of Paris: A Guide to the City of Light Following in the Footsteps of Famous Parisians Throughout History, Susan Cahill

Unlike the above, this book is more like an homage to specific neighborhoods in Paris. The book features stories of historical figures who found love, life and tragedies in the arrondissements of Paris. It brings Paris down to a very human scale.

Cahill has also written Hidden Gardens of Paris: A Guide to the Parks, Squares, and Woodlands of the City of Light, which features serene spots tucked deep into the corners of Paris.

The Most Beautiful Walk in the World, John Baxter

Baxter has turned his experience giving literary walking tours into a memoir that offers a history of Paris through the lives of literary geniuses like Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Earnest Hemmingway. In addition to Baxter’s musings, the book includes a map with a list of cafes and literary haunts.

Paris in Stride: An Insider’s Walking Guide, Jessie Kanelos Weiner and Sarah Moroz

These two expats have developed a guide to walking in Paris that goes beyond the typical travel guide. It’s beautifully illustrated with Weiner’s water colors and it offers practical advice for Paris visitors, and armchair inspiration for wanna be visitors.

Pretty Little Paris for Foodies, Creatives and Shoppers

The New Paris, by Lindsey Tramuta and Charissa Fay

In recent years, a new wave of creatives have energized Paris with an open minded energy. Tramuta de-fetishizes the classic view of Paris by celebrating modern creatives and craftspeople who are bringing a fresh sensibility to Paris. The book is also littered with some fantastic street photography.

Read More: Get a taste modern Paris creativity with this guide for finding the best street art there.

Markets of Paris, Dixon Long and Marjarie Williams

This updated edition features twenty markets, covering most of Paris’ arrondissements. These markets sell food, antiques, arts, crafts, flowers, postage stamps (?) and all manner of knick knackery. The book does a thorough rundown of each market with addresses and hours of operation.

Paris: An Inspiring Tour of the City’s Creative Heart, Janelle McCulloh

Pretty photography provides the entree into a personality profile for each arrondissement. McCulloh features the best of each with listings of cool architecture, boutiques, haute couture, food, and cultural institutions.

The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris: The Best Restaurants, Bistros, Cafés, Markets, Bakeries, and More, Patricia Wells

Wells is an authority on French cuisine and she has assembled 427 entries which take the foodie from cheese shops to Michelin starred restaurants. “This book provides everything you need to know about eating in Paris with recommendations related to price, location, and taste.”

The Weird Little Paris Travel Book Full of Oddities and the Arcane

Hey, we are all about the alternative itineraries here at Wayfaring Views. On my most recent trip to Paris, I enjoyed visiting the creepy and meloncholy Pere Lachaise cemetery. David Sedaris wrote about his favorite Parisian taxidermy shop in Me Talk Pretty One Day (listen to it on audio, you will thank me.)

So, it should be no surprise that I’m recommending at least one Paris guide book full of weird relics.

Curiosities of Paris: An Idiosyncratic Guide to Overlooked Delights… Hidden in Plain Sight, Dominique Lesbros

If you aren’t into art, skip the Louvre and seek out some of Lesbros’ oddities. The book gives historical context to the architecture, signage, statuary in the offbeat passageways of Paris

Get books for free! Some of these books are free with a Kindle Unlimited account. If you don’t have a Kindle Unlimited account, you can get a 30-day free trial HERE.

More Travel Planning Resources for Paris

Of course, you aren’t going to buy and read all of these Paris travel books. But I do recommend that you check out a mix of traditional Paris guide books along with some of the more niche choices like the walking or shopping guides. Doing so will get you off the tourist trail and into the real Paris. Enjoy your trip and happy trails.

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Plan your Paris trip with the best Paris Guide Books and Paris City guides. This reading list of 18 books will give you practical advice and inspiration, showing you pretty neighborhoods and get you out of the tourist traps.