The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris by John Baxter
Published: 2011 by Harper Perennial
Source: Received from the publisher for review
Paris belongs to its piétons – the pedestrians
Regular readers of this blog, tell me: is there any doubt as to what I think of this book?
It's about Paris. About walking in Paris. About viewing the history of Paris on these walks through the eyes of some of the writers and other cultural luminaries who made their mark in the city: Hemingway, Picasso, Sylvia Beach, to name just a few. It's a book written by a Parisian resident who, I think because he is not a native of the city, still has a bit of the tourist in him to be able to express his wide-eyed admiration of the city and all that has happened to it.
That's not to say that the book is all sunshine and roses about the city -- Baxter describes a few incidents typical of life probably anywhere, but for me, since they take place in PARIS, they seem so much more bearable.
Although not really a travel guide, for those interested in visiting Paris for the first or fortieth time is full of information disguised as narratives that would only enhance the experience; my copy is covered in Post-It flags and highlighted throughout so that WHEN I can plan my next trip I will have new resources available to me. Even for the armchair traveller, though, this book is simply a wonderful escape into one of the world's great cities.
I also recommend another John Baxter memoir set in Paris: Immoveable Feast: A Paris Christmas; an account of his attempt to prepare a traditional French Christmas meal for his French in-laws. A wonderful holiday read.