May 6, 2013


A lot of big things are happening in my life in the next 6 days. I will take my last final exam. I will graduate college. Last, but certainly not least, I will jet off to Paris! 

I'm firmly in the camp that believes that planning a vacation is half the fun. I'm nothing if not a planner, so this week I'll be sharing my best "prep for paris" tips and resources. Hopefully, they will help some fellow travelers, or at least sooth some souls full of wanderlust. Shall we? 

Photos from the instagram feed of Paris in Four Months

A travel post without guidebooks would be a bit crazy. While I can't attest to how well they've guided me through the city quite yet, I can easily say that these books have helped me to mentally prepare and orient myself to the wonders that I am about to see. 

Rick Steves' Paris 2013 by Rick Steves. If I had only chosen one guidebook, this is the one I would reach for. Full of information about each of the arrondissements and attractions, general guides about Paris and tips for making the most of your trip. He also has audioguides available for download that I may take advantage of. 

Let's Go Paris: The Student Travel Guide This book is for the budget traveller. I technically won't be a student when I travel, but it was still interesting to get a younger perspective on the city and what to do while visiting. It's a humorous guidebook, and isn't a dry read at all. A great introduction to the city. 

Lonely Planet's French Phrasebook and Dictionary I don't know a lick of French. Of course, I've enlisted my french-speaking friends to give me tips here and there. I'm going to try my best to immerse myself in Paris by greeting and conversing with Parisians in French, but the language is going to be a huge barrier for me. This little book is pocket sized and will fit nicely in my bag. It's going to be my lifeline. Yes,  I know that most people will speak English but I would hate hate to be the Americans who take advantage of that. 

Leisurely Reading 
I am such a bookworm that I would feel underprepared if I didn't pick up any book and every book about French culture before I left. Reading books about Paris is what inspires me and will provide me an interesting perspective when I visit for myself. After all, they say you never travel to Paris for the first time. You have already been there by living through stories about it. I've already written about a few of these but I've kept quite a few a secret as well. I haven't read all of these on the list, but I plan to before/during my trip. Enjoy! 

Paris Was Ours: Thirty-Two Writers Reflect on the City of Light by Penelope Rowlands - I've written about this book before on Lovely Explorer. I actually read it before knowing that I would be traveling to Paris. A great read (and I might even reread it before leaving). 

Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik - This book by the NY Times writer was beautifully written. It is about his own time spent in Paris with his young family. It was both easy to read and thought-provoking when comparing French and American lifestyles and mindsets. 

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain - I also read and wrote about this book prior to knowing about my Paris plans. Still one of my very favorites. It has also shaped my ideas about what cafe culture was like back in Hemingway's time. 

Entre Nous: A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl by Debra Ollivier - I read this book in a day. A very easy and whimsical read about the French Girl and how she curates her life. Pieces of this book have really stuck with me, but is definitely a girly, chick-lit type reade. 

Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy by Alice Kaplan - This book did two things for me, educated me about Paris and educated me about Jackie Kennedy. I'm not complaining on either count. A very smart, sometimes dense but always interesting read about her time studying abroad in Paris.

Stuff Parisians Like by Olivier Magny - I haven't gotten to reading this book yet, but it's next on the list! It claims to be "discovering the quoi in the je ne sais quoi." I'm in! Written by a native Frenchman, I'm very excited to get this perspective in me before jetting off. 

Talk to the Snail: Ten Commandments for Understanding the French by Stephen Clarke - This book is another one on the to-read list. It looks like a very quick read. Very simple, yet hopefully informative and engaging. 

Paris in Mind by Jennifer Lee - I picked this book up randomly in the library the other day. It seems right up my alley. Combining pieces from notable literary characters like Edith Wharton, Gertrude Stein and Sylvia Beach among many others, I hope this book refreshes me on the role that Paris has played in many of those classic authors that I have come to love. 

Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light by David Downie - I've heard this book is just wonderful for giving little glimpses of what Paris is like. It's a collection of short stories, which I can't wait to dive into. 

All You Need to Be Impossibly French by Helena Frith Powell - This book makes it on my list for it's humor and wit. It is supposed to be a slightly sassy commentary on Paris and the French. 

How the French Invented Love by Marilyn Yalom - One of the books that I am most looking forward to reading. The French are known for their passion and this anthology reveals the history of love and passion in Paris. 

Paris in Love: A Memoir by Eloisa James - This book is about a family that packs up and heads to Paris for a year. Looking forward to another book similar to Paris to the Moon. 

A Flaneur: A Stroll through the Paradoxes of Paris by Edmund White - Definitely one of the more scholarly books on my list, I'm hoping to learn about Le Flaneur (the wanderer) before wandering through Parisian streets myself. 

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway - The only classic that made it on to this list. Such a shame. Hemingway is my absolute favorite author and I've never read this book about his Paris years. I've saved it for my actual travel days and you can bet I'll devour it. It's crazy that I may be sitting at a cafe where Hemingway once sat! 

I'll be back for more prepping for paris goodies for you later in the week! 


  1. Wow, looks like you have quite a reading list there. I've never read A Moveable Feast either, although I believe I own it! Adding that to my to-read list. Hope you have an amazing trip!

  2. Rick Steves 4 Prez! He got me through my semester abroad. His walking tours are great!