1. Travel
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Paris, Paris - A Review

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


paris paris, david downie

Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light by David Downie

David Downie

The Bottom Line

Going to Paris for the first time? You'll want to read this book to see what you're likely to miss. Serious travelers who've been there will want to read this book to see what made Paris into what you see today.
<!--#echo encoding="none" var="lcp" -->


  • A delightful excursion into the nooks and crannies of one of Europe's top destinations.


  • After 303 pages, it's over--and you'll wish it wasn't.


  • 303 pages loaded with excursions to the interesting corners of Paris as well as to the offices and homes of notable (and notably quirky) Parisians.
  • An evocative memoir of the little things that make Paris what it is today.
  • Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light would make a fine gift for that Francophile in your life.
  • Alison Harris' black and white photographs bring historic Paris alive.

Guide Review - Paris, Paris - A Review

If you've researched Paris as a tourist destination, you'll likely know all the basics. Yes, you know can get underground in Paris by taking a sewer or catacomb tour for example, in which you will see but a tiny piece of the limestone voids webbing the city's crust. But what happens in that vast and stinky underground labyrinth after the tourists have gone?

Author David Downie has lived in Paris since 1986. When he's not at the keyboard, he gives personal, custom tours of Paris--and over the years has poked his nose into many of the city's most interesting nooks and crannies. Let him describe the denizens of darkness called Cataphiles--lovers of catacombs, and the cataflics, the police who chase them down. It's a whole different world down there, and you aren't likely to hear about it from the guy with the umbrella on your coach tour.

..."To elude the cataflics or other catofiles, they toss smoke bombs then disappear into the labyrinth. Some get lost for hours or days. Some get hurt. Some have no doubt died underground, like Philibert Aspairt. In 1793 this doorman at the Val-de-Grace convent descended into the cellars to fetch a bottle of liquor; he turned the wrong way and was found eleven years later under what's now Rue Henri Barbusse. The spot has been a cataphile pilgrimage site ever since."

If above-ground curiosities are more to your taste, the world of Parisian Artisans Mr Downie presents is fascinating, not only for its vivid description of the ateliers and tools the artisans use to ply their trades, but for the government's active participation in keeping these endeavors alive.

If you'd like to ride with the boat people of the Seine, or travel back to the Paris of Coco Chanel, or find out what it takes (and took) to light up Paris in order to earn it the title of "The City of Light", this is a book that will satisfy those bites of curiosity and more.

And what about those little dogs Parisians bring to dinner with them in dimly lit, romantic restaurants? Well there's a chapter on that, too.

About the Author

David Downie is a resident of Paris, where he writes on travel and gastronomy and gives custom tours. He also spends time on the Italian Riviera. He speaks fluent Italian and French.

<!--#echo encoding="none" var="lcp" -->

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.