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Book Review: Out of Paris
Days out and weekend breaks around the French capital

by Vivienne Menkes-Ivry


By John Sidgwick

LONDON, 8 August 2002—Parisians love their town but those who can do so are only too glad to get away from it at weekends. On Friday afternoons, droves of them make their way southwards and westwards; slightly fewer go to the north and the east. They rarely go more than forty miles. There is no need to go any further in order to achieve peace and a fix of provincial life, free in most cases from the intrusion of foreign tourists, except in the case of the celebrated targets such as Versailles, Fontainebleau, and Giverny. Their return to Paris leads to regular and enormous traffic jams on Sunday evenings, a price worth paying, it seems.

The majority of these people will be staying with family or in their own country residences or in those of their friends. They are not very venturesome and very often have only a vague idea of the other delightful places similar to their own that pepper the area around Paris. On the other hand, by their faithfulness to their roots, they are in fact contributing to the perpetuation of one of the most blessed features of the world's civilisations, the French way of life, entwined as it is with the spirit of family and friends in age-old settings of warmth and beauty.

Anybody who is staying for a fortnight or longer in Paris can taste of these quiet joys with the help of an absolutely first-class guide, Out of Paris, by Vivienne Menkes-Ivry. Even though it came out as far back as 1999, it is still absolutely up-to-date. The author lived for many years in France. She is unusual as a travel writer in that she does not drive; her guide therefore caters excellently for people who are content to use public transport, which in France is in most cases a real bargain. She also writes beautifully, a pleasant bonus.

I spent an agreeable couple of hours checking out the information provided in the guide. During the course of the forty-odd years I lived in Paris, I visited a great many of the places mentioned. I simply cannot fault the recommendations. Transport, restaurants and hotels are fully covered. There is a wealth of information about subjects of local interest such as historical figures, happenings, buildings etc. I have to confess to having learnt a lot about people and places that I thought I already knew well. This book will accompany me whenever I go to Paris, which, thank God, is fairly often!


Out of Paris

Out of Paris, Days out and weekend breaks around the French capital
By Vivenne Menkes-Ivry
A&C Black Ltd., London ,1999; 256 pages
£12.99
ISBN: 0-7136-4195-9

US Publishers: McGraw-Hill NTC
ISBN 0-6580-0062-4

John Sidgwick was for many years Agricultural Attaché at the British Embassy, Paris. He currently writes on music and culture in Britain and France for Culturekiosque.com

 

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