Many reputable guidebooks will provide necessary information and suggestions on things to do, places to stay, weather information, etc. However, the thing to look for are guidebooks that address your needs and provide the information you are looking for.
For me, one guidebook is not enough. I always take a few with me each time because I never know when I will want in-depth information on a particular place, or if I just want a casual overview so I can know what to expect of the neighborhood.
The monuments have not changed, so old guidebooks can be great fun to read for the descriptions and language used in years past. However, new guidebooks offer insights that may not have been available a long time ago. Things like website addresses, different/more contemporary perspectives, photos, information on new ways of travel (like cooking classes, tasting tours, walking history tours, etc…). And of course, updated restaurant and hotel information.
Most of all, guidebooks will include history, descriptions, photos, opening times, helpful hints, maybe even maps and more. Remember that information on opening times may change at a moments notice because of a strike, a breakdown, for lunch or who knows what. Also, the buildings and sights are old and things happen. Expect something unexpected to happen at least once on your trip that will throw you off your plan. Take it in stride, there is something else you can visit or see – keep your guidebook handy!
Following are some guide books that I have found helpful. These guidebooks may not be cool or cutting edge, but they include solid, trustworthy information and some things that you may be surprised to find (ie. roller blading tours).
Michelin Green Guide Paris (Green Guide/Michelin)
In depth coverage of sights in Paris. It is in my satchel each day in case I want to sit for a few minutes and really read some details about the place I am visiting. For some places, like Notre Dame, it includes self-guided tours. Also, in the restaurant section check out the places with a “Bib Gourmand” icon by it – a smiling Bib (the Michelin man” with the tongue out licking his lips. According to the criteria, the Bib Gourmand designation is for “exceptionally good food at moderate prices.” (click image to order from Amazon)
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: France
by DK Travel
I thought their slogan used to be, “We show you what other guides only write about” or something like that. And when they first came out, they seem to have revolutionized tour guides by including drawings, photos and even cross sections of buildings – in color!!! A great overview with maps, bird’s eye view of small sections of neighborhoods, illustrations with explanations of details in architecture, history and timelines. (click image to order from Amazon)
Frommer’s EasyGuide to Paris 2018 (EasyGuides)
by Anna E. Brooke, Margie Rynn
A go-to source if you want to find solid recommendations for restaurants and hotels that are authentic and with people who are familiar with American visitors. That is definitely not a bad thing – it just means that at restaurants it recommends, you may find tripe, but also a steak frites that you could easily enjoy in a true French neighborhood restaurant. Great overall information, suggestions, maps and tips for planning, as well as detail. (click image to order from Amazon)
Lonely Planet Paris (Travel Guide)
by Lonely Planet, Catherine Le Nevez, Christopher Pitts, Nicola Williams
I feel like Lonely Planet Paris is more youthful in its writing than Frommer’s. Some times the information in the two will overlap, but I feel like reading both of them together presents a fuller picture and provides more information to help make a decision. Honest reviews and recommendations when assessing hotels in your planning stage. Great overall information, suggestions and tips for planning. (click image to order from Amazon)