17 March 2006

Navigating Paris:
Don't be in the dark when you get to the City of Light

You might be brimming with confidence before you step out of your hotel and into the streets of Paris for the first time. What you don't know is that within minutes Paris will begin to challenge you.

Don't take offense, she does this to everyone. The important thing is to be prepared and relax. You will not conquer Paris, you will experience Paris. If you think you're in charge, Paris will quickly set you straight. In the timeless words of the Boy Scouts of America, "Be prepared."

One indispensable tool I have used to decipher Paris is TimeOut Paris. A newspaper critic said the TimeOut city guide is "the most hip and culturally savvy I’ve used." And hip it is. It’s written in a casual tone that gives readers credit for having a brain and a sense of curiosity.

TimeOut Paris includes loads of sidebars and ancillary information that other guides omit. With its brief history lessons and invaluable information about the inner-workings of the City of Light. This book has saved the day on numerous occasions.

I once had to tear a page out of my TimeOut Paris guide and head out in search of a hospital. TimeOut and a taxi driver led me to the American Hospital of Paris. I only had a kidney stone, but these are the types of situations one does not anticipate while on holiday. Had I gone to the nearest hospital, I might have encountered a more complicated situation.

TimeOut magazines cover happenings in a dozen cities, including London and New York. In depth information is available in a series of annual travel guides written about cities from Budapest to Boston. I'd suggest you buy the most recent version of the city guide you need. If your local bookseller doesn’t have a current copy, try the TimeOut New York Web site, or the TimeOut Web site in the UK.

Check publication dates. Information changes and you might prefer to wait until mid-spring to buy the most current Paris guide.

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