What the Critics Have to Say
There are guides to every aspect of Paris... and then there are Thirza Vallois's extraordinary Around and About Paris. This three-volume walking guide by a long-time resident unveils Paris arrondissement by arrondissement, street by street. Packed with history, anecdote and curiosity, it brings the city alive.
I think we can safely toss all other Paris guidebooks aside. Paris is made for walking and Thirza Vallois' guides are made for Paris. There can be no higher praise than when I say they come close to the standard set of the world's greatest guide book, J. Link's 'Venice for Pleasure'... and they should soon achieve similar legendary status.
If any city in the world deserves this kind of thorough. loving treatment adoration, actually - it certainly would be Paris. This three-volume guide is a complete course in what the streets have to offer and what Parisian history has been all about. Treat yourself to this treasure.
Thirza Vallois' Around and About Paris has no glossy pictures... but its manner is every bit as alluring as its subject... It's an engaging geographic history, lithely written, full of details, anecdotes, characters - and worlds to discover, no matter how familiar you are already with Paris when you begin reading. Vallois captures - and opens up for all to taste - the incomparable sense of the past one experiences walking the streets of Paris. This is a book for those who think of Paris as an urban paradise - the curious gazer, the laid-back ambler, the wanderer, the seeker of this city's wonders.
. . . she [Vallois] has given us a series of guides which will last for years to come. Schools and colleges which encourage project writing will find the three volumes of estimable value for individual enquiry.
Then again, it might be less strenuous to invest in a good guidebook.
For in-depth coverage of the sights, sounds and smells of Paris, nothing tops Thirza Vallois' Around and About Paris books...
For anyone who loves Paris and would like to know more about its historical and literary associations, this is a well-written and astonishingly informative companion.
Thirza Vallois comes much nearer the mark with her riveting tour history of Paris. It is an unpatronizing, anecdotaal, user-friendly, walking guide to the where, who and why of each building, park and street-name in Paris. If you live in Paris or are just fascinated by it, those books are for you.
The reader can sit back and enjoy her [Vallois] enlightening account of the city. She brings alive its sights, walks and gastronomic tradition and punctuates her guide with anecdotes of famous residents.
Would you like to have a personal guide to show you around Paris?"
Thirza Vallois's Around and About Paris guidebooks are the ultimate walking tours of the city. She knows the history of every rock in the sidewalks, and it takes a daunting three books for her to share her knowledge. Reading them made me take on a cycle of French history books just so I could put some context around all the details she provides.
Aveyron, A Bridge to French Arcadia
Thirza Vallois is among the world's experts on Paris - her three volume work Around and About Paris placed her immediately in the pantheon of contemporary Paris connaisseurati. Aveyron, A Bridge to French Arcadia is an implicit acknowledgement that if you seek to understand Paris, you must go elsewhere than Paris. Part travelogue, part literary prose, all true, once again Thirza Vallois has made connections between all of those pieces that go into a place: its history, its cuisine, its relics, its towns, rivers, mountains, farms, crops, animals, and most of all, its people. [...] If the Aveyron is too far away for you to visit - do not worry. Thirza Vallois will bring you there with this latest flower in what is becoming a marvelous bouquet.
This book is not written as a travel guide but a revelation. It delves so deeply into so much of the Aveyron that it brings it to life on the page. And it is so well presented by the author that every chapter is a fascinating read and hard to put down.
Thirza Vallois is no stranger to travel writing, and it shows. Her latest book, Averyon, A Bridge to French Arcadia, is an entertaining trip through an area often overlooked by visitors. Often using the present tense, the author creates the feeling that the reader is right there with her. Ranging freely back and forth from the distant past to the present, Vallois paints an inviting picutre of a place intent on preserving its rich history and traditions while opening up to the future.
I would have fared better in history and geography with Thirza Vallois as my teacher. Drawing on her considerable insight into France from her specialist area of Paris – Vallois holds an agrégation from the Sorbonne and is the author of several acclaimed guides to Paris and of the entry on Paris in the Encarta Encyclopædia – she is drawn by a chance encounter in a restaurant to investigate the Aveyron, one of the last vanishing bastions of ‘la France profonde’. Each whimsical quest inevitably delivers a surprise, managing never to sound twee – José Bové and the realities of the 21st century are just as present as the burons and the Knights Templar – nor ever boring: quite a feat when she spends at least four pages on the engineering masterpiece that is the Millau Viaduct.
I always encourage folks interested in writing travel articles to read good travel writing -- you learn a thing or two by studying the masters. In Thirza Vallois, you couldn't ask for a better example. she's just written a spectacularly engaging book about the region called Aveyron, A Bridge to French Arcadia. I urge you to get your hands on a copy of her book and read it (or any of her books for that matter) with your writer's cap on.