Review by Scott W. Clemens
For the most part, I prefer the country and small towns. Yet there are in this world a few cities that I look forward with eager anticipation to visiting again and again. With its intertwining layers of history, art, and the art of living, Paris captures the imagination like no other. I spent some time this past week reminiscing about previous trips, while browsing through Paris-Insider.com, the newly launched website that serves as a travel guide to the best of Paris.
Over the past four decades I’ve spent more time in Paris than any other foreign city (with the possible exception of Alba, Italy). So I looked at Paris-Insider.com with a critical eye, looking for any gaps in the information. I couldn’t find any; it covers all of the familiar places, as well as several I haven’t yet had the pleasure of visiting.
The website offers a plethora of articles, suggestions, advice, tips on how to get the most out of your visit, and links to pertinent websites that can help you plan your trip, as well as fascinating facts and anecdotes (both historical and personal). The information is presented in small chunks, so you’re not likely to be bored. In fact, you can lose yourself, drifting from one subject to the next, or following the links.
Musician/author, Beth Marlin, has spent 16 months writing articles about Paris, and she provides the content of the website, from fascinating bits of historical information, to personal observations. The photos are so evocative that browsing this site is almost like taking a mini-visit to Paris. If you’ve been there, they’ll bring back memories. If you haven’t been, you’ll want to go.
While Beth provides the content, her husband (who has an impressive background in various internet businesses), is behind the design, which is clean, clear, and easy to navigate. The index on the left side provides 18 links to articles on familiar attractions such as Museums, Churches, Parks and Gardens, as well as Hotels, Shopping, and Transportation. There are tabs for History, Stories about Paris, Secret Spots and Day Trips from Paris.
The Restaurant section is further divided into Tea Salons, Wine Bars, Michelin-starred restaurants and Museum Restaurants. Eating out in Paris is always an experience, from the tiniest brasserie to the most regal restaurant, but it can be expensive. So here you’ll find some alternative suggestions, such as a bakery, a cooking school, the best crepes in Paris, and Falafels. Foodies can also find suggestions on where to find the best ice cream, chocolate, cooking implements, farmers markets etc.
Having dragged children around Paris to all of the museums and parks we adults wanted to go to, I wish I’d known about those places in Paris with attractions most suitable for kids, which you’ll find under the Kids section of the Paris-Insider.com website.
As strange as it may seem, one of the best aspects of this site is the Google advertising. The ads that accompany the articles are so targeted that you’ll find hundreds of useful links to related subjects.