There’s nothing like a walking tour of a new (or much-beloved) city to experience what it might be like to live there, to see and taste and smell what makes a city great. This trio of new guides will lead you to superb spots in three of Europe’s most beautiful capitals.
The eyes of the world are closely trained on London, thanks to the upcoming Summer Olympic Games. But Christopher Winn has been exploring the city for 20 years via his work as a writer, tour guide, quizmaster and author. In I Never Knew That About London he gives a guided tour of London’s past and present via a fact-packed route along the River Thames, “the meandering silver thread of liquid history that runs through the heart of the city.” Graceful illustrations by Mai Osawa, Winn’s wife, accompany descriptions of monuments, gardens, famous people and landmarks. Readers can flip to information about districts of the city, scan the people and places indexes, or simply page through for a more serendipitous experience. From Britain’s first tearoom to London’s first nude statue, there’s something for everyone in this edifying, curiosity-piquing tour.
The table of contents alone will excite Francophiles who pick up Forever Paris: 25 Walks in the Footsteps of the City’s Most Illustrious Figures, thanks to the promise of retracing the paths of Coco Chanel, Victor Hugo, Josephine Baker, Henri Matisse and 23 other famous sorts who’ve called the City of Light home. Each entry by author Christina Henry de Tessan includes a brief account of a well-known person’s experiences in Paris, plus a walk to spots where the subject lived, dined or created—and the jaunts even begin and end at Metro stops. “Research” options are included: For example, in Julia Child’s Paris, readers are advised not only to visit E. Dehillerin, Child’s favorite shop, but to book a table at her frequent lunch spot, le Grand Vefour. Henry de Tessan writes that her subjects “in every single case, were transformed and elevated by” Paris; this book is an excellent way for readers to be so inspired, too.
Walking Rome: The Best of the City on Foot offers a DIY approach to experiencing the famed city without getting hopelessly lost in its busy, winding streets. This entry in a new series from National Geographic contains a variety of itineraries, from whirlwind trips like “Rome in a Day” or “Rome in a Weekend with Kids,” to in-depth tours of some of the city’s fascinating neighborhoods. One route takes walkers from the Pantheon to the Piazza Navona, with descriptions of churches, markets and historical sites along the way. There’s also expert advice on restaurants, shopping and entertainment. The book’s flexible structure and approach should make it popular with all manner of travelers who want to enjoy the beauty and excitement of Rome.