By: Michael Schurmann
Publisher: The Intrepid Traveler
Publication Date: June 2009
Reviewed by: Pamela Victor
Review Date: September 1, 2009
If you have ever watched a movie set in Paris, like “Amelie” or “The Bourne Identity” and sighed “I wish I could go there,” then today is your lucky day, mes amis. Michael Schurmann literally has done the leg work to make your dream a reality in his uniquely refreshing guide Paris Movie Walks: Ten Guided Tours Through the City of Lights! Camera! Action! The author divides your exploration of Paris into ten walking tours that allow you to take a peek through the lens of your favorite movies. Everyone knows that one of the best way to see a foreign city is in the company of a knowledgeable and entertaining friend who knows the city like the back of their hand. This handy book is that friend indeed!
Schurmann divides the tours into three parts: tours of the “essential sights” of Paris (like the Louvre, Notre-Dame, etc.), tours of the lesser known but still notable sights (i.e., Montparnasse, the Opera quarter,) and tours through the city’s renowned working-class neighborhoods. If you still have some juice left in our legs, there is a “Further Afield” chapter highlighting Parisian locales that Schurmann couldn’t bare to leave out, such as street markets, parks, and indoor shopping arcades. The author advises a minimum of three hours for each walking tour, and much more if you take advantage of the many museums, shops, restaurants and popular destinations. Each walk begins and ends at a Metro station, and a map of the system is provided as well as a number of other helpful maps. Paris Movie Walks is peppered with lovely black and white photographs that capture the charming beauty of Paris while stimulating the armchair traveler to stand up and make an airline reservation tout de suite.
Schurmann has thought of everything a walking tourist would need to know. Indeed Paris Movie Walks came about when he realized that friends who visited him in Paris, where he has lived since 1993, were more interested in spots that were featured in movies rather than “endless lists of French monarchs and their annoying mistresses.” Thus the author has written Paris Movie Walks in the engaging, entertaining tone of a friend leading the reader through the cinematic landmarks of Paris. Along the way, he informs about French culture, daily life, major and minor landmarks, restaurants and dining tips, and, yes, even historical anecdotes from time to time. This book is overflowing with handy, precise words-for-the-wise as well as an ample serving of insider’s tips and exclusive tidbits. For example, we learn that the famous restaurant Maxim’s, though featured in “Gigi,” “Moulin Rouge” and “How to Steal a Million,” is considered over-rated. Even if you don’t love the movies, the dining tips alone might be well worth the price of this book.
In addition, the detailed walking directions and narrative that accompany each walk contain a friendly, casual tone while remaining knowledgeable and helpful. For example, he provides these walking directions from the wedding scene in “Trois coleurs: Blanc”/“Three Colors: White:” “Depending on the traffic density, your nerve, and your physical fitness (how fast can you run?), you may find it more prudent to cross via the series of traffic lights to your right…”
Excusez-moi. I haven’t even gotten to the raison d’etre for this book, the movie facts. The primary tours in Paris Movie Walks abundantly overflow with choice cinematic references. Schurmann tells you where to stand and look to provide a shot-by-shot, behind the lens view of certain movies. For example, he guides you to the place “where ‘The Da Vinci Code’ concludes when Tom Hanks makes a nocturnal visit to the Louvre Museum, having finally discovered the answer to the Grail mystery.” Later Schurmann puts you in the spot featured in “Funny Face,” “Amelie,” “Sabrina” (where Harrison Ford and Julia Ormand kiss), “American Werewolf in Paris,” and in the latest version of “The Pink Panther.” The astute cinematic observations liberally provided in this book reveal the author to be a veritable master of the film arts, or as the kids would say a “movie geek.” When it comes to movies set in Paris, Schurmann has done his homework! In the chapter “What to Watch Before You Come,” the author divides a dozen films into neat categories with succinct reviews of cinematic qualities, plot and the film’s ability to represent Paris. A visitor would do well to comb from the plethora of movies in the Index of Films to decide what to add to your pre-travel viewing list.
Quill says: If you love movies, read this book. If you love Paris, read this book. If you love movies about Paris, buy this book and make your airline reservation today.