Fun reading before that France trip – Stuff Parisians Like


Olivier Magny

Whether you visit Paris as a long weekend trip or stop over for a day or few before you continue on to French wine regions, Paris holds a special allure in itself.  It’s a beautiful city with tree-lined boulevards, imposing monuments, serene rivers and manicured public parks.  The scent of freshly-baked breads and savory meats follow you down each street where beautiful Parisians sit outdoors at charming cafes to sip their coffee and stare – at your shoes.

Yes, one can feel a little insecure sometimes under a Parisian’s scrutiny, but a new book “Stuff Parisian’s Like” is a fun and light-hearted introduction to the Parisian psyche as spun by native Olivier Magny.  Magny is a young entrepreneur who owns a wine bar and runs wine classes and tours in Paris.  The book is a collection of 1-2 page observations of not only things Parisians like – such as Berthillon ice cream, scarves and the Metro – but also how they like to think and act.

The book is a refreshing take on Parisian life compared to another book released earlier this year “Paris Was Ours” a compilation of 32 stories – edited by Penelope Rowlands – written by immigrants or expats whose lives were changed forever by living in Paris.  Both books capture the spirit of Parisians and the realities of living in Paris, but Magny’s perspective is one of a native who attempts to explain to the outside world why Parisians are who they are – in a light-hearted way.

A lot of Magny’s characterizations is based on what he considers Parisians’ belief that Paris is the cultural, political, financial, culinary, fashion, etc. center of France, giving them a sense of superiority and refinement over others.  That is why they like “Bashing Tourists” and “Considering Americans Stupid”, even though several things Parisians like according to the book are purely American, like New York, Clint Eastwood and burgers.  But Magny makes sure we understand that this sense of superiority – real or false – is applied equally to themselves, and why they like “Criticizing Parisians” and “Calling People Beaufs [aka redneck].”

Some people would cringe that Magny would attempt to generalize a real Parisian, but what Magny succeeds in communicating to Parisians and non-Parisians alike is not to take each other too seriously.  As a primer for the occasional traveller to Paris – whether they care to experience Paris like a Parisian or not – it’s a great, easy read.

Stuff Parisians Like by Olivier Magny, copyright 2011, available July 5th.  Published by Penguin Group, New York.