“You can get ripped off, you can have your pockets picked, some places smell awful, some of the people are rude and arrogant, the whole place is busy, noisy and full of traffic and even some of the food is crap,” write Oleh Butchatsky and Graham Jones in the new book Paris Tragics. “But you can say that about any metropolis. What you won’t find easily elsewhere is the sheer richness of human experience that represents some of the best things ever created by humanity.”
Written by two retired Australian menthe kind of guys who watch sports and don’t typically go in for girly stuff like macarons and Mariage Freres afternoon tea, Paris Tragics is the latest entrant into the crowded field of the anecdotal guidebook to Paris. The title of the book uses Australian slang for what we Americans might card a ‘tard–someone ridiculously into something. The book doesn’t take you far off the beaten track but rather offers you an armchair visit with humorous and quick-paced, to-the-point narration.
If you, like me, enjoy the self-effacing humility and directness so refreshing chez les Australiens, you will enjoy this preamble through the city with observations such as this: “This contrast between external restraint and internal opulence continues to be a definitive feature of French ornamental design.” There are useful tips, too, such as why the seemingly cheap Paris taxi fares are, well, not so much. “when you add the cost of the many tricks (and outright refusals) used by Parisian cab drivers on tourists (indeed on fellow Parisians) it usually works out to be more expensive.”
Graham Jones’s sketches of landmarks are delightfully simple and will undoubtedly remind you of the drawings you may have made on your own trips to the city.