|by Valerie Rains||France, Paris, Noord-Holland, Amsterdam, New York City, Guidebooks||4|
Comprehensive, all-purpose guidebooks are great for your first few visits to a new place, when you need advice on everything from where to grab breakfast to which hotel is worth a splurge. But when it comes to the old favorites you revisit again and again, a sharper take on familiar territory is in order. Three new books out this month from The Little Bookroom—each compact, colorful, and concentrated—allow you to take fresh looks at iconic destinations.
Karen E. Seiger's Markets of New York City: A Guide to the Best Artisan, Farmer, Food, and Flea Markets ($17) is a shopper's dream. No other American city is more driven by market-style shopping (as opposed to the strip-mall and megamarket models), and Seiger's guide demystifies the process for all comers. In addition to reviewing dozens upon dozens of markets (including full-color photographs of items you're likely to find at each one and profiles of regular vendors), Seiger provides solid information about where to eat or get coffee near each market, and even includes a section of tips for navigating New York City in general.
As if Paris needed anything more to recommend it, Kim Horton Levesque's new book Pampered In Paris: A Guide to the Best Spas, Salons, and Beauty Boutiques ($17) covers more than 50 places to get fussed over in the grand French tradition—or in the Thai, Chinese, or Indian traditions, if you choose. Spa etiquette, recommended treatments, useful terms (memorize this: plus douce means "softer") price ranges, and practical tips (don't save your spa day for Sunday, when most salons close) are all included. Spas are divided by arrondissement, and super-specialized spots for chromotherapy, thalassotherapy, and hammams get their own sections toward the back of the book. (Note to self: Pitching a Parisian spa-review book to a publishing house = a brilliant move. Just imagine the research!) The book also provides beauty-product shopping guides, from old-school recommendations (try the moisturizing Baume Automobile from century-old shop Detaille) to the best local-secret drugstore potions.
Finally, handmade arts and crafts may not be the first things that come to mind when most folks think of Amsterdam, but thanks to Pia Jane Bijkerk's Amsterdam: Made By Hand ($19), they might at least make it onto the chart. This is Bijkerk's second Made By Hand book—the first, out last year, covered Paris—and details the Australian stylist's go-to sources for handcrafted props, accessories, and decorative objets in the city where she currently resides (in a houseboat, no less). Bijkerk even gives a foolproof tip for stepping right into the heart of Amsterdam's true local culture: Instead of heading straight out the doors of the Centraal Station and down tourist-clogged Damrak Street, just turn
left right.* You'll find yourself in the lively, artsy Jordaan neighborhood—incidentally, the first destination in Bijkerk's book's shopping itinerary. One stop I'm definitely adding on my next Amsterdam trip: a visit to the atelier of mixed-media artist (and former Visual Director for Anthropologie) Leslie Oschmann, near the Rozengracht—conveniently located a stone's throw from many renowned design shops.
*Due to an editing error, the wrong direction was inserted. Sorry!