Thank you, Mimi, for this wonderful review! We are thrilled that you enjoyed Why LA? Pourquoi Paris? Visit The Atlas Heart to enter her giveaway and a chance to win a copy of the book!
“It has been so long since I’ve hosted a giveaway on this blog, but when I got an email in my inbox about an artsy new coffee table book about LA and Paris, I knew I wanted to learn more about it.
The book that landed in my inbox was called Why LA? Pourquoi Paris? by Diane Ratican, illustrated by Eric Giriat and Nick Lu. It’s a colorful book full of captivating artwork and words that paint an expansive overview of both cities.
I’ve heard Paris compared to New York a lot, but rarely have I heard Paris compared to LA. The comparison peaked my interest because, from a distance, it doesn’t seem like the two cities have much in common.
LA is beachy, laid back, with nice weather, and full of people who love to be active and outside all the time. There are almost 4 million people who live in LA alone.
Paris, on the other hand, is cosmopolitan, landlocked, with rainy weather, and full of people who prefer to sit in cafes drinking wine than hiking in the wilderness. It’s roughly about half the size of LA in terms of population.
But on closer look, and as you dive into this book, you can see why these two large metropolises are actually very similar in some way. In both cities, there is a love for fashion and cinema, a lot of famous people, really good wine, the trendiest cocktail bars, and all you could want in terms of art and culture.
Ratican does a good job of comparing and contrasting the two cities throughout the book, pointing out the similarities and the very stark differences in the individual cultures.
I personally love how she focuses on the small differences too, such as tattoo, shoe, and design preferences. And how they can shape a culture and create an identity behind a city, just as much as the more obvious cultural quirks.
Having been a longterm resident in both cities, Ratican’s perspectives were interesting to read through. You can tell how much she truly loves and appreciates each city for what it is.
Another reason I liked this book is because it’s quite relatable for me right now. I’m thinking of moving to Europe next year, and it was fascinating reading through the comparisons that the author, who is a fellow native Californian, made between Los Angeles and one of the most major European cities.
Whenever I’m thinking of moving or visiting a new city or culture, I generally try to read travel literature about the place before I go. This book was a refreshing change to the standard travel books that I tend to pick up. It’s bright, colorful, and fun, but still full of practical information.
I also liked the fact that the whole book is in both English and French. Since I’ve been learning French again, it was kind of a perfect book to challenge myself to read in French, with the English translation right there if I got stuck on any words or sentences.
If you’re looking for a whimsical book that dives into the cultural differences of two adored but often misunderstood cities, this book could not be a better one to pick up.”