Lonely Planet has created a useful guidebook to Paris. The book has a lot going for it, portable size, a lot of information, good maps, and, worth the price of admission, several walking itineraries.
This guidebook is perfect for somebody that wants to see all the key sights in Paris. It hits all the high points, all the critical attractions that every tourist will want to see. It describes those sights in just enough detail to entice visits, but not give away the discovery of something new. The book is arranged by geographic area, with excellent maps per section. Normally, I recommend a much more detailed map (the arrondissement by arrondissement maps - Plan de Paris par Arrondissement: Paris Street Guide by District (English and French Edition)(Multilingual Edition)) to accompany every guidebook on Paris. This book is different; the locations it recommends are perfectly placed on the detailed map pages. The included pull out map is pretty similar to the laminated Streetwise map (Streetwise Paris Map - Laminated City Center Street Map of Paris, France), personally I would still add the Streetwise map to this guidebook.
In order to save space, the guidebook does away with most of the photographs, and hotel recommendations. Descriptions are also kept brief to allow more of them to be packed in this book. The layout is still pleasant and easy to read. The book is the width of two iPhones and about 25% longer, so it is portable. In fact this is the kind of guidebook to take when walking in Paris. All the massive Fodor, Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and Rick Steve's books can stay in the US or in the hotel.
For the first time visitor to Paris, this is just about the ideal guidebook. The walking tours are well thought out, and are nearly perfect. Those three tours bring together all the other sections of the book and hit the essential greatness of Paris.
This is a departure for Lonely Planet. Normally, Lonely Planet guidebooks present the least expensive everything, almost always at the exclusion of potentially expensive, but worthwhile activities (restaurants, hotels, museums, etc.). Where I have a problem with this book, the author leads with a recommendation to eat at Tour d' Argent. This is one of the most expensive and overpriced tourist traps in Paris. It is very difficult to follow other pricier restaurant choices after something this far afield.
The other complaint I have is about the cultural section of the book, trying to condense down something that is fairly complex into 20 or 30 pages. The big guidebooks do this slightly better. It would have been better to leave off these thumbnail descriptions and either expand the sights, restaurants, or add photographs.
It is somewhat difficult to decode which areas are really exciting and well worth visiting, and which are simply there as a stop on the requirement to see or list everything. I had a hard time deciding if La Bastille would be worth a walk over spending more time in Le Marais (La Bastille is hardly worth the walk) because they were both described in alluring terms.
I lived near Paris for over two years, and have visited many times for work and vacation. I have spent a lot of time in this fabulous city, most recently for two weeks in June, 2012. I can say with confidence that this is a good guidebook. Somebody visiting this city for the first time could do much worse. For somebody that has travelled a lot or has already visited Paris, this is not the guidebook. I personally prefer the teNeuse Cool Paris and AAD Paris. Those two books do a better job displaying the unusual and interesting parts of Paris (Cool Paris, AAD Paris (Art Architecture Design)).