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Analysis of Travel Information as Documented in French Tourist Guidebooks: A Case Study of Paris (1855-1870)
Since the mid-Nineteenth Century, Paris has experienced an immense transformation. The capital city of France has become one of the major tourist hubs in Western Europe since holding events such as 1855 and 1864 World’s Fairs. Moreover, Paris has historically become the home to notable religious monuments and cultural landmarks that attract visitors from all over the world. This prosperity of tourism has triggered a great amount of publications for Paris travel guidebooks in the mid- Nineteenth Century. By analyzing tourist guidebooks from the digital library of National Library of France and other databases, this paper provides an overview of the characteristics of French tourist guidebooks on Paris between 1855 and 1870. Also, analysis of practical information (accommodations, budget, meals, and transportation) were included to illustrate how the guidebooks lead their readers while touring around Paris. Furthermore, information of tourist sites included in the guidebook was examined in order to find out tourist spatial representation in Paris. French tourist guidebooks on Paris from 1855 to 1870 were published in compact and portable size, providing scientific and systematical information on the city. Catering for those readers with different interests, “intellectual” and “practical” were two styles of guidebooks that were developed. With regard to their content, it was found that most of these guidebooks provide “tourist itineraries” from one day to thirty days for their time in Paris. This phenomenon explains that tourist activities gradually popularized and diversified during this period. As for the tourist space, the boundaries and special tourist spots were discussed. We were able to find out that the Champs-Élyseés area and the Old Boulevards on the Right Bank were always the main focus of sightseeing interest in these fifteen years. Furthermore, guidebooks provide different ways to gaze upon Paris: panoramic from the top, working place and death-related sites. These spots take readers to get a glimpse of some basic structures beneath the veil of Paris. In conclusion, this research shows that Paris was built as a bright, hygienic, and splendid place in the discourse of tourist guidebooks. They have constantly adopted a rhetoric that glorifies imperial power and spectacular landscapes. Visitors were guided to experience only the surface of Paris, a “Paris myth” that is within their expectation.
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