Five Unusual Guides for Traveling in the United States

Major U.S. cities are attracting an increasing number of tourists and expats in search of new and original experiences. For those looking to make the most of New York, Miami, Los Angeles, or Chicago, here is a selection of guides written by French travelers.

Destination New York, the very first Francophone guide created online

The third edition of Destination New York was published in 2017. © Cnewyork.net

Although the word “blog” didn’t exist in 1999, that was the year journalist and tourism expert Didier Forray created Cnewyork.net, a French-language website focused on visiting New York. The project quickly developed to include articles, columns, tests, and a forum where Americanophiles could swap travel tips. Cnewyork.net still exists today, and is also available in a paper version. The third edition of the Destination New York guide was published in November 2017, and lists recommendations and top spots and activities contributed by generations of travelers. Visits to the city’s most iconic places are illustrated by the experiences of users. For example, a trip to the Empire State Building is a must, but make sure you get off at the 86th floor instead of the 102nd. And don’t forget your coat in the lobby!

The Louis Vuitton City Guides

A French collective of photographers, Tendance Floue, took part in the creation of the Louis Vuitton City Guides. © LVMH

Los Angeles, New York, Miami, San Francisco, and Chicago have all been honored with their very own guide book created by the Louis Vuitton luxury leather goods brand. The company’s City Guides collection has just celebrated its 20th anniversary, and its mobile app was named one of the best of 2016 by Apple. Each book details the experiences of local journalists and writers, combined with those of a personality invited by the brand (such as curator Nancy Spector in New York, and interior designer Ken Fulk in San Francisco). The French photography collective Tendance Floue collaborated with Vuitton for the collection, producing an in-depth range of images to showcase each destination.

Bonjour New York, poetic city maps by Marin Montagut

Marin Montagut selected 90 spots in New York for his map Bonjour New York. © Marin Montagut

The Bonjour City Map New York mini-guide published by Editions Flammarion lists hotels, restaurants, artisans, perfumeries, vintage stores, and more on an illustrated map. Its selection of 90 original spots makes up an inviting world of destinations that appeal to residents and tourists alike. Following the success of its Bonjour Paris map in 2015, the Normandy-born illustrator Marin Montagut bought himself a plane ticket to New York. “I found it easy to write about Paris, having lived there for a long time. But I started completely from scratch in New York,” he says. “It seemed almost impossible when I first arrived.” He didn’t know the city well, but visited more than 200 places in three weeks. “When I talked to my New Yorker friends about some of the places I had discovered during the day, I was delighted to find they had never heard of them!”

Through the eyes of an expat in Vivre ma ville

Portraits de Los Angeles

Vivre ma ville explores Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York with a collection of portrait. © Hikari Editions

Who better to talk about a city than the foreigners who have moved there? In the Vivre ma ville collection, the Hikari Francophone publishing house records the experiences of expats living in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York through three series of portraits. Bakers, businesspeople, engineers, artists, and others recount their backgrounds, fears, and favorite spots. “This format enables another way to engage with a guide. Readers develop attachments to people based on how similar they are, and are more inclined to visit the destinations they recommend,” says Samantha Vandersteen. The journalist and writer most recently interviewed around a dozen inhabitants in the San Francisco Bay Area, who all offered their different visions of the city.

Cultural gems in I Heart

The 31st issue of I Heart, about Miami, was published in December 2018. © I Heart

One city, one team, one issue. The I Heart nomadic culture magazine is 100-page oddity whose writing staff move from city to city once every three months. The 31 issues (and therefore cities) published since 2010 include a range of American destinations including Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Oakland, Austin, and Miami. As they explore the museums and restaurants alongside the city’s residents, the writers also analyze the culture of each metropolis, presenting local figures, the community’s sociology, and little-known neighborhoods. From interviews with local artists to fashion portfolios, readers can expect a totally immersive experience.

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