Keith Spicer
Photo: Ilona Hurda

Keith Spicer


“Spicer, a kind of cultural James Bond, slides in and out of the bistros and salons of French society as easily as 007 quaffs a martini ... a delightful book.”

— Jim Bittermann, CNN’s Senior European Correspondent

“How to love Paris: the handbook.”

— Jacques Rigaud, longtime President of Radio-Television Luxembourg (France)

“Keith Spicer is a master painter who reveals deep truths behind misleading appearances. He describes the strange customs of Paris natives — sometimes with impertinence, always with humor, and above all with a constant tenderness.”

— Henri Pigeat, former CEO of the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency

“Your observations on the way the way we [Parisians] live day-to-day are both funny and rich in emotion. Some of your photos draw delightfully on the past. Others express perfectly how Parisians take ownership of public policies.”

—Bertrand Delanoë, Mayor of Paris

“What a surprise, and how in every way delightful! I'm enchanted by everything about Paris Passions -- its appearance no less than its contents.”

— James Eayrs, professor emeritus, Dalhousie University

“Parisian aperitifs: a lively, quirky celebration of the City of Light... vintage Spicer: torrential, urbane, self-absorbed, smart, scattered and completely mesmerizing... you'll never get bored... a lively and clever celebration of Paris that uses humor and wry observation rather than cliché...”

— Doug Fischer, Ottawa Citizen

“...a rollicking and fascinating look at all things French mined from a lifetime of interest.”

— Nelson Wyatt, Canadian Press

“Buy it!”

— National Post, Canada

“I must confess that (being unfamiliar with [Spicer or his] work, and a skeptic by nature), I didn't expect such an intelligent, yet accessible and amusing, and finely written book. There is depth and breadth and poetry - and truth.”

Susan Rosenberg, buyer, Brentano’s bookstore, Paris

“I devoured this book with great joy, and with many reflections and questions sparked by the author’s style and formidable knowledge of people and things. Coming from a friend of our country, his sometimes cruel but always lucid diagnosis forces us [French] to ask if we correspond to his descriptions”

— Pierre Braillard, senior executive, International Institute of Communications (Paris)

"Canadian and ex-pat journalist provides a whimsical guide to his many passions in Paris. Both thoroughly accessible and exhaustively thorough, the book places Spicer’s journey through Paris and its surrounding suburbs within a global and historical context. With a reporter’s wry eye for viewing life sans rose-colored glasses, he seamlessly segues between newspaper column-like sections on gastronomy, parks, architecture, seasonal festivals, historical figures, socialism, taxes, health care, sports, fashion, art, music, film, flirting, ghetto riots, the European Union, “Omnipresident” Sarkozy’s love life and various other little-known people and places equally fascinating for being drawn in such exquisite detail. Though photos are included, they pale in comparison to Spicer’s enthusiastic, visceral descriptions. However, several typos and printing errors prove distracting, and the last chapters concerning politics and the EU are so jam-packed that they could be the beginnings of another book. But these are minor quibbles, for the work is well-infused with a mind-grabbing celebration of its subject. Even the poetic flourishes fall into humor before cliché. At the Marais, “Parallel ghettos of the mind get along just fine here,” while Le Salon “is the setting for France’s enduring self-image as a nation of peasants, indeed a people that thinks it invented eating.” Even as the author lightly ribs on French narcissism, coming down a bit harder on the country’s knee-jerk reactionary leftist politics, his enduring romance with France shines through when discussing such things as the “hazards” of Paris, which include cholesterol and sunburn, and the fact that you may fall in love with “somebody, or anybody, or everybody.” Though Spicer discovered the City of Lights over half a century ago, he doesn’t fail to recapture why he fell in love in the first place. Contagious exuberance will make you want to give this beloved city a first glance or a second, or even third, chance."

— Kirkus Discoveries