This pioneering paper is the first to consider the contribution of a new type of urban literature to perceptions and portrayals of the city in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. It focuses on London and Parisian guidebooks, a genre that has been little studied to date, particularly those of: Germaine Brice, Description nouvelle de ce qui’il ya de plus remarquable dans la Ville de Paris
(1684); F. Colsoni, Le Guide de Londres
(1693); and Edward Hatton, A New View of London
(1708). The article is the first to establish the significance of language primers as source for tourist guidebooks and the prevalence of lexicographers among those producing them. It examines the modern type of non-antiquarian urban guidebook as part of the new urban consumer culture. It also explores the genre’s contribution to a novel form in the writing and understanding of the city in the period focussed on the contemporary and the experiential, rather than the traditional orientation towards the historical and the monumental.