One observer remarked that there was nothing wrong with France except for the French! Love them or hate them, the French have their own Gallic charm and character which at once renders them amongst the most interesting and infuriating of any people of the West! In short, they are intriguing and have a history which rivals that of any Old World country – to visit France is to take a journey not just of several thousand miles but back in time several thousand years.
One Hundred & One Beautiful Small Towns in France
By Simonetta Greggio
While France celebrates its culture and history in cities such as Paris, Lyon and Toulouse it is only when you get out of the major urban areas and into the countryside that you begin to get a taste of the real France or la vie Francais!
France is primarily an agricultural country with a huge section of the population working and living on the land. The small towns in France are where the true French way of life is to be found. Whether you are looking for the statue of Cyrano de Bergerac in Bergerac itself, megez in Arcachon, calvados in Caen or La Loup de Rocamadour (the Wolf of Rocamadour) in, where else but Rocamadour – then this is the book for you.
It is not coldly detailed as many guides are but tries to give you a taste of small towns and places to go visit and hopefully stay a while so you can truly enjoy the unique culture of France.
France (Country Guide) (Paperback)
By Nicola Williams and others
This is a collaborative work from seven different writers, each with their own views on France and covering different cities and rural areas. As the work of constructing the guide has been split between so many different reviewers you are assured of two things – differing points of view on the same topics and reviews by people who truly know about the areas they are talking and writing about.
I also liked this book because it contrasts the views of French and foreign guide reviewers – you are sure to get an honest opinion from different perspectives using this volume which can make the difference between a great vacation and a wasted trip.
France (Eyewitness Travel Guide)
By Roger Williams & Robin Gauldie
This is a very comprehensive volume and you will not get lost for lack of something to see or do. The attention to detail is pitched at the right level – guide books so often deteriorate into histories or a collection of personal anecdotes which defeat the object.
Informative without being overbearing and the writers hit the target when it comes to providing enough basic information to cover the mundane while providing more advice and tips when it comes to the more interesting. For instance, points of interest such as museums or art galleries come complete with direct dial telephone numbers and email addresses, which is something you usually don’t find in other mainstream guides.
The photography and image reproduction are first-rate with cutaways and diagrams marking standing out and which are the signature of the Eyewitness series.
The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography
By Graham Robb
For many, Paris is France but too the cognoscenti, the real country is to be found in the provinces. So to with the history of the country which though it may have Paris as the focus, once you have covered a fraction of this volume you will quickly see that Paris is overrated to the extent that it has eclipsed the role of the rest of this vibrant and interesting country.
Robb has taken the country in from the comfort of his bicycle (cycling is important in France – just ask Lance Armstrong) but while his original intention was to create a history of France, what he has come up with is a book which contains innumerable, intriguing places to visit and soak yourself in the culture and history of the area.
For instance, 100 years ago, only 20% of the population spoke French – the rest spoke Basque, Breton and 55 other dialects and languages – the story of France is not about the French, but about the numerous different cultures and people who today make up France.
Quiet Corners of Paris
By Jean-Cristophe Napias (Author), Christophe Lefebure (Photographer) & David Downie (Translator)
Think Paris and iconic sights come to mind – the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysses, Louvre, Sacre Cours, Notre Dame and at night, Moulin Rouge.
Except this is not Paris. These are just some of the sights which are located in Paris but they are not what makes up the City of Light. You find Paris in more than the central arondisements which are the focus of virtually every other guidebook – instead, the entire city is taken in and this is positive in itself because it draws you out of the iconic imagery of what Paris is and intrigues the reader enough to go visit the places and neighbourhoods where real Parisians hangout.
By 42spain from Pixabay