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Guidebooks for France

Pauline Kenny

Start your trip planning by reading guidebooks. These books will help you decide where to go and how to plan your trip. Bring your favorite guidebooks with you; good guidebooks and maps will make your trip more enjoyable. We always carry a shoulder bag full of books, maps, printed out web pages (including pages from this site), tourist brochures, restaurant listings. We keep this bag in the car whenever we go out, so that if our plans change during the day, we still have all the information that we need. When we leave the car to go touring, we take the one book and map that we need. With the Cadogan guides you can tear out the pages about your destination and slip them into your pocket.

On Memoirs/Novels/Etc. I have listed books written by people living in France (usually Americans or Brits) and some novels that I recommend reading to prepare for travel in France. Bill Thayer has recommended books for France.

Special thanks to Slow Travelers for helping me put together this list.

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Provence Byways: www.provencebyways.com
An intimate and detailed guidebook to the Luberon region of Provence. Also available in pdf form. (see the classified)

General Travel Guide Books

Most guide book series have different volumes for different regions of France. These series are my favorite guidebooks.

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France (Eyewitness Travel Guides), DK Publishing, 2003

The Eyewitness series of travel guides are in full color on thicker paper and are heavier, but are a convenient small size. I find the color pictures helpful to decide if we would like to see a place. They have excellent information for larger towns. They have good hotel and restaurant recommendations at the back of the book (listed by town). Their restaurant recommendations are usually reliable and I have used their hotel recommendations several times to pick hotels (in Italy). They also include good city maps.

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France (Cadogan Country Guides), Philippe Barbour, Dana Facaros, Michael Pauls, Cadogan Guides, 2004

Many of the France travel guides for Cadogan are written by Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls who wrote the excellent Italy guidebooks. They live in France. There are editions of these books for the different regions. These books are in black and white on thin paper and, as a result, are light weight but packed full of information. There are good descriptions of the towns with recommended hotels and restaurants. The restaurant recommendations are usually reliable. They also give suggested itineraries and vocabulary lists. I always take one of their travel guides with me and tear out the pages for the town we are visiting (so I don't have to carry the whole book in my purse).

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The Rough Guide to France, Rough Guides, 2003

Many people highly recommend these guide books.
Tracy from NC, spring 2002, writes "I love the Rough Guide books. They have a lot of detail and are perfectly suited to a younger crowd (under 40 - though I am not in this crowd!!). The books give a lot of history, include off-the-beaten-path sites and budget friendly hotel and restaurant suggestions."

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Paris

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Paris (Eyewitness Travel Guides), Alan Tillier, Anna Brooke, Paul Hines (Editor), DK ADULT, 2003

Good description of Paris and photos by area. Good city map.

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Paris: The Collected Traveler: An Inspired Anthology and Travel Resource, Barrie Kerper, Fodors, 2000

Colleen from CA, spring 2002: If you enjoy reading travel essays, then look for this book. Ms. Kerper collected Paris-related magazine and newsletter articles for years, then culled them to create this well organized book. At the end of each essay, if appropriate, she includes up-to-date practical information for the sight or event. The day-to-day travel related section can be found in just about any traditional guidebook. Where this book shines is the eye-opening variety of subject matter and authors. In my opinion, it's best for background, pre-travel reading.

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Rick Steves' Paris 2005, Rick Steves, Steve Smith, Gene Openshaw, Avalon Travel Publishing, 2005

Tracy from NC, spring 2002, writes "I like Rick Steves Paris 2002 book because it gives you the down and dirty of maneuvering around a city, great tips on avoiding lines, buying tickets and passes, transportation information. I avoid his hotel and restaurant recommendations merely because, since he is so popular, the establishments end up being crammed with American Rick Steves fans; a situation I try to avoid."

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Around and About Paris, Thirza Vallois, Iliad Books, 1999 (a series of 3 volumes)

Colleen writes: For a fascinating book filled with in-depth historical details, and several walking tours for each Paris arrondissement, look for Thirza Vallois' books. Each book contains detailed maps and pencil sketches of interesting sights along the walking tours, as well as literary quotes and descriptions of the historical figures of the times. Volume One starts with this quote: "Qui regarde au fond de Paris a le vertige." ("He who looks into the depths of Paris grows giddy.") ~ Victor Hugo

  • Around and About Paris: From the Dawn of Time to the Eiffel Tower (Arrondissements 1 - 7)
  • Around and About Paris: From the Guillotine to the Bastille Opera : The 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th & 12th Arrondissements
  • Around and About Paris, Volume 3: New Horizons: Haussmann's Annexation (Arrondissements 13 - 20)

Order from Amazon - Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3

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Unexplored Paris 2003, Rodolphe Trouilleux, Parigramme

Colleen writes: "Unexplored Paris" by Rodolphe Trouilleux is a delightful book filled with those "off the beaten path" sights that we all hope to find. Divided by arrondissement, each discovery is lovingly described, and is accompanied by a color photo.

From the back cover: "Forgotten cul-de-sacs, a cloister converted into workshops, a genuine or imitation medieval house, flagstones for a guillotine, a cannon to set your clock by, a 17th-century metro station ... Russian style country cottages ... revolutionary inscriptions ... a lemon tree in a telephone booth ... this is what Paris is all about!"

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South of France

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South of France, Dana Facaros, Michael Pauls, Cadogan Guides, 2005

This book covers Mediterranean France - the southern regions that border the Mediterranean (Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence and Cote d'Azur). Cities: Nice, Marseille, Nimes, Montpellier and Perpignan.

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Dordogne and the Lot, Dana Facaros, Michael Pauls, Cadogan Guides, 2005

This book covers the Dordogne, in the Aquitaine region in south-west France.

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Provence: The Collected Traveler, Barrie Kerper, Fodors, 2001

The Collected Traveler books are a good planning resource.

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Provence Byways - Guidebook to the Luberon Region of Provence, Bob and Sue Winn

Highly recommended by Chris from CA (moderator) and I used it for our 2004 Provence trip.

From their web site: "For five years, from 1997 through 2001, we hosted small groups for a week at a time in the summer in our village of Lourmarin. In the course of preparing for our groups we wrote a guidebook on a variety of subjects of interest to travelers in the Luberon region of Provence. The guidebook is focused, practical, and based on our personal point of view--our experience, our research, our enthusiasm, and our taste. It has been "road tested" and updated during our latest stay in Provence (June, 2008)."

Order from their website: www.provencebyways.com

Food Guides

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Paris in a Basket: Markets - The Food and the People, Nicolle Aimee Meyer, Amanda Pilar Smith, Paul Bocuse, Konemann, 2000

Tracy from NC, spring 2002, writes "The book is wonderful because not only do you get detailed information on the food markets in Paris, but it also serves as a cookbook and guidebook to Paris neighborhoods."

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Markets of Provence: A Culinary Tour of Southern France, Ruthanne Long, Morrow Cookbooks, 1996

Photos, recipes and details of seven market towns in Provence.

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Boulangerie: A Pocket Guide to Paris's Famous Bakeries, Jack Armstrong, Ten Speed Press; Miniature edition, 1999 - out of print

Recommended by Tracy from NC.

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