Books on France

Old Dec 9th, 2009, 07:50 PM
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Books on France

We're in the early stages of planning our next trip to France -- we've had 2 trips to Paris with a few day trips, but this time we want to get out into the countryside. At this point, my husband is opposed to renting a car, so we'd probably want to pick one or 2 hub cities from which we can make day trips. Are there any books that you've found particularly useful in helping you make your decisions and why? Thanks for any advice.
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Old Dec 9th, 2009, 11:05 PM
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One of my favourite books about France is Tim Moore's French Revolutions. Tim Moore is a British journalist who cycled the route of the Tour de France though it is not really a book about cycling. There is far more about France and the book is absolutely hilarious. Have a look at to find out more.
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Old Dec 10th, 2009, 12:59 AM
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I'd try hard to convice him about a car. Driving in France is a snap. I prefer driving there to driving here at home.
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Old Dec 10th, 2009, 03:31 AM
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Hi V,

If you are interested in the real "France profonde", and not a pale imitation of Paris, get out of the cities and into a car.

I usually use

As mentioned, driving in France is not difficult. See for maps.

>Are there any books that you've found particularly useful in helping you make your decisions....<

You might wish to look up "France" under "Destinations".

The Fodor's folks have a guide book or two.

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Old Dec 10th, 2009, 05:47 AM
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'The Road from the Past' by Ina Caro. Definitive, essential
and enjoyable.
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Old Dec 10th, 2009, 05:50 AM
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There are folks on here who rarely use cars, I hope they chime in with suggestions.

If I didn't want to drive, I would consider Nice--I think it's interesting--art museums, market, good restaurants, the sea. The train system along the coast is good for outings to Cannes, Antibes, Villefranche, Monte Carlo, etc. There are also trains and buses which can get you up off the coast to the hill towns.

Similarly further west in Provence you could use Avignon or Aix en Provence as a base. I would be more frustrated in Provence without a car but it's certainly possible to get around by bus and train.
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Old Dec 10th, 2009, 06:44 AM
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There is a great book called Eyewitness Travel it is a series that deals with different countries, in fact for France there are I think 5 or 6 dealing with different places in France and one on France.

You can pick it up at any book store or order it on line.
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Old Dec 10th, 2009, 07:12 AM
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It's true that there is a reasonably good public transportation system along the Côte d'Azur, but the vast majority of rural French towns are served by minimal public transport that serves locals needing to get places for practical purposes, not tourists wanting to see the countryside.

Your desire to see the countryside is hugely limited if you don't rent a car. And since driving in rural France is an absolute breeze, you really should consider it. I hate driving in the USA, but can't get enough of tooling around on N and D roads in France.

As for books, are you looking for guidebooks or travel narratives, or what? There are threads here on Fodors with hundreds of suggestions. I like the Eyewitness guidebooks for planning, along with Cadogan for offbeat suggestions.
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Old Dec 10th, 2009, 08:35 AM
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It sounds to me like you want guidebooks, in which case, I do like the standards (both Fodors and Frommers) and I do like Cadogan a lot for France, also. You can't beat Michelin for specific details on places, although it doesn't serve that well as a general guidebook as it is ordered alphabetically.

Actually, now that I think of it, the Michelin maps in the front with suggested driving routes has given me lots of ideas and I think you could use that if you were going to drive. Without driving, it's not as useful, but still will highlight the places you might want to see, I think.

Insight Guidebooks are pretty good, also, not sure if they have one for France, but I like them.

For daytrips, I highly recommend Earl Steinbicker's Day Trips in France (or something like that). It has maps and the best day trips so you will be able to pick out some city hubs to go to the ones you most like.
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Old Dec 10th, 2009, 12:37 PM
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Hi, Believe me, I really hope that my husband will come around and consider our renting a car!! I know it would give us many more options. The reason I dislike organized tours is they limit your freedom to stay longer if something really interests you or leave quickly if it doesn't. And driving gives you the added freedom of stopping somewhere that you didn't even know existed if it catches your eye. And of course allows you to see areas that might not be conveniently accessible by public transit.

As for books, although the "just the facts" guidebooks are very useful, I'm looking for books that convey a sense of place, and not just a list of what to see, where to eat, and where to sleep. Some of the ones already mentioned sound promising. And I will definitely convey everyone's enthusiasm for driving in France to my husband!
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