favorite travel guide books

Old Dec 21st, 2010, 03:58 PM
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favorite travel guide books

I plan to buy a travel guide with the main purpose of finding lodging options - ratings, cost, location, etc. I'm curious what other travelers have found was most helpful - Frommer's or Rick Steves? I used Lonely Planet's book in 2002 but it's too out of date and I wasn't that happy with their format. I have books specifically for Paris, but want one for France since we'll be driving around Provence and up the west to Mont St. Michel.
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Old Dec 21st, 2010, 04:44 PM
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Certainly not Steves for accommodations. Why not Michelin books for France?
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Old Dec 21st, 2010, 04:44 PM
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For sightseeing, nothing beats the Michelin Green Guides, although specific Eyewitness Guides and the Cadogan Guides (especially for the south of France) are very good as well. For some reason few people mention the Fodor guides, and they are quite good because of the inclusion of hotel recommendations. Still, the Michelin Red Guide sets the standard for hotels and restaurants.
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Old Dec 21st, 2010, 06:12 PM
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Michelin Green Guides are especially helpful for driving trips in France.
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Old Dec 21st, 2010, 06:42 PM
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I think the Lonely Planet guides are the most practical but if you don't like them, try Rough Guides. They also have a lot of good information with city maps showing attractions, hotels etc.

If you live near a bookshop with a good range of travel guides, then go in and think about what you would want to know on a trip. Maybe how to catch public transport from the airport to your hotel, where to stay, a map of the city, what there is to do there etc. Then browse the guidebooks to see if you can easily find the answers to your questions. Some books suit some people and others suit other people. Each to their own. It's nice that we have a choice.

Kay
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Old Dec 21st, 2010, 06:56 PM
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I like the DK travel books. I love the pictures in them and how you have little maps. I used to use Fodors and Fromers when I needed to find accomodations but I've been using our timeshares more and I get such wonderful information fromt this site for guides and hotels-Happy travels
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Old Dec 21st, 2010, 07:06 PM
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Michelin Green

Part of the experience of France is the art and Steves knows enough for 1/2 tour.

For Paris, try Time Out Paris.
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Old Dec 21st, 2010, 07:16 PM
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For lodging, I would just use the internet (this site is good). We also like to use trip advisor, google earth and a good GPS if driving. Guide books are so 20th Century! Also, we like the German rail website for planning rail travel. We also like this website: http://www.slowtrav.com/
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Old Dec 21st, 2010, 09:59 PM
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I live in a small town so the selection at our local book store isn't wonderful. I've never used the Michelin green or red guides. I will look online, too. I like the suggestions on this site but may not follow a set itinerary so want to have information in hand when being spontaneous. Thanks.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2010, 06:57 AM
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Your local library may be small but usually can get books you want through interlibrary loan. Even if it's an older edition and prices are out of date, there's still plenty of good information that can help you decide what to see and do, and what not to. When you have your to-see list ready, check out open days/hours/costs for each site. Hmm, that's for general info, and reading again I see you want a guidebook just for lodging.

For lodging, take a look at the Alastair Sawday website. He has a slew of books on lodging in France and other countries--B&B, hotel, upscale, green. Every place in his books is on his website but there's less info on the website. We've stayed at several of his B&B picks and they've been very nice.

Karen Brown's book is another one we've used. We stayed at one B&B based on a Sawday recommendation and met a couple who'd found the same place through Brown.

Actually, we now use just the Gites de France guides for B&Bs (chambres d'hotes), but you need to buy one for each region. You can get an idea of what's available by looking at their website, gites-de-france.com.

We take the Michelin red and green guides along but don't use them for lodging picks. I don't think that's their real strength.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2010, 08:04 AM
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Coquelicot, thanks for the suggestions. I hadn't heard of Alastair Sawday's website and it looks good.

When I went to the gites-de-france.com website, my French was too rusty to get it all. Is there a simple way to get the information in English? Can I book one night stays? I found a site (www.bed-and-breakfast-in-Paris.com) for Paris that requires more than one night - which is fine for us. But the rest of the trip is traveling to Avignon, Arles, St. Baume, Sts Maries de la Mer, Rennes le chateau, Rocamadour, Bordeaux, Orleans,Mont St. Michel, and Chartres.

When my husband and I went to France in 2002 I had made all the reservations ahead, based on suggestions from Fodorites, and it was very successful. I'll have to trust my instincts again and go ahead and set an itinerary, knowing there's plenty of room for spontaneity during the day. Knowing where we'll be at night, and knowing that it's a good bet, will be satisfying and comforting.

I'll check out Karen Brown's book, too.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2010, 09:22 AM
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This will get you the English language site for the Gite de France B&Bs. B&Bs rent by the night and usually breakfast is included in the price; it's gites that rent by the week and you're on your own for all meals.

http://www.gites-de-france.com/gites/uk/bed_breakfasts#

This will help you search the gites-de-france site using a map of France:

http://www.gites-de-france.com/gites...ch_using_a_map

Be sure to pick a place with at least 3 ears of corn--4 is the highest level; we've stayed at a 2-ear place and it was okay but we prefer 3 ears.

I seem to be pushing B&Bs here but maybe you are hotel people. If so, Alastair Sawday can help you there.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2010, 10:40 AM
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If you are looking to have a handy guide to search as you drive into a small town in France (which is what your post is tagged) I say either Michelin (which is as complete as you can get but costly at about $25 or more --and heavy to boot) or Pudlo which is now available in English. I think Michelin is well worth the price and weight. I book hotels ahead but I've found it invaluable for finding a restaurant "on the spot."
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Old Dec 22nd, 2010, 10:55 AM
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For hotels and B & B's, we start with reading Fodorites trip reviews, then go to www.tripadvisor.com
For apt's. and gites for longer stays, we go to www.VRBO.com or www.homeaway.com or the Gites de France site mentioned above.

After we choose a few possibilities we start asking the Fodorites their opinion.

Some people like to travel on-the-fly and find a place as they go, but that never seems to work for us. We call it going on a "hotel oddessy"---spending the last half of a day looking for somewhere to stay, and we have been "burned" too many times to try it again. But that's just us.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2010, 01:21 PM
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No, it's not just you TPAYT. We feel exactly the same. Haven't done hotel oddesseys in 15 years or more.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2010, 02:01 PM
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I think the Frommers guidebooks are pretty good for a good range of accommodations. I like them better than Michelin, a lot better. Michelin is just kind of peculiar for lodging. They don't list that many, and they have an odd rating system IMO. They equate some properties (with their little pictures )that I've stayed at and thought were different in level.

If your choice is Frommers or R Steves, I'd go with Frommers.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2010, 02:12 PM
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For most all my basis travel research needs, I normally use Fodor's and Frommer's books. Often I'll buy one book (Frommer's more often then not, but not always) as my basis and supplement with researched information from the other one -- or sometimes I'll buy both.

I'll usually then supplement with other travel books and online research to broaden things out.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2010, 10:01 PM
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I use Gites de France's web to find B&Bs. Where I know the approximate itinerary, I just copy the name, address and phone number. I choose several possibilities in case some are full, and start calling around lunch time. I know that around the Mont St. Michel area, reservations are essential during vacation time (June through August). The same applies to the Morbihan area for weekends from Spring onward. But when I was there, we had no problems finding a place for a Sunday night. On the other hand, we found a place in the Berry just by following the Gite signs from the town to the B&B, and they told us that they were never full. The Berry is not a popular vacation area. There are certain areas where reservations are strongly recommended: We experienced that in Alsace and Burgundy, I suspect that the Périgord noir fits in that category as well as the Provence. To that I would add places close to beaches during the hot months.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2010, 02:26 AM
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Grantier wrote
I plan to buy a travel guide with the main purpose of finding lodging options - ratings, cost, location, etc.

Nothing beats the Michelin Red Guide. It is a directory of hotels and restaurants. It is updated every spring but it is rare to find this in a bookstore. Try Amazon.com. The Michelin Green Guide is a guide to the sights/sites. Excellent. Both books will add immeasurably to your tour of France. When you get there go to a bookstore and buy the yellow cover Michelin maps for the areas you are traveling in.

Lonely Planet is good for finding budget eats and sleeps. Fodor is good and is very well written. Rick Steves is a disaster all around. Frommer has lost its way since he sold his brand name to a corporation.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2010, 05:37 AM
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Michelin red and green guides are both stocked in our midsized-town Barnes and Noble, so I would not call them hard to find. We browsed the red book there a few times before finally buying it--not for the hotels, but because my husband's favorite travel thing is picking great lunch spots (at the Bib Gourmand level, not the stars!).

Michael's tip about preparing a list of possible B&Bs using the Gites de France website is a good one. Maybe you could make your phone calls around 10am, because B&B owners are still working around the place then, whereas later they may be out doing errands. However if their phone number has a 06 prefix, it's a cell phone, so timing isn't as critical.

Hotels are usually more expensive than B&Bs and are more likely to be in towns or cities. You can find B&Bs in both towns and the countryside.

If you have a netbook or internet access, you can do online research the day before, make your call or send off an email, and get everything lined up at not quite the last minute, avoiding the "hotel odyssey" TPAYT warns about.
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