France Guide Books
The travel section at your local bookstore can be as seductive and bewildering as the foreign countries you want to visit. Which France guidebooks will be most beneficial for your travel style, budget, and time frame? To choose the best travel guidebook for your next trip to France, here are some tips from Le Francophile.
If you’re unsure how to approach your trip, consider the Rick Steves’ France guide, which offers firsthand advice on travel in France. The book presents extensive sections on most major French cities, including dining and accommodation, based on the author’s travels throughout France. The guide’s strong point is his collection of personal travel trips and suggestions for walking tours. Still, it skips over some of the major urban centers and smaller towns you might visit.
A little lighter on the personal touch, the Lonely Planet and the Fodor guides to France both provide detailed information but don’t cram too much in. Fodor lists accommodation, restaurants, and nightlife options and tips on how or what to explore in each city, alongside suggested self-guided tours. Lonely Planet includes more detailed descriptions in its lists, including recommendations for the budget traveler. Lonely Planet devotes most of its space to this practical information.
It also offers terrific quick overviews of the history and regions of France, giving you a good idea of where you are going and what you will see. The extra tips, advice, and features are there if you’re looking for them. They don’t overshadow the basic information, making it easy to find a place to eat dinner while walking through a particular part of town.
The Rough Guide is great for the over-planner, as it includes endless lists and details for almost every imaginable city and village in France. Armed with this up-to-date basic information on schedules, accommodation, nightlife, restaurants, and maps, you won’t have to look anything up online. A good resource for the serious traveler who wants to catch everything or the budget traveler looking for the best bargain. But remember that The Rough Guide is more like a reference book with little planning advice.
If you need more than just finding a place to stay or knowing which bus to catch, check out the Eyewitness Travel guide to France. The guide details museums, châteaux, parks, beaches, historical sites, wine/food culture, and regional history. It includes pages and pages on the cultural side of the country.
And of course, you can always find guides for each city, especially Paris. The Wallpaper City Guide to Paris offers advice on places to visit, shop or relax. Small enough to fit into your pocket, the Wallpaper city guide reads almost like a modern art gallery brochure, with artsy photographs for each listing. The images will make you want to see everything in the guide—and you probably will, because the list is so concise.