Lonely Planet Book Review: France’s Best Trips

Kerry Dexter's picture

Lonely Planet Book Review: France’s Best Trips
by Oliver Berry, Nicola Williams, and others

Travels by auto are what this wide ranging guidebooks focuses on, with thirty nine road trip itineraries hotting the highlights and covering unexpected byways all across France. The writers and editors have singled out ten routes they mark as classic trips -- ones that bring up icons of scenery (The Corniches),  history (D-Day’s Beaches, Chateaux of the Loire), art (UNESCO Treasures), and ideas quintessentially French (Champagne Taster, Riviera Cruising, Essential France). Though detailed itineraries are located in the appropriate regional sections of the book, stops along these classic trips, and several other suggestions for not to miss locations  are introduced with photos and a bit of text describing some of their highlights at the beginning of the book. All that serves as a good introduction to what follows -- although, if your main interest is a certain region or an individual trip, you’ll be just as well served if you go directly to it. The book is clearly organized and easy to understand visually, and many trips and entries are cross referenced with notes on itineraries that are nearby or easily connected with the route you may be considering.


 Lonely Planet: France's Best Trips


There are plenty of maps, too, both the overview sort and those which go along with individual route information, and they too are clear and easy to read. Along with the narrative and photographs, the maps form the heart of the book, and they share a clear and vivid style. Towns, routes, monuments, and roadside attractions are necessarily discussed briefly, so kudos must go to the writers and editors of this project for making these short narratives vivid, individual, and as interesting to read for armchair travelers as for those out on the roads. A fine selection of photographs through the regional sections enlivens the text and creates atmosphere, too.


I found the information to be reliable for places I know well and intriguing for areas I’ve yet to visit. Among my favorites trips to read, both for bringing back memories and suggesting new places to explore, were ones called Alpine Adventure, Alsace Accents, Basque Country, and The Jura.


Each route also has a small section -- at times, just a page -- with suggestions for places to sleep and eat. These are often places you wouldn’t necessarily have thought of -- b&bs with three or five rooms, bistros and cafes and high end establishments with but a few tables. The flair for good description in few words carries over here, so whether you decide to check out the recommendations or not, reading about them adds to the atmosphere of the region under discussion.
There are tips about driving embedded in the route descriptions and a section called Road Trip Essentials at the back of the book. That includes a guide to rules of the road and other tips  on driving in France, a general guide to traveling in France, and a short guide to basic phrases and words in French, as well.





Kerry Dexter is Music Editor for Wandering Educators  You may reach Kerry at music at wanderingeducators dot com and you may find more of her work at Music Road.