Gaze at the gargoyles and ponder Quasimodo's fate as you laze in the park behind Notre Dame p133.
Fly off-piste down glaciers near Chamonix on the notorious Vallee Blanche descent p534.
Get lost in secret passageways beneath Lyon and discover why silk weavers toiled to build them p506.
Spit a mouthful of Burgundy without causing offence at Beaune's Ecole des Vins de Bourgogne p467.
• Six authors, 23 combined years living in France, 196 days of in-country research, 184 maps.
• You asked for it, we researched it - more value accommodation in this edition.
• Belle Ile Romance, Marseille short-break, Tour de France trail - take inspiration from our itineraries and explore France your own way.
• Content Updated daily: Visit www.lonelyplanet.com for up-to-the-minute reviews and traveller suggestions.
Planning a holiday is exhausting work. The painful bit is paying for one's holiday. The excruciating bit is finding places to stay, places to visit, places to eat, knowing how much money to spend, banks, insurance and so on. In fact, the planning part is something I am more than happy to leave to my wife.
When the Lonely Planet arrived, it was a weighty tome, jammed packed with just about everything we would need to know written by people who really know the country - which is reassuring to know.
As the authors point out when talking about Dan Brown and the Da Vinci Code; you need local knowledge by local people before you can write knowledgeably about something. The authors refer to the numerous mistakes made by Brown in his descriptions of Paris. Just as well I wasn't planning a tour using Brown's book.
For each area in France, there is a comprehensively written chapter broken down into numerous areas: History, Orientation (with loads of maps); the areas one would not think about: Medical and Hospitals for example.
Clearly seeing the sights is foremost in everyone's mind - mine included. Hotels was something that was last on my mind (as my wife will frostily confirm as we stayed in a fleapit rather than a hotel recommended by Lonely Planet).
In use, I found the Lonely Planet had far more information than I could ever use in a whistle-stop tour of France, and due to changed plans (mostly emotional blackmail from my mother) our trip to France was cut short. To two nights!
Using Lonely Planet, and their 'Paris in Two Days' section (page 124) we tried to concentrate on the highlights of what was suggested and we crammed in as much as we could in a few short hours.
Lonely Planet: France is an utterly indispensable guide for every traveller to France. A few weeks reading before hand and plenty of planning will make your trip run like clockwork. The local knowledge flows forth from the authors like a veritable fountain. Take your time to plan where you want to go, plan where you want to stay.
Their hotel guide is extremely useful; however, I was surprised to find out the Balladin's hotel chain wasn't included in it. We had an unscheduled stop in Beauvais (one can't always rely on the airline to be on time) and we stayed at a Balladin hotel there (hotel booked at midnight). The Following morning, rather kindly, the hotel manager rang and booked a hotel on our behalf in Paris (shame we couldn't find it) and there turned out to be a number of Balladin's in Paris and around the country. Not a niggle, just an observation.
Read digest and use. You will get so much from it. Learn from my mistakes and follow the Lonely Planet to the letter. It will be worth it.
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