This travel guide to Provence and the French Riviera is in Frommer’s Day by Day series, an excellent series and we’ve reviewed some of the other titles, including Seville and Dublin. It’s proved to be a popular series, and this is now the 2nd edition of this guide to one of our favorite parts of France: Provence and the Riviera.
Travel Guide to Provence: Nice
One way to check a guide is to find a place you know well, and see how the author handles it. In this case we chose Nice, a city we’ve been to several times, including visits when Donna was researching and writing her own guide to Nice and the Cote d’Azur. We found the Nice section to be very good, and thorough. The atmosphere of the city, as well as the facts, came over well. We were pleased the author wasn’t too snooty to recommend the ‘hop-on hop-off’ Grand Tour of Nice, as it is a good way to get to know the city when you first arrive.
All the major sites are covered, in one-paragraph summaries, although as Nice is described as a ‘paradise for foodies’, it’s a shame there’s only space to list 5 eating places – and one of these has to be the inevitable and wonderful Fenocchio ice-cream parlour. Still, given the space restrictions – and it’s very difficult to pack a guide to Provence and the Riviera into a pocket-sized 220 pages - the author has at least given a good cross-section in her 5 eating choices.
Along the Riviera
We also know many of the towns along the Riviera, and it’s good to see the author has included some of the interesting less-famous places, like Biot and Haut-de-Cagnes. Antibes, Cannes, Menton, Monaco all get good coverage too, and it’s a book we’d feel confident in using for places we didn’t know – and it did also inspire us to want to visit new places, like St-Remy, where Van Gogh spent the final years of his life.
Best Features of this Guide to Provence and the Riviera
As with other Day by Day Guides, there are plenty of good maps – 33 in this case, including a large pull-out with Provence on one side and the Riviera on the other, neatly contained in a plastic holder attached to the inside back cover. As well as evocative photographs which capture this colourful area that has always attracted artists, the guide has 26 self-guided tours. These include walks, cycle tours and drives, with some being thematic and others for exploring different regions. Examples include a tour of the Best Historic Architecture, Provence for Gourmands and Provence for Art Lovers. They’re good ways of linking together the most interesting places, although a guide to Provence for Gourmands could fill a whole book by itself.
Worst Feature of this Guide to Provence and the Riviera
The only criticism of the guide is that it is too small for a region of this size, with all its richness. As we mentioned above, it only has room to list 5 eating places in Nice, when you could easily list 50. The author’s done a good job given the space constraints, and it is after all meant to be a pocket guide, but more pages wouldn’t go amiss – or publish two separate guides for Provence and for the Riviera. It still wouldn’t stop us recommending it and using it ourselves, though, which is what we’ve felt so far about all the Day by Day Guides we’ve seen. They really are very good.
Travel Guide to Provence: The Author
Frommer’s Provence and the Riviera Day by Day is written by Anna Brooke, who was born in Britain but has lived in France for the last 10 years. She’s written for Time Out, Sunday Times Travel and the Financial Times magazine, as well as other guidebooks including France Day by Day, Paris Day by Day, Paris Free and Dirt Cheap, and Paris and Disneyland with Your Kids. She certainly knows her French onions.
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