I decided to purchase four guidebooks of France 2012 to compare them (Frommers, Fodors, Lonely Planet and Rough Guide). I have been going on holiday to France since I was a child. I have been to most regions, although there is always so much to see that it would take a life time to explore France completely. That's why I was looking for professional travel writers to help me get to know the country even better. Frommers failed miserably in this (unlike Lonely Planet and the Rough Guide, which I recommend).
I was shocked as soon as I opened this guidebook. The map of France on the second cover shows The Ardennes between Picardy and Upper Normandy, when it should be in southern Belgium ! There is nothing remotely similar between the two regions. It is not just a mistake from the person who wrote the names on the map. In the suggested itineraries (p.64), they list 'The Ardennes & Northern Beaches', where they suggest to visit Amiens and Le Touquet. Ironically, there isn't any description of either place in the book.
Actually Frommers leaves out whole regions of France. Not a single mention of Corsica, Auvergne, Limousin, Franche-Comté, or Nord-Pas-de-Calais ! Other regions like Picardy, Champagne and Lorraine only get one of two places mentioned. Nothing at all about the great cathedrals of Amiens and Beauvais, about Metz and its new Centre Pompidou, or about the superb palaces around Nancy (Lunéville, Haroué, Commercy). Lucky that there are online guides like Eupedia.com to fill the gaps.
The history section is filled with mistakes.
- p. 24 : "...As the Roman Empire declined, its armies retreated to the flourishing colonies that had been established along the strip of the Mediterranean coast- among others, these included Orange, Montpellier, Nîmes, Narbonne and Marseille, which retain some of the best preserved monuments in Europe."
=> Wrong. The Romans had over 100 cities or towns in Gaul, but in five examples they manage to list a city that was never Roman. Montpellier was only founded in 985, five centuries after the end of the Western Roman Empire. Besides, Marseille was founded by the Greeks, and although it was an important Roman city, there are hardly any Roman monuments left today.
- p. 24 : "...Clovis (king of northeastern Gaul's Franks, and founder of the Merovingian dynasty)"
=> Incorrect. The Merovingian dynasty was founded long before Clovis. Its origins are lost in time, but the earliest Merovingian king known for sure was Chlodio, Clovis`s great-grand-father.
- p. 26 : "...the French army drove the discontented English out, leaving them only the Norman port of Calais."
=> Calais is not Norman nor anywhere near Normandy. How can French Flanders be both in the Ardennes (see above) and in Normandy ? It's high time that they revised the basic geography of the country about which they are writing !
- p. 27 : "...he expanded France to include the southern provinces of Artois and Roussillon."
=> Geography again. Artois is in the north (the northernmost province of France at the time actually).
They are other errors, but I will stop here. I think you get the idea. This is not a seriously researched book.