This didn't just land on the mat, it crushed it!
It may be all the usual dimensions of these sort of guides but it is a hand aching 700+ pages.
It is divided into 12 regions + Paris gets a section all to itself.
Each section starts with 'favourite moments'.These are a bit of fluff really. For instance Normandy & Brittany's best moments are 'Dramatic coastlines & uncrowded beaches', hardly ground breaking research there!
This is a minor bit of pickiness on my behalf though as I have to say this really does try to give a little bit of everything. 'Where to stay', places of interest for wine lovers, 'where to eat', a 3 day & 1 week tour guide for each regions as well as specific interests for each region such as the best chateaux for the Dordogne, Volcanoes of Auvergne, the Somme battlefields & Napoleonic history for Corsica etc etc. All well written & offering enough information to whet the appetite but not so much you feel overwhelmed.
That really sums this book up. It doesn't give quite enough detail to be complete,(well it couldn't really without weighing in at half a ton could it?), you will be encouraged to do your own research though for those areas that this book grabs your interest with.
There are maps throughout, including all the major cities & a fold out map of France to the rear will help you get your bearings & plan. Something more detailed for the road will be necessary for a road trip,(Michelin are pretty good value for money).
This opens with an overview giving 'The best of France' in various areas, fun to flick through but another none necessary bit. Of more interest are the Chapters on a bit of French history, fast facts, useful phrases & menu terms & getting there & around.
As you have probably guessed if you are a seasoned Francophile then this will be about as much use to you as a chocolate teapot. If, like me, your travelling & knowledge of France is limited then this is just the book to make you consider something a little more adventurous than a weekend in Paris or the Eurostar booze bash.
Last but by no means least, in fact as far as I'm concerned first by a long stretch, the photography. This really does contain some beautiful pictures of a truly beautiful country. Not just the usual scenic bits but cities all over, food & all manner of attractions.
I know it's easy for me to say 'buy it it's worth every penny' when I got this to review for nowt but in all honesty this really is about as good as you can hope for in one, relatively, handy sized book that would come in useful if travelling or just to kick start your plans for a trip to remember.
It's not cheap, but it is very well presented & offers just about all you could ask for in one volume.
It loses a star due to the impossibility of any single volume being able to do complete justice to an entire country & for it's redundancy for the experts.
Accept it's limitations however & it is likely to both surprise & inform and most importantly tempt you into planning a journey into the heart of France.