Top critical review
16 people found this helpful
Too Too much information, and not what you need
on 7 March 2010
I'm a big advocate of Lonely Planet guidebooks and have used them around the world, but I was disappointed with FRANCE. The book is just too big with too much information, most of which is not that interesting or useful and furthermore the information is repeated endlessly. They could have made their 1000+ page book 500 which some careful editing.
The problem with this particular guidebook is that it does not clearly give interesting overviews of the areas one might visit with interesting things to do. (To be fair, they do have interesting and sometimes quirky things to do, but one has to read a lot of superfluous information to get it.)
I believe the problem is that the typical Lonely Planet format, which I usually love, is not appropriate for a country like France in the age of the internet. You don't need to know, for example, in every small city section which trains and buses and go there. It is plenty to know that France has an impressive train system that goes most places, and one can check on the internet to get up to date information on exactly what time and at what cost a train runs from Marseille to Nice. Additionally, Lonely Planet's own website or a hostel booking site or tripadvisor.com will tell more useful and up-to-date information on accommodation at any price level. Therefore, a guidebook for a highly developed country like France should tell more about why one wants to visit Marseille or Nice or Lyon. Of course there will be a way to get there and a place to stay once you are there.
I'd recommend one of the "colorful" guides like Eyewitness and then use information gleaned from the internet for the practicalities of travelling. France is not diffiult to navigate and people are very friendly and helpful to non-French speakers.