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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 1999
Mrs. Caro has managed to deliver a plan for a trip to discover the best places in France and yet provides the reader with interesting , formative and delightful insight into French history. The human element is always present , and her trip could be anyone's trip,the author's obvious knowledge of history gives a real feeling for the stones she describes,and yet take on a life to themselves through her decriptions and explanations. Mrs Caro has managed to make the trip interesting, informative and above all respectful of events and the time line is simply fantastic. This book is worth the investment not only for the historical part which is a gem, but as a planning tool for a discovery trip. I speak from experience for I used her book to plan my 7 weeks trip in France last fall.It was a success , and in many ways thanks to the suggestions found in this lovely book.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2001
If you plan any kind of extensive visit of France to see its many historical treasures, you must read this book before setting off. Caro recommends a tour that is chronological, thus allowing you to appreciate how this marvellous country really developed. From the Roman ruins through the Medieval period to the chateaux of the Loire, Versailles and finally into Paris, this will give you spectacular, thoughtful background to help you organize a truly meaningful tour. Unfortunately Caro does not cover the country's pre-historic sites of interest, such as the alignments of Carnac in Brittany (which predate Stonehenge), so you'll have to content yourself with just the 2000 years she does discuss. Simply put: An outstanding contribution to travel literature, one that I wish I could find for other destinations!
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 1999
This book was a pleasure to read - insightful, interesting and well written. If you enjoy understanding the history of what you are visiting, this book is definitely worth your time. Read it in advance AND take it with you to France to re-read as you visit these wonderful places. My only regret is that her journey (and the history lesson) ends too early. Perhaps Ms Caro's next journey will take us from the French Revolution through World War II.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2011
Fabulous book. For anyone wanting to tour the southern Rhone, Languedoc, Dordogne, Loire Valley or the outskirts of Paris this book is a must. Caro knows her French history cold and manages to weave in stories about the local players of the day in events from the Albigensian Crusade, the 100 Years War, the Wars of Religion etc that makes this history really come alive, and rather successfully paints the portrait of how France emerged from the wilderness of the early Middle Ages to a centralized powerful state under Louis XIV. Caro has a zippy sense of humor - and does not spare that which she couldn't abide, from bad restaurants to tourist-bus packed locations.

One area in the southern Rhone she totally trashes is Les Baux. Since I think her last trip to France for writing this book was 1991 and I was there about five years ago, I'd give a much more upbeat assessment: The main hotel, Oustau de Baumanier, is beautiful and the restaurant first rate - and the people friendly, unlike Caro's view they were aggressively hostile. The old (the hill it's on has been settled since the 6th century B.C.) town is small, an interesting walk through, albeit the castle on top is in near total ruins - but has a great view. The surrounding area is stark (lots of rocks!) but an interesting drive if you are headed for Arles or Avignon.

With today's technology, a nice companion to the book would be a DVD with pictures of the spots visited - picture worth thousand words. Although one could Google a location of interest to get pictures, the ability to just page along with the book would add greatly to the reading experience. This book should be re-published: While some of the restaurants or hotels mentioned in the book may have gone up or down in quality in the last two decades, French history and how it interacted and shaped these locations hasn't; this book is a timeless gem.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 1999
I started reading this book a few days before I left for a trip to France earlier this month. On a whim, I took it with me, and became so fascinated that I changed my itinerary and added destinations from Ms. Caro's Road. They were wonderful, and her insights added so much to the experience! I intend to return soon with Ms. Caro's book udner my arm to continue her tour.
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60 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2004
Preciously and annoyingly written ("[t]hat first visit to the Dordogne region was permeated with a magic I still remember as though it were yesterday"; "I can't explain what happens to the quality of light in the Loire Valley between Amboise and Blois"), Caro goes on for pages at a time reciting her trite reactions to French buildings and locales. Using Amazon's "search" function, you will see dozens of references to "Bob," "restaurant," "car," and "waiter," for example. There are more references to French waiters (stereotypically negative) than there are to bastides, for example.
Life is too short to read about someone else's mundane driving errors, or poorly described meals in order to make it to what is a quick and eclectic discussion of French history, seemingly ordered by a pre-set tourist itinerary. There's no real need to read about Bob and Ina's rushed meal at a fancy restaurant in Carcassonne in order to make the two o'clock castle tour. Once you get through that, however, you get to read about the tour guide, "dressed like a reject from the hippie movement of the sixties" in "a rumpled T-shirt and dungarees, [whose] blond hair was coiffured in oily shoulder-length curls--a style [Ina] is not particularly fond of in men."
This seems to be a "how-I-spent-my-summer-and-deducted-it-all" travelogue more than a serious effort at providing a travelers' history. We get someone else's tour reviews, bad lunches, good lunches, missed exits, oversleeping. If you are looking for Ina's history, with some observations about France tucked in, this may be for you.
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12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2010
The concept of the book is unique but alas, for most of us impractical: touring France from south to north following the historical development of the French nation-state. The book begins in Provence with the Romans and ends in the Ile-de-France with Louis XIV. So, for example, the tour of Provence does not include Avignon because it's historical importance is medieval not Roman. Not to mention the part it played in the development of impressionism.

I found the parts about the Albigensian Crusade and the Hundred Years War of great interest. However, the author apparently has a fetish for the decadent aristocracy because about a third of the book is dedicated to the various Henry's and Louis, kings and aristocrats,their assorted concubines and [...] and the chateaus they built. I suppose that some will find it interesting. I thought it was quite boring.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2006
Caro's guide is unique and she provided me suggestions about places to see, and not see, that were very helpful. Some other reviewers were annoyed with her personal travel narratives, but I found them interesting. Her method of how to visit France, by traveling though its history chronologically was very good. In the end, I was able to use her book as the basis for planning my own two week trip. I am a college history professor, and her insights and recommendations about how to travel were very helpful.
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on March 27, 2015
A very detailed book about traveling through France that I quite enjoyed. Ms. Caro`s eye for detail is excellent as are her descriptions. It left me wanting to visit France now to see what her sights are like now. We had planned to go to Europe this month but various incidents in that region made us decide to postpone the trip until things settle down - if they ever will.

I think photographs would have been useful. Even though she tells an excellent story, seeing what she is describing would have made it just that much better.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in any of the many aspects of France. They won`t be disappointed.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2005
As my wife and I prepare to go to France (Dordogne) for a walking tour with 'Country Walkers', we were advised to read up on French history. This book was recommended. What a great read! I just searched Amazon for more books by the same author and was dissappointed to see that she has no more listed. I would love to travel to France with her. Karen Brown, beware!!
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