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France on Foot: Village to Village, Hotel to Hotel: How to Walk the French Trail System on Your Own Paperback – January 1, 1999
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From Library Journal
LeFavour, a professional chef, has produced a handsome and terrifically useful guide for anyone considering seeing France on foot. France has 110,000 miles of well-maintained walking paths that cross both public and private lands and a detailed system of walking maps for navigating them. This is not an easy guide to tuck into your backpack, but it provides loads of information: the best maps for walkers, different kinds of accommodations, and necessary equipment. LeFavour has obviously walked many leisurely miles in France, soaking up the scenery and ending each day in a comfortable bed (from cottage to chateau) after a delicious meal. He intersperses his own entertaining walking experiences with planning advice. The photographs are beautiful. Essential for travel collections.?Linda M. Kaufmann, Massachusetts Coll. of Liberal Arts Lib., North Adams
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Any book that earns cover blurbs from gonzo illustrator Ralph Steadman and Chez Panisse chef Alice Waters must have something going for it. This large-format volume offers color photos, good maps, excellent directions and fine writing on France's 110,000 miles of off-road footpaths.
"The author is a chef by tradeand his rhapsodic rifts on the joys of good wine and food could inspire the most bloated of couch potatoes to get trekking." -- Bob Sipchen, "Books to Go," - LosAngeles Times, 24 January 1999
"French joie de vivre on foot. This is no backpackers guide. it's walking France on a full stomach." -- Lane Hartill, The Christian Science Monitor, 28 January 1999
"LeFavour creates a French delicacy that mixes practical hiking information about packs and boots, folds in helpful knowledge of maps, hotels and restaurants, then sprinkles on clever anecdotes of people and places in the spectacularly different regions of France." -- Jeffrey Moore, Foreword, December 1998
"My dream has finally come true--I have a month to spend this summer wandering through the French countryside. How do I start planning a walkingtrip?
"Next month, look for France on Foot- Attis Press, $24.95 by Bruce LeFavour." -- Travel & Leisure, December 1998
...the rhapsodic rifts on good wine and food could inspire the most bloated couch potatoes to get trekking. -- Los Angeles Times
I would happily be led, even on foot, by this book to delicious experiences in the French countryside. -- Alice Waters, chef, restaurateur and author of Chez Panisse Vegetables
The photographs are beautiful. Essential for travel collections. -- Library Journal
With practical tips, inspired descriptions, and alluring photographs, this will put spring in your step and France on your agenda. -- The Harvard Post
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I found much useful information in the book, starting with, it is essential to obtain map "903", which is of the entire country, and contains all the major hiking routes, the "grande randonée" (GR). And then LeFavour provides an excellent discourse on the French map system that scales down (or is it up?) from there...meaning that there are series of additional maps that provide the details, down to the various barns and walls you will be passing. The GR trails are marked with two colors, white over red. The author also discusses the smaller network of trails. There is a key distinction that he makes, basically between walking and hiking. The former, which is particularly applicable when people approach a "certain age" is to minimize the weight on your back. Thus, no bedding, virtually no food or cooking equipment, since you will be staying in some form of accommodation every night, and eating there or in a restaurant. Basically you carry your clothes and your reading material. And even when it is just your clothes, LeFavour stresses how that needs to be minimized also. The sections on how the accommodations work is also particularly useful, from reasonable hotels through bed-and-breakfasts to communal arrangements in "gites d'étape." And he provided a few vignettes detailing his actual hiking experiences, with my favorite being located in one of my favorite towns, Cavaillon. He describes having lunch with the rowdy football (soccer) team, who become inebriated BEFORE the match.
But I had a number of problems with the book as well. First, it is written in 1999, and there is no mention, ever, of the GPS, which had been operational and available to individuals for at least five years. He mentions that every hiker should have a compass... rather, today, it is the GPS that everyone should have, particularly when the "brouillard" (the fog) rolls in. The focus of the book was too diffuse for me. There was much information that was provided for a person who knew nothing of France, and it just seems highly unlikely that such a person (except maybe some 19-year olds, and they would be hiking and camping!) would not already possess that information. Also, I was rather astonished that he never mentioned the quantity of water he felt it was necessary to carry... or is it possible to simply "crawl" from one beer to the next?
Overall, he has a great outlook, and is knowledgeable, and I'm sure he would be an enjoyable walking companion, but in order to merit five stars, the book requires a serious update, as well as a "pruning" of information that a potential walker in France would already have. 3-stars for this book.
I'm making plans for my first long distance walk in France as a direct result of this book.
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