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Rick Steves' France 2012 Paperback – December 13, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 127 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Rick Steves has spent 100 days every year since 1973 exploring Europe. Rick produces a public television series (Rick Steves' Europe), a public radio show (Travel with Rick Steves), and a podcast (Rick Steves' Audio Europe); writes a bestselling series of guidebooks and a nationally syndicated newspaper column; organizes guided tours that take thousands of travelers to Europe annually; and offers an information-packed website (ricksteves.com). With the help of his hardworking staff of 70 at Europe Through the Back Door—in Edmonds, Washington, just north of Seattle—Rick's mission is to make European travel fun, affordable, and culturally broadening for Americans.

Steve Smith manages tour planning for Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door and has been researching guidebooks with Rick for two decades. Fluent in French, he's lived in France on several occasions, starting when he was seven, and has traveled there annually since 1986. Steve's wife, Karen Lewis Smith, who's an expert on French cuisine and wine, provides invaluable contributions to his books, as do his two children.
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Product Details

  • Series: Rick Steves
  • Paperback: 1145 pages
  • Publisher: Avalon Travel Publishing; Fol Pap/Ma edition (December 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598809865
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598809862
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #946,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have used Rick Steves' books in Italy and in France, and cannot recommend them highly enough. He breaks down what you should see based on the amount of time you have to spend, the best ways to avoid huge crowds, how to get things like museum passes and train tickets ahead of time to avoid long lines and higher fees, and provides his own do-it-yourself tours so that you don't have to pay through the nose for tour guides abroad.

The level of valuable information and detail found in this book about anywhere you would ever want to go in France (including an outstanding section on Paris, no need to buy the Paris book separately) is priceless and makes you a much more prepared traveler. The cost of the book is nothing compared to the money saved by the tricks of the trade he provides and the time saved waiting in lines.

If you're going to France, you NEED this book!
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Format: Paperback
I absolutely hate to give a Rick Steve's book a bad review but in this case I am going to have to. I will preface this however that if you have access to a car this book is proably great for you!

AND therein lies the main difficulty with this book. Most independent (and in my case young) travelers that visit Europe do so via rail. Why not? The service is good in most places and absolutely top notch in others (i.e.: Switzerland). It's also affordable and allows you to get to many places at a relatively inexpensive price.

This books, however, seems to ignore the rail traveler and focus instead on the person with a car or the person who wants to go and take a lot of local tours. For example, he'll list places in the Dordogne and then inform you that most of them are only accessible by car. Ditto for Provence. He'll also list cute little hotels and again tell you they are only accessible by car. He even lists a whole bunch of recommended auto routes. In addition, because he leaves out certain places that are easily accessible by train (i.e: Aix) the rail traveler feels left out!

That would be all good and fine if that's what one had come to expect from Rick Steves -- but at least in my case it is not! I have used the Rick Steves books before and I LOVED them! In fact I can HIGHLY recommend "Best of Europe" and "Mona Winks" (believe the title has changed). Those books were great. Serioulsy, Mona Winks made Florence come alive for me. We would read it in every museum we visited. And Best of Europe led me to some of the most fabulous places -- including Gimmelwald. But what I really liked is that those books really felt as though they were meant for a rail traveler.

I've bought Rick Steve's France 2005 but I've also come to the conclusion that it's not for me.
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Format: Paperback
I haven't seen the 2003 edition (my latest is 2001) but I would be shocked if Steves has cut Dijon out of the book, as it was in previous editions. This is a great starting point for a trip to France, but it's predecessor was a book about the best 2-22 days in France and I think it shows.
A marked problem with the Steves guides is that his guided tours businesses tend to fill up his top-rated hotels in many cities so that guidebook customers cannot get in. I encountered this myself in Bacharach in the Rhineland and in Venice. Frustrating.
That said, he is an excellent writer and the Rick Steves guides, unlike the Lonely Planet and Rough Guide series, do tend to discriminate between the top-flight and the ordinary. Unfortunately the Steves guides also miss things that way. I've never been able to understand why Rothenburg is in the German guide instead of any number of other German cities such as Bamberg or Schwabisch Hall for example, which possess similar ambiance without the touristic hordes. Nor do I necessarily agree with his choices in the Dordogne.
I use the Steves Guides as a starting point, then branch out and do my own research.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Before I bought this book, I borrowed Frommer's & Fodor's books on France along with Rick Steves'from the library.I found the print in the other two books to be so small that they were difficult to read and much too wordy. Rick Steves' is well-laid out and it's easy to find the do-not-miss sights. Also, his maps are large and easy to follow. We've used Rick Steves' books for other Europen trips and always found them to be excellent.
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Format: Paperback
The descriptions in this books are very good and he makes many good recommendations for sites, hotels, and restaurants. However, I think this book left out a lot of wonderful destinations (such as Fontainebleau, Aix-en-Provence, Dijon, etc.) and lacks the detailed maps that can be found in other French guidebooks. What he does put in this book is very good, but he could have added a lot more to it. I was less pleased with this guidebook than I have been with some of Rick Steves' other books.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are many many books out there for travel, but Steves is practical, clear, detailed and he gives all the smart info you need for your trip. We used this for our France trip and it was a valuable tool, not only for the suggestions and time savings, but all the discounts he told us about more than paid for the book.
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Format: Paperback
I was surprised how little new content there was. I returned the book and took mine from last year (2002) and still discovered all new things in its suggestions. Don't waste the money on the latest when it's not the greatest. 2003 and 2002 are created equal. Whoever decided to put out a new book each year so we'd get rid of the old and get the new one is CRAZY! I understand updates every few years, but there was not enough difference to spend $... on.
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