Rick Steves' France, Belgium & the Netherlands 1998 (Serial)

Steves, Rick; Smith, Steve

Published by John Muir Pubns
ISBN 10: 1562613855 / ISBN 13: 9781562613853
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Synopsis: This guide directs travelers to charming and affordable restaurants, lodgings, sights, shopping, and nightlife, from Amsterdam to Arles. Highlights include information on year-round wine tasting; Colmar, a small Alsatian town; and crossing the Alps from France to Italy. 40 maps .

Review: "Paris offers sweeping boulevards, sleepy parks, world-class art galleries, chatty crêpe stands, Napoleon's body, sleek shopping malls, the Eiffel Tower, and people-watching from outdoor cafés. Climb the Notre-Dame and the Eiffel Tower, cruise the Seine and the Champs-Élysées, and master the Louvre and Orsay museums.... With the proper approach and a good orientation, you'll fall head over heels for Europe's capital city." And who wouldn't, after being primed for the experience by that description? Being prepared is an entirely different matter, but with the help of Rick Steves and self-described Francophile Steve Smith, you shouldn't have any trouble.

Like all of Rick Steves's travel guides, France, Belgium & the Netherlands 1998 wastes no words on excess information; rather the authors direct you to only the most worthwhile sights. It's all a matter of opinion, of course, but their combined years of travel experience and addiction to all things French have prepared them well for the seemingly insurmountable task of whittling down "the best" of France, Belgium, and the Netherlands to 314 pages. The two encourage you to use your travel time--and your money--wisely; see what's representative of the areas you plan to visit; and allow room for catching the countries "by surprise, going casual 'Through the Back Door.'" One suggestion is to take a "Whirlwind (Kamikaze) Three-Week Tour of France by Car." The excursion begins and ends in Paris, but loops around to Normandy, Carcassonne, Nice, and Colmar, with stops along the way for visiting museums, lingering over picnics, and hiking in the Alps.

Each section gives a brief introduction to an area (Normandy, Brussels, Amsterdam, etc.) and offers advice on how to plan your time, then covers transportation, sightseeing, accommodations, and eating. The sights are rated according to Steves's evaluation: three triangles means don't miss it (Musée National Marc Chagall in Nice), two triangles mark the sights that you should try hard to see (the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam), a single triangle denotes sites that are "worthwhile if you can make it" (Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges), and no rating means the attraction is worth knowing about (Loop Trip for Wine Lovers in Provence). Perhaps the best feature of the book, aside from the somewhat clever writing ("While Paris can drive you in Seine...") is the quick-reference appendix. It includes a section on "French History in an Escargot Shell," useful phone numbers and country codes, a map of the French rail system, survival phrases, and the ever-useful lyrics of the French national anthem, "La Marseillaise." Rumor has it that the words are soon to change, so "sing it now ... before it's too late." --Heidi Robinson

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Title: Rick Steves' France, Belgium & the ...
Publisher: John Muir Pubns
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Very Good

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