I don’t usually rave about books. I rave about French food and experiences, but not books. However, this past Christmas, one of my presents was the book, “100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go“.written by Marcia DeSanctis. Marcia is an award-winning American travel writer who lived and worked in France. (So jealous!) While this book is written with “Women” in mind, I really believe the book is for both men and women because it is that interesting.
I had heard about the book and really wanted it because it sounded so interesting: information about 100 places throughout France. And not just any places, but places that women would appreciate. I’ll be honest, if you are not already in love with France like I am, you will be after reading this book.
This book became my bible when I recently travelled to France. It is not a tour book like 2015 Frommer’s France or Fodor’s France. It is much more complex and frankly, interesting. Yes, some tourist information (ie. opening hours) is given, but Marcia provides more of an insight into each place. You can go to Frommer’s for tourist details and facts (ie. location, hours, prices). Check out Marcia’s book for a feeling about the places. Knowing that Gabrielle d’Estrees, for example, was the mistress and “great love’ of Henry IV is much more interesting!
Here’s my take on the book: each chapter highlights a particular area in France; however, Marcia provides the history behind each or explains how she explored the city or visited a site. While I was reading the book, I mentally checked off the ones that I had done. There were a lot, particularly in Paris. Ok. I checked off 52. You see! This is why I keep going back to France! I still have more to see! Here are some I checked off before my trip:
- Day of Glory-Bastille Day, Paris (Of course, being born ON Bastille Day, July 14, I had to be in Paris for the parade!)
- You Can Hear Heaven—church music and concerts, including Sainte-Chapelle, Paris
- Bring A Big Shopping Bag-La Grande Epicerie at Le Bon Marche, Paris
- The Artist’s Artist-Musee Rodin and Camille Claudel, Paris (the garden is especially lovely)
- More Than Sunday Strolls-Luxembourg Gardens and Tuileries Gardens, Paris
- The Red City of Toulouse-Lautrec-Albi, Midi-Pyrenees
- The Food Center of the Universe-Les Halles de Lyon-Pau Bocuse, Lyon
- Trailblazer on the Route du Champagne-Maison Veuve Clicquot, Reims
- The Strange and Wonderful -Volcanoes and Cheese, the Auvergne
So for my recent trip to France, I explored the sites written about by Marcia and tried out some of the patisseries and places mentioned in her book. I also returned to some of my favourites that she wrote about and saw those sites with new eyes:
- Peace In The City: The Canal Saint-Martin, Paris-loved walking along the canal and having a picnic, then stopping at Du Pain et des Idees for the BEST chaussons aux pommes I’ve ever had
- La Vie en Lavande-The Lavender Route, Provence-Marcia wrote that she walked an easy 2.5 miles down from the medieval village of Gordes to the Abbaye de Senanque. She was fortunate to have visited when the lavender was in full bloom. I was a bit early. The view from the road above the Abbey is beautiful and with the lavendar….spectacular.
- A Country of Green-Some of France’s Most Spectacular Gardens-Marcia talks about Chateau de Villandry and although it was my 5th time to the Loire Valley, I am still in awe of the low box hedges that create the Gardens of Love and one of the most beautiful gardens in the world.
- The France Of Our Desires-The Luberon, Provence-Although I had visited Provence many times before, I loved reading about Marcia’s favourites, and when she said, “In Provence, I’d rather sit for hours at a table in the sun than do much of anything else, close my eyes and feel the breeze push up from the valley”, I knew exactly what she was talking about when I had a drink at Cafe de France in Lacoste. The terrace overlooks the Luberon and across the valley was Menerbes.
- La Jeune Rue, Paris-My friend Jan had told me about this area in the north part of the Marais and when I read about it I had to see it for myself. It is an area in Paris that is being developed to showcase/highlight, French design, produce from French suppliers and organic gastronomy. When I was there construction crews were busy at a number of storefronts.
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Marcia’s book, “100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go” is probably the BEST book I have ever read. This lady KNOWS France but it is more than just FACTS about France. You get the feeling about France. It is the feeling I get whenever I go and whenever I THINK about France. This is how I love France, too. She gets it.
Check out “50 Reasons To Love Paris” for more ideas about what to do and see in Paris.