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The great advantage the Cadogan guides to France have over the many competitors in the area is that they have a personality. Largely written by the same people (Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls), their sense of humour and wonder shines through in the lively writing and choice of some less usual places to highlight.
The guides are aimed at a relatively affluent, mature audience (unlike the Lonely Planet/Rough Guides), but will also appeal to anyone who likes to take a cultural holiday and is most interested in locating themselves near places of interest. They pretty much assume you've got a car, and want to get out and about, and sacrifice completeness to focus on places of specific local interest. Unlike the Michelin guides, whose arrangement by type of attraction always annoys me, they explore districts of France, grouping towns and villages together, and allowing you to get a good picture of what you could visit if you chose to stay in X. Especially pleasing is the space they give to local crafts and history, and the more quirky places they find to recommend.
Information on hotels and restaurants is basic and, in some of the guides that are a few years old, unreliable. The one downside of the series is that some of the volumes are getting a little dusty and in need of an update to function as complete guides. However if you're happy finding hotels on your own and willing to chance opening hours having changed a bit, the older guides are still fascinating, witty and stimulating reads. I often browse sections to remind myself of the pleasure I had visiting various areas - the writing is definitely good enough, and gives you a real sense of the difference between different parts of the country.
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