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Recommended Guide Books for My Trip

Hi all, I will be going alone to Nice for language course for 12 weeks early March to end of May. So I will most likely visit French Riviera or Southern France region during that period. And I will also be visiting Amsterdam, Rome, Paris, and other countries capital near to Nice (will be decided when already in Nice) before/after the course or even during that period only for 2-4 days each. I'm wondering which guide books do I have to own and bring for my trip? The choices are between: continent (Europe, Western Europe, etc) vs. regional (Provence & Cote D'azur, Mediterranean, French Riviera, etc) vs. country (France, Italy, etc) vs. city (Paris, Rome, etc). I will probably be able to bring 2 guide books. This is my first time traveling to Europe. Any suggestion or advise is most welcomed. Thanks in advance!

Posted by
32265 posts

Stewart, As this is your first time travelling to Europe, I would highly recommend pre-reading the Guidebook Europe Through The Back Door before you leave on the trip. That will provide you with a lot of good information on things like using the trains, money issues, theft prevention (wear a Money Belt, especially in Paris and Rome), languages (although you'll be studying French, you may need some tips for Rome and other parts of Italy), etc. Given the countries you'll be visiting and the fact that you have a limit of two books, you could consider packing along Rick's France 2011 and Italy 2011 Guidebooks, which will provide a good overall view of those countries. These won't provide the same level of detail that you'd get with the city or region-specific books, however they'll probably be adequate for the sightseeing you'll be doing. I'm assuming you'll be able to obtain those books prior to departure, either at local shops (if available) or via the Travel Store on this website. Bon Voyage!

Posted by
23465 posts

The closer the guidebook is tied to where we are going is better for us. Generally more and greater detailed info. For example -- if I was only going to be in Italy it would be a Italian book and not western Europe. Or if I was only going to be in Rome it would be Rome and not Italy. And if we cannot find a specific location guidebook, we will copy the important pages of a broader guidebook and leave the big book home. Guidebooks can be useless weight if not using them completely.

Posted by
5678 posts

Are you bringing any digital devices with you other than the cameras? If you are look into downloading some guidebooks. In Amsterdam there is a great English bookstore where you can probably pick up a good local guidebook. Pam

Posted by
56 posts

Hi all, thanks a lot for all the replies. Actually, I was thinking to bring my Let's Go Europe 2008 (I wouldn't mind to bought the latest one for Europe from any of the publishers). Why Europe book? Because as I said I'm going to visit Amsterdam (although only for transit of 7 hours), Rome (4 days), Paris (4-5 days) and probably other big cities in nearby countries for the weekend, like Geneva, Brussel, or probably Prague. So, taking the Europe book seems to be useful as they cover more major cities which I will only visit for a short time, therefore they should cover the major attractions in those big cities. So that's 1 book. The second book that I was thinking to get was Provence & Cote D'Azur region, because I will spend most of my time there, so they will be useful for the weekday afternoon short trips or the weekend trips. I had Rough Guide First Time Europe and already read it to know what to plan, to prepare, to bring, etc. So I'm not sure whether I need to get the Rick Steve's Europe Through The Back Door, because I think (and please correct me if I'm wrong here) that they might be similar. Any advice is really appreciated. Thanks!

Posted by
1003 posts

If you're sticking to bigger cities and major sights, i might recommend bringing along Rick's Best of Europe book (the most updated one). He basically pulls the chapters on all of these places and sticks them all in one book. I used it on my first big trip to Europe and it was great. If you think you might spend more extended time in a particular region, get that book. I agree with others that the more specific the book, the better. For example, Rick has walking tours in his Rome book that are not in the Italy book, but they ARE in the Best of Europe book (at least they were a couple years ago). Regarding Europe Through the Back Door, it's more of a travel tips/philosophy/planning type of book rather than a guidebook, so yes it is different and I do recommend it if it's your first trip. You would probably not bring it with you but it's a great read beforehand.

Posted by
56 posts

I went to a bookstore yesterday and got a change to check out the Rick Steve's books. For Europe Through the Back Door book, the planning and preparation tips are more or less the same as what I have read on Rough Guide First Time Europe. So, I don't think I will buy it. For Best of Europe 2011, I found it quite good. It's just that it only covers few of the city for each country. For example, no Geneva and Brussel but instead Interlaken and Bruges. And I don't see any direction of how to get to Bruges, for example. I did, however, like the Rick Steve's Provence & Cote D'azur 2011, compared to the same book from Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, Frommer, and Fodor that I also looked at yesterday. It has good transportation information of how to get to the small town near Nice. I don't have any experience in using Rick Steve, Frommer, and Fodor books. My concern however, as I want to travel cheap (probably not as extreme as backpacker, but still on a budget), are Rick Steve's guidebook intended for budget traveler like Lonely Planet/Rough Guides/Let's Go?