Cadogan’s stunning guide to Gascony and the Pyrenees takes you deep into a fascinating region that is home to both Gascons and Basques. This is a place for lazy touring and with Cadogan as your guide, you’ll be able to meander through the beautiful scenery and find the perfect village restaurant where madame will cook you up a hearty plate of game or duck that Parisians would die for. Explore Europe’s biggest forest, a vast flat carpet of pines planted in the time of Napoleon III, in the Landes or relax in the department of the Gers, which fits all the archetypal images of southwest France with its rich lands, sweet rivers, geese and foie gras and vineyards destined to fine armagnac. If you want some activity to work off all that fine cuisine de terroir, Cadogan will lead you to the best mountain walks, climbs and ski centers or if you’d rather just indulge, to the best vineyards and wine-tasting. There are even local recipes included so you can recreate the Gascon flavor long after you’ve left. Now fully redesigned, this new edition contains the most up-to-the-minute practical information and listings, along with color photographs and maps.
Excerpt: On stilts
Stilts are one of the easiest ways of getting high, and like many things they’ve been around a lot longer than you think; back to the 7th century bc, Chinese acrobats donned stilts to amuse the first Song emperor. They remained in the entertainment sphere until the 16th century, when they found a practical use among shepherds in the marshy moors of the Landes in western France. The average pair of tschanquayres, as they were known, measured three feet high and allowed the shepherds not only to stay high and dry, but to keep track of their sheep, while indulging in their favourite pastime – knitting.
Although tschanquayres became obsolete when Napoleon III drained the Landes in the 1860s and planted them with pines, they soon found a new role in racing and world record breaking. ...click here to read the rest
I like Cadogan guides!, /5
I have recently purchased a couple of Cadogan guides, including this one (the other is the older "France" guide) and I like both of them quite a lot. I prefer guides that devote a lot of space to history and description and not too much to hotels/restaurants etc and these guides are just like that. I used this one specifically for Toulouse (about 20 pages of this guide) and I liked it a lot. Well-written with a lot of historic information (taking into account the size of the book), nice maps, very nice formatting, useful tips on "don't miss" locations. The one restaurant I tried based on the guide's advice (Le Bon Vivre, in Place Wilson) was excellent. Maybe the only thing that I could have done without is the few jokes found here and there in places where they didn't seem very appropriate, especially given the space constraints, but this is no big deal. Overall, highly recommended and I think I will buy more from this publisher.
Rich with detail, /5
This book covers seven regions: The Landes, The Pays Basque, Béarn, The High Pyrenees, Toulouse, and Ariège, Andorra, and the Eastern Pyrenees.
A pro and con of the book is the emphasis on historical detail (do you know Henri IV's favorite wine or the ingredients for a cassoulet?).
However, of six books purchased for a recent trip, this book had the most 'nuggets' and useful recommendations.
For example, in the section on Pau, a sidebar discusses Jurancon wine growers in the nearby town of Monein. Of these, one is indeed very traditional, and the other had the cited vintner (Henri Ramonteu) in the tasting room.
This knowledge may be normal to folks in South West France, but is not discussed in other guidebooks such as the Rough Guide.
Toulouse guide, /5
I am living in The Toulouse area for 2 years and found this book to be very informative about the surrounding areas with good ideas for places to visit. There is a lot of historical information for the regions if this interests you. The information about eating out i found particularly useful.
Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls can be reached at: email@example.com