The South of France is a legendary holiday region: the classic luxury destination where everyone longs to be. In this fully updated and revised edition, Cadogan weaves through the landscapes that inspired Van Gogh, Cézanne, Matisse and Renoir, covering a swathe of the country from the Alps to the Pyrenees. Authors Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls, who have lived in France for many years, get to the heart of the region. They reveal the peaceful lavender fields and rolling hills of Provence, and explore its contrasting cities: the salty, bustling port of Marseilles and the elegant university town of Aix-en-Provence. The guide also covers the glamorous French Riviera, where the Cannes film festival is held each year and dukes and millionaires gamble in the casinos of Monaco. Now fully redesigned, this new edition contains the most up-to-the-minute practical information and listings, along with color photographs and maps. The guide also offers an unsurpassed commentary on the world-renowned wine regions of the Rhône, Orange, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Excerpt: Hocus Pocus Popes
Filling the lifeless shell of the papal palace in Avignon with the lost trappings of the medieval popes is not an easy task for the imagination. And the more you learn, the hard it gets, for besides all the harlots, speculators, gluttons and cheats that Petrarch railed against, there seems to have been a shocking amount of voodoo. Accusations of sorcery had already sullied the name of one Occitan pope, Sylvester II (Gerbert of the Auvergne), who reigned from 999-1003 after studying in the Islamic schools in Toledo, where acquired a prophetic bronze head that advised him in sticky moments. Even today, his tombstone in St John Lateran is said to sweat and rattle before the death of each pope.
In 1309, the French pope Clement V moved the Papacy from Rome to Avignon, then died from eating a plate of ground emeralds (prescribed by his doctor for a stomach ache). He was succeeded by John XXII, a native of Cahors, who owed his election to a magic knife that enchanted the conclave of cardinals. ...click here to read the rest
Best guide to southern France, /5
I've owned a number of guide books for southern France and examined many more and this is the one I would pick if I could only take one. Rick Steves Provence is good but does not completely cover Provence. After finding too much out of date information in a "new" Lonely Planet I don't trust what I read there. Michelin Green Guide contains valuable information but the organization is troublesome. When I travel to other places I'll look at the guides by Facaros and Pauls first.
Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls can be reached at: email@example.com