Walking and Eating in Provence
by James Lasdun and Pia Davis
Vincent Van Gogh was enamored by the austere and rugged beauty of Provence, located in the southeast of France. With its craggy hills dotted with vineyards, rustic sheepcotes and shepherds' shelters hewn of stone, it's easy to see why he was so captivated by this region, and readers will, too, after going through James Lasdun and Pia Davis' Walking and Eating in Provence. Published by Moon Handbooks, Lasdun and Davis have selected 38 walks around Provence, ranging from half-day strolls to multi-day itineraries to ring walks, all carefully avoiding the regular tourist trail. Each route is vividly described with detailed directions, notable sights and accompanied by an easy-to-read map. A few more pictures here and there, however, would have made this guide more aesthetically appealing.
"What about the 'eating' part of this guide?" readers may wonder. Lasdun and Davis give honest and helpful accounts on where to eat and stay while on these walks, following the description of the walks themselves. Provence is well-known for its wines as well as its rich and flavorful cuisine, and the authors take care to point out which inns and chambres d’hôte serve the best bouillabaisse or ratatouille, not to mention other Provençal specialties. Informative and full of useful tidbits, Walking and Eating in Provence does a thorough job of guiding readers through the rocky trails of what is considered to be the main component of France's Mediterranean identity. Should you head across the border to Italy, the authors have also collaborated on Walking and Eating in Tuscany and Umbria, whereas Moon Handbooks provides new guidebooks on Prague and the San Juan Islands, among others.
Reviewed by Abhinay Jhaveri