Authors: Alison Culliford and Nan McElroy
Publishers: Beagle Bay, Inc., Reno, NV
ISBN: 978-1-885436-40-5

Click Here To Purchase France: Instructions for Use* The Practical, On-site Assistant for the Enthusiastic (Even Experienced) Traveler (Instructions for Use Travel Series)

I try to keep my reviews impersonal, but this book is so connected to my own experience I have to include my personal thoughts on France: Instructions for Use. Have you ever traveled to a foreign country? If not, you are missing one of the most exciting and annoying experiences in your life. Walking on a foreign soil, breathing in the air and history, and living with the natives is thrilling in a way domestic travel isn’t. It is a voyage of discovery, but also a journey of set-backs and aggravation. You don’t speak the language, the food is sometimes too exotic, and everything is different. While that is good, it can also be almost frightening.

The same as when operating a new appliance, it always helps to have instructions and this book is written by two women who have experienced Europe as new travelers and experienced natives. Alison Culliford has loved France since she was a child and had traveled there many times before settling in Paris in 2001. As a resident, she is a wealth of information not only on the basics travelers need but on the people themselves who can be tricky at best. French culture is very complex and often the French have little patience for the ignorant or uneducated. Nan McElroy is a frequent traveler in Europe and used her experience on writing Italy: Instructions for Use to help with this book.

The book starts with the general and moves on to a breakdown of all the things a traveler will need to know to survive and thrive. As a American often in France, I enjoyed the brief section on pronunciation. I’ve read many of them and they are usually dull enough to make them unbearable. Ms. Culliford brings into it her own experience and funny stories that cuts through the drudgery.

 We quickly move into the meat of the book and the information is vital. As a traveler, we often don’t realize the different situations we will encounter until we are ankle deep in trouble. This book is one of the most complete guides I have found and I have read many.

While most books center on culture, this book takes the time to discuss many often forgotten basics. For example, there is a very complete section on driving and French roads. Many tourists venture out on their own and this book covers the facts of renting a car, getting gas, and reading the French maps.

 All the other issues needed are in there, but it includes a section on basic manners while among the French. Americans don’t understand that they are being rude, but they are. For example, Americans don’t realize the French custom of greeting people when they enter a store or shop and therefore can seem standoffish. We neglect to notice that the French speak quietly in public and own over-friendly manners offend rather than endear.

 French: Instruction for Use is the perfect book to read before leaving, to study on the plane, and to keep into your backpack as you travel through France. Even though I live part time in France, I learned a lot and plan to keep this perfectly sized book handy.

Click Here To Purchase France: Instructions for Use* The Practical, On-site Assistant for the Enthusiastic (Even Experienced) Traveler (Instructions for Use Travel Series)