The New Shell Guides have four in-depth offerings: "Channel Islands" by Joan Stevens and Nigel Jee, "Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly" by Paul Pettit, "South and Mid Wales" by Wynford Vaughan-Thomas and "Northern Scotland and the Islands" by Francis Thompson. The texts are current with an excellent blend of historical notes covering several centuries. Both color and black-and-white photos embrace the individual character of the areas described. These are worthwhile editions for the serious library (Viking Penguin: $14.95 each).
"Travels in Provence" by Marion Descamps presents a 12-day itinerary where travel and gastronomy, through an area in France, has managed to retain its special character and individuality within a maritime and inland region. Maps and text will guide readers through an area where traditions have survived and history is rich with Roman influences. The guide suggests places to visit each day, hotels and restaurants to try, with options for any budget. It includes a sampling of menus and recipes worth trying (David and Charles: $13.95).
If you plan a vacation to the Crescent City, "The Pelican Guide to New Orleans" by Thomas K. Griffin, $4.95, will direct you through and around the charm, tradition and excitement of that quaint city. As a lifelong resident, Griffin presents a chatty and entertaining overview of New Orleans' best, plus its faults and foibles.
Insight Guides offers another outstanding publication, "Germany," in color photos and detailed text. It captures the landscapes, people, charm and beauty of a country rich in history and tradition. A separate section, "Guide in Brief," provides almost everything needed for where to stay and eat, plus the various services and much more (Prentice Hall/APA: $16.95).
You may have an understanding of French, but do you have the knowledge of the local lingo and colloquialisms used on an everyday basis? With "Street French" by David Burke you'll quickly learn how to speak and understand French slang like a native. It's a self-paced guide with drills, exercises and grammatical shortcuts, including a thesaurus in English and French (John Wiley & Sons: $12.95).
"Daytrips in Britain" by Earl Steinbicker outlines 60 one-day adventures by rail, bus and car from London and Edinburgh. By using each city as a base, it demonstrates how you can have more time to explore the best of England without dragging your luggage to various hotels. The guide also includes self-guided walking tours, 65 large maps, detailed directions and lots of tourist information. It's a good buy at $12.95 (Hastings House).
How about sampling the best Scotch in Scotland, touring France's perfume industry or visiting ancient ruins where prostitute-priestesses shared affections with worshipers? "Europe for Free" by Brian Butler describes thousands of things to do in 18 European countries that won't cost you a penny. It's a useful and fun-to-plan-ahead guide. (Mustang Publishing: $9.95).
The "I Love Los Angeles Guide" ($8.95) and the "I Love Washington Guide" ($9.95), both by Marilyn J. Appleberg, are described as "the ultimate source book for natives and visitors." Thumbing the pages appears to make the statement a bit humble, considering that the guides go far beyond by providing details that may even surprise a longtime resident (Collier/Macmillan).
The following guides offer a vast collection of good accommodations: "Staying Off the Beaten Track--England," (Salem House: $12.95), by Elizabeth Gundrey; "Bed and Breakfast--West Coast U.S.A.," (Knighttime Publications: $9.95), by Diane Knight; "AA Hotels and Restaurants in Britain," ($22.95); "Historic Country House Hotels 1988--Great Britain," (Globe Pequot: $11.95), by Sigourney Wells and Jill Darby; "The Best Bed and Breakfasts in the World--England, Scotland and Wales," (Globe Pequot: $12.95), by Sigourney Welles, Jill Darby and Joanna Mortimer; "Europe's Wonderful Little Hotels and Inns," (St. Martin's: $17.95), edited by Hilary Rubinstein; "AA Bed and Breakfast in Europe," ($12.95), and "Premier Hotels of Great Britain," (Pelican: $12.95). All of the guides are above average; some include photos and location maps.