Travel guide review – France: Charming Small Hotel Guides by Fiona Duncan


Although I’ve lived on the French Riviera on and off since 1989 and therefore think it’s safe to say that I know the area quite well, I regularly stock up my bookshelf as there are always new places and nice hotels and restaurants to explore and to discover despite the area being rather small from a geographical perspective.

I recently got the opportunity to receive a copy of the France edition of the Charming Small Hotel Guides by Fiona Duncan, which made for a very interesting read…

The author is a leading British travel writer who publishes hotel reviews amongst others in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper with the Hotel Guru column and who launched the series of Charming Small Hotel Guides in 1986.

The main reason for which I enjoyed the guide was the fact that they provide a totally unbiased but also totally selective view with no advertising and therefore share the same editorial philosophy as the French Riviera Blog, writing about places that the writers and by extension readers will enjoy.

Although the guide covers the whole of France, there is an extensive selection covering the South of France including destinations that I cover on the French Riviera Blog. I particularly liked the emphasis on smaller hotels with personalized service, the detailed “methodology” explanations at the beginning highlight the fact that the only hotels selected are those with under 20 rooms and with a family touch, meaning that the rooms do not feel like a hotel but have more of an individual atmosphere.

The selection itself is pretty eclectic, both in terms of style and price range: the French Riviera hotels mentioned start with the 80€ Auberge de la Madone in the picturesque village of Peillon to the crazily priced Colombe d’Or Hotel in St Paul de Vence with its lovely Michelin starred restaurant (see my article on this beautiful Provençal artist village for more information). Other places listed are mainly pretty traditional such as Chateau de Cagnard in the lovely old village of Cagnes and the Auberge de Tourrettes in Tourrettes sur Loup in the hinterlands close to Grasse but also include exclusive destinations like the lovely Chateau Eza in Eze Village or the exclusive Hotel de la Panche in St Tropez.

The articles themselves are well-written and fun to read, often with small anecdotes about the owners and plenty of practical information.

I would therefore be happy to recommend this guidebook to any discerning travellers looking to visit the traditional side of France and you can find more information on this link. Charming Hotel Guides are published by Duncan Petersen and also exist for other areas of Europe, notably Italy (another of my favourites).

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