Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go

100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go

5.0 2
by Marcia DeSanctis

See All Formats & Editions

Told in a series of stylish, original essays, "New York Times" travel bestseller "100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go" is for the serious Francophile, the woman dreaming of a trip to Paris, and those who love crisp stories well told. Like all great travel writing, this volume goes beyond the guidebook and offers insight not only about


Told in a series of stylish, original essays, "New York Times" travel bestseller "100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go" is for the serious Francophile, the woman dreaming of a trip to Paris, and those who love crisp stories well told. Like all great travel writing, this volume goes beyond the guidebook and offers insight not only about where to go but why to go there. Combining advice, memoir and meditations on the glories of traveling through France, this book is the must-have in your carry-on.

Award-winning writer Marcia DeSanctis draws on years of travels and living in France to lead you through vineyards, architectural treasures, fabled gardens and contemplative hikes from Biarritz to Deauville, Antibes to the French Alps. These 100 entries capture art, history, food, fresh air and style and along the way, she tells the stories of fascinating women who changed the country s destiny. Ride a white horse in the Camargue, find Paris s hidden museums, try thalassotherapy in St. Malo, and buy raspberries at Nice s Cour Saleya market. From sexy to literary, spiritual to simply gorgeous, "100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go" is an indispensable companion for the smart and curious traveler to France.


Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
New York Times Travel bestseller

First Prize winner in the Paris Book Festival

Foreword Reviews INDIEFAB Book of the Year silver winner in Travel

“In this elegant book, Marcia DeSanctis becomes your smartest, most glamorous, generous and insightful friend—your sage, and your guide. 100 Places in France is a treasure for any woman who wishes to know the country intimately, from its most delectable and stylish surfaces (linge- rie! parfum!) to its nuanced and profound depths. Whether traveling by jet, or simply by imagination, you will savor this ride, perhaps along with a glass of fine champagne or the perfect demitasse. I loved it.”
—Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion and Still Writing

“I’m not sure which I would rather do: pack this book and visit all the sublime places Marcia DeSanctis portrays, or curl up in my living room and devour the shimmering language in her 100 beautiful sto- ries. Either way, 100 Places in France is travel writing at its finest: infor- mative, deep and transporting.”
—Ann Leary, author of The Good House

“A 100-chapter love letter about France and a manual on how other women can best find that love...excellent inspiration for a future trip.”
—Spud Hilton, San Francisco Chronicle

“Even if you don’t have plans to go to France, Marcia DeSanctis will take you there with her whimsical, encyclopedic guide to Gallic life... a necessary indulgence for even the most jaded Francophile.”
—Kate Betts, author of My Paris Dream

“Transcends the genre.”
France Magazine

“Blows up the typical stodgy guidebook format...this nifty book will cause an outbreak of Franco-lust.”
MORE Magazine

“Some day when I do drink absinthe in a basement bar in Antibes or hike along the beaches of Étretat, my experience will be all the richer for having DeSanctis as a guide.”
—Globe-trotting, Boston Globe

“A splendid new book on France has hit the shelves. DeSanctis has curated 100 distinct experiences that you’ll want to revisit again and again. For those smitten with travel to France, this volume is a real gift.”
France Today

Product Details

Travelers' Tales Guides, Incorporated
Publication date:
100 Places Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 41
Stories the River Tells
The Dordogne and Josephine Baker’s Chateau

When you drive through the Dordogne, the area of Aquitaine between the Loire valley and the Pyrenées, the names will fall from your tongue like drops of truffle honey sold in the local markets alongside Cabécou goat cheese and magret de canard. Sarlat, Castelnaud, Souillac, Issigeac—with each passing commune, the seduction grows more poetic and somehow, more persuasive. People succumb to the Dordogne’s allure with a sense of destiny, lasting love from coup de foudre, and I know plenty of people for whom France is not Paris or Provence but rather this untrammeled southwestern slice of valleys, rivers, farms and vineyards. Such understatedness may be why passion for this area is unusually potent and the attraction so enduring.

Author Kimberley Lovato remembers when she fell, a moment that could only be called a conversion. “When I first saw Chateau de Beynac, I drove off the road,” she says about the medieval fortress that roosts dramatically on a cliff-face high above the Dordogne River. “I called my husband and said, “You wouldn’t believe what I’m looking at.” Inspired, she began to delve into the stories behind the cuisine of the region the French still call Périgord—the growers of raspberries, the purveyors of fois gras, the creator of the sublime lavender crème caramel. The result is Walnut Wine & Truffle Groves, Culinary Adventures in the Dordogne, her cookbook, memoir, and tribute to the food, markets and people of the area. “Everything you love about France is here, but better,” she says. “Lifestyle. Physical beauty. Uncrowded markets and restaurants, where dinner is usually cooked by the owner. And life exists around the table.”

In the Dordogne, cuisine is king but so is the history of royals who resided there and reminders of the many battles fought. The bastides of Monpazier and Beaumont du Périgord, fortress towns from the Middle Ages built around an arcade-lined central square, remain largely intact. The Dordogne also lays claim to some 1001 chateaux, many of which came under attack during the Hundred Years War between France and England, and they rise from the vineyards and undulating green meadows in various degrees of splendor. They are at their most sublime when seen from the river itself, either in a hired gabare or better yet in your own rented canoe or kayak. If you depart from La Roque Gageac, where the village’s honey-colored houses descend to the riverbank, you will paddle past several of the castles perched high upon the craggy cliffs. At journey’s end your car awaits you, and you may explore the medieval villages, including Beynac and Castelnaud and the castles that loom above them, which clutch centuries worth of stories. Among the most fascinating tales is also among the most recent, and it is told at Chateau de Milandes, the former home of one the twentieth century’s most intriguing women and a genuine French war hero, Josephine Baker.

As an eight-year-old foraging for food in the slums of St. Louis, Baker worked as a maid until making her way to New York, where she danced at the Plantation Club in Harlem. In 1925, at age 19, her beauty caught the eye of an impresario looking for performers to play La Revue Nègre at the Théâtre des Champs Élysées in Paris. Topless, her hair slicked into a helmet, clad in oversized gold earrings and a pink flamingo feather between her limbs, Baker was a succès fou. Janet Flanner, the New Yorker’s legendary Paris correspondent known as Genet, wrote a belated tribute to Baker’s opening night at La Revue Nègre, which, she writes, “remains to me now like a still-fresh vision, sensual, exciting and isolated in my memory today, almost fifty years later.” Within a half hour of the curtain fall, she had catapulted onto the stratosphere. “Two specific elements had been established that were unforgettable—her magnificent dark body, a new model that to the French proved for the first time that black was beautiful, and the acute response of the white masculine public in the capital of all of hedonism of all Europe—Paris.” Soon, the woman known as the Bronze Venus or the Black Pearl, with an entourage that included a pet cheetah named Chiquita, had her own show at the Folies Bergères and was the richest entertainer on the continent, and a movie star too.

In 1937, Baker saw and fell in love with the Chateau de Milandes, a Renaissance castle complete with gargoyles and massive stone staircases. During the war, she hid Jewish refugees there while she spied for De Gaulle’s Free French Forces, for which she was awarded the Rosette of the Résistance in 1946 and in 1961, the Légion d’Honneur and Croix de Guerre. In 1963, Baker was the sole woman to speak at the March on Washington with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By then she had bought the chateau and adopted 12 children from 8 countries to raise there. Her great wealth allowed her to transform what she called her “Sleeping Beauty Castle,” into a theme park dedicated to her, complete with an African village, theater, dance hall called the Sans Souci, and a J-shaped swimming pool. Her extravagance came at a high cost, and she was forced to sell Milandes for a fraction of its value and abandon it in 1968.

It was rescued by a local family and today, the museum there honors her memory and contribution with film clips, photographs and yes, the famous banana skirt from when she was the toast of all Paris. The pièce de resistance is a regal bathroom befitting the glamorous former chatelaine decorated in the gilded black palate of her signature scent, Lanvin’s Arpège. It’s a long way from Paris and even farther from Saint Louis, but in the Dordogne, Josephine Baker takes her rightful place among the great women of France. The region, famous for its food, memorialized by its villages, but sustained by the people who loved it and still do, is the richer for it and so are we.

Meet the Author

Marcia DeSanctis is a former television news producer who has written essays and articles for numerous publications including Vogue, Marie Claire, Town & Country, More, Departures, The Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times Magazine. Her essays have been widely anthologized and she is the recipient of three Lowell Thomas Awards for excellence in travel journalism, as well as a Solas Award for best travel writing. She holds a degree from Princeton University in Slavic Languages and Literature and a Masters in Foreign Policy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. She lived and worked for several years in Paris and travels as much as possible to France. She lives in northwest Connecticut with her husband and two children.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
BellaMarina More than 1 year ago
An Inspiring, Fun, Eloquent Book from Cover-to-Cover Spain is my foreign obsession. So imagine my surprise when 100 Places in France not only grabbed my attention and kept me reading, but actually got me excited about planning a trip to the South of France to hike, visit the perfume capital of France, and spend a few days in quiet retreat at a monastery just off the coast of Cannes. No matter if I can’t find it in my schedule and budget to actually make the trip; it is a joy in itself to be moved and inspired by great travel writing. And that’s what you have in 100 Places in France from cover-to-cover.  The writing is superb throughout. Not a weak link among the 100 essays, which speaks to how much effort and care DeSanctis must have put into writing this book. I loved the varying tones of the pieces and found that added depth and balance to the work as a whole. The book also gets high marks for its rich descriptive detail and readability, two features that often don’t go hand in hand. I was also amazed at how consistently the book piqued my curiosity about the people, places, and events I was reading about, something that will definitely appeal to curious readers who love to learn (whether Francophiles or not). Of course, the book is a must-read for anyone who knows and loves France, especially those who appreciate great style in any form. These readers will love how perfectly DeSanctis captures French essence and how excited she is about sharing her passion for France. But I think it would also appeal to people who are curious about France but haven’t made it there yet. Guys included, despite the title! My verdict: Highly recommended. A smart, fun, captivating book. A keeper. A great gift book. One that fell into my hands by accident and totally won me over. Thank you, Marcia DeSanctis, for writing this unique and wonderful book!
wordsandpeace More than 1 year ago
THE companion book for your next trip to France. Rich with unique advice and achingly beautiful descriptions of France in all its diversity, 100 Places In France Every Woman Should Go is honestly THE companion book you have to purchase for your next trip to France, or to help you dream before you can go. Touristic guide books on France abound, but once you have seen one, you have basically seen them all. 100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go is absolutely unique. I have cherished each of its 100 vignettes and will rely on its great ideas and advice for my next trip to France, or in the mean time to nourish my dreams before I can afford my next plane ticket. So why is this book so good? First, each of the 100 sections are only a few pages long, introduced by a title, a subtitle detailing what it is about, and the specific location. The first 25 presentations are about Paris, the rest covers the rest of France in all its rich diversity, including some of its islands –Corsica is #100. The style is of literary essays more than cheap guide books: the very vivid descriptions combine great data, on French history for instance, with personal reflections (the author has been numerous times to France and even lived there several years). Some passages are simply achingly beautiful, as they so make want you to be there and experience the place by yourself. In #8, she has an amazing evocation of a music concert in La Sainte-Chapelle. Thanks to her experience, the author gives great advice (the most important one I think: be spontaneous!), some tips even (how to visit Versailles while avoiding the maddening crowds), short lists of recommended places based on what she loves most, from restaurants to lingerie shops, museums, 6 of her most favorite spectacular gardens, etc. DeSanctis even shares some healthy wisdom gained through experiencing this country. And if you have ever been to Aix-en-Provence, you have to recognize how spot on she is. If you have never been there, add it to your list. Even though I am French myself, I have learned quite a few things on history, culture, and food (I really knew nothing about the way of chocolate from Mexico to France, via Spain and Portugal)! And I have a list of great book recommendations quoted along! It’s about history (from rock statues dating back to 4,500 B.C. to things introduced these past 10 years), cemeteries, cathedrals, castles, saints; art, artists, architecture, painting, sculpture, cinema, authors, scientists (Marie Curie invented radiation therapy); food, wine, champagne, cider, eau-de-vie, absinthe bars (allowed again in France in 2011), chocolate, bread, cheese, cooking classes, restaurants; shopping, flea markets, lingerie (did you know a French woman introduced the bra in 1889?), perfume (she shares her experience at creating her own perfume with a professional perfumer –there are all kinds of fascinating and original workshops like this available in France); the sea, the ocean, surf, beaches, lighthouses, islands, lakes, pools, spas, aquabiking, thalassotherapy, hikes, mountains, ski resorts; and flowers, gardens, parks, and the category of the Official Most Beautiful Villages of France. Men will enjoy it just as much as women. There are no color pictures included, like all the other books I am familiar with published by the famous Travelers’ Tales, but the descriptions are so well done that thanks to them, you will be able to create the most beautiful color pictures in your mind.