The book: From food and wine to art and fashion, the 100 vignettes in this guidebook seem to cover all that typifies France. Like any good Baedeker, the book explains not only where to go but why to go there. Essays describe tourist meccas — the châteaux of the Loire Valley, for example — as well as easily overlooked but fascinating sites such as Christian Dior’s childhood home on the coast of Normandy and the memorial museum to 44 Jewish children seized by the Nazis in Izieu. Woven throughout is practical advice for women travelers: When walking La Croisette, Cannes’ fabled avenue frequented by film stars, the author says, “leave the sweats and Dos Equis T-shirt at the bottom of your canvas tote.” Since its publication in November, 100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go has spent three months onThe New York Times Best Sellers list in the travel category.
The author: Marcia DeSanctis ’82 is an award-winning travel writer who spent several years living and working in Paris. Her essays and articles have appeared in Vogue, Town & Country, and The New York Times, among many other publications. Before becoming a writer, she spent 18 years as a television news producer.
Opening lines: “American expats in France, and those of us who visit frequently, can sometimes be reluctant to divulge their — okay, our — secret haunts. Next thing you know, it’s busloads of tourists in baggy shorts and ungainly white sneakers, and soon recherché is an emphatic démodé. There is a touch of stinginess in that logic, of course, but mercifully, Parisians themselves do not tend to be quite so turfy about the places they hold dear in their very own city. It was this kind of openness that led me to the Parc de Bagatelle, a place so abundant and airy it should be no secret at all.”