Each chapter is broken down into seven sections: History & Landscape, People & Lifestyle, Food, Shopping, Wine, Navigating the Area, Culture & Art.
Having visited these regions myself, I like her personal touch, information and anecdotes, which set this travelogue apart from a traditional guidebook. One of my favorite sections is history and landscape. JP Adams intertwines the facts with historical stories. The stories tend to include landscape depictions to visualize and compare what happened then with what exists now.
The travelogue covers five areas: The French Rivera, Provence, Languedoc, Dordogne and Bordeaux. In each area’s Food section, she writes paragraphs once again blending history with a non-technical recipe and adds translations of the French word. When you go shopping you can write everything down and show it even if you cannot say it. All this becomes your shopping list wrapped up in a salad leaf.
Restaurants? Cannot read the menu? Take a photocopy of page 232 while in Bordeaux as a cheat sheet for names and ingredients or the wine section for terminology to read a wine bottle label. Cooking classes? Bordeaux and more recipes and terminology. Her favorite spot to spend a month? I will let you find out.
Referring to a village with 19th century infrastructure in a WiFi world, you detect, early on, JP Adams’s humor that often slides between the lines in the book. Through her ten years collecting information, you notice a few changes in the book of people, travel habits and technology. Otherwise, with little reference to contemporary dates, the vistas and experiences seem timeless.
If you have a habit of skimming books, it will be difficult with this guide “Intoxicating Southern France”. It is impossible to find a section to skim or a boring line. Each paragraph is filled with information, history and intoxicating Southern France.