Where’s Grenoble? My dilemma with Rick Steves Guidebooks

There is a lot I value in Rick Steves Guidebooks: museum walk-thoughs, comprehensive tips such as museum passes and how to avoid lines, focus on locally-owned hotels and B&Bs, and more. The hand drawn-style maps really do not work for me, but since the dreadful redesign of Lonely Planet guidebooks, I have been testing other series.

Where so many guides fall down for me is their lack of comprehensiveness. I want a complete picture of a destination so that I can make my own choices and piece together itineraries. Even when, say, a city may not be a big tourist draw, it may be a transit hub that I could be stuck in for a few hours and would at least like ideas, a map, and transit info.

I have a business trip this weekend to Grenoble, France, where many tech firms are located, and a gateway to the Alps. Lonely Planet France (2009 edition) is 1,012 pages with 11 pages on Grenoble and surroundings. Rick Steves’ France 2012 is 1,148 pages and the only mention of Grenoble is on page 841:

The route between the Riviera and the Alps is beautiful (from south to north, follow signs: Digne, Sisteron, and Grenoble).

The Dauphiné does not exist in Rick Steves’ France.

And so I cannot use a Rick Steves’ guide as primary for my trips.

Grenoble, France

Grenoble, France photo by archangel 12

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  1. I always wonder how guidebook editors decide what areas to include. For years Rick Steves was, for example, the only guidebook to have any significant information about the Cinque Terre in Italy. Other books have finally started including a few pages on the region, but still provide nowhere near the information he does. I always thumb through as many guidebooks as I can when planning a trip and then decide which book or books fit my needs best for that trip.

  2. Rick Steves has always maintained that he doesn’t offer a comprehensive guide to a country. He only covers what he considers to be the big hitters. So while I use his books I also consult other guidebooks to fill in the gaps.

  3. Rick’s books are meant to highlight those areas that he feels are “must see” places. He makes no bones about that. His series are not a comprehensive guide to all regions. You usually have to use several guides to fill in the gaps. Otherwise these books would be huge! Try the Michelin guides for France.

  4. I think most guides are being dumbed down, because people who are serious use the internet anyway. The guides are for superficial travelers who have done little research and only hit the “must see” items.

  5. We’re used the Rick Steves book for multiple countries. He tell you as it is. We’re discovered some great out of the way places in his guidebooks.

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