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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.