cover image Villages of France

Villages of France

Rizzoli, Joanna Sullam. Rizzoli International Publications, $27.5 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-0927-1

An unobtrusive, informative text accompanies photographs of small, definitively quaint French villages. Waite (Long Walks in France, etc.) and travel writer Sullam offer ``an unashamedly personal selection,'' of old and unspoiled enclaves encompassing seemingly all of rural France, from Alsace to Brittany, Burgundy, Dordogne, the Pyrenees and Provence. We are shown mouth-watering shots of 13th century bastides, bird's-eye views of small towns like La Grave, set in a lush valley of the Southern Alps, street scenes of medieval hilltop villages and panoramic vistas of the lavender fields of Vaucluse. The text offers a short description of each area, historical events that took place there, architectural tidbits (the Roman tiles so typical of Provence were moulded on the thigh of the potter). We learn that Pablo Casals settled in Mosset in the Pyrenees after the Spanish Civil War, that cepes, ``the most delectable of fungi,'' are sold in the marketlace of Monpazier in late summer and autumn. Waite's diligent omission of advertisement billboards, telephone wires, litter and people from his pictures emphasizes the villages' undiluted appeal. Noticeably missing is a map of the country, without which it is difficult to place the villages geographically. (June)